4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. ~ Ephesians 6:4 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
In a couple a weeks I’ll mark the 27th anniversary of the day when I came to “try out” to be the preacher at this country church. Things (and the world) have changed a lot since that day in the early summer of 1985. It’s hard to imagine, but back then nobody had a cell phone. More incredible than that, people still used payphones — you know, the ones you had to put a dime in before you could make a local call. Do they still even make payphones? When was the last time anybody used one?
I’ll never forget my arrival here. I stopped in the nearby town of Decatur, Mississippi because I needed to make a phone call to find out how to get to the meeting with the elder who was interviewing me. I asked a lady at the grocery store if there was a payphone nearby. I was astounded by her answer: “Yes, there is THE payphone in front of the phone company.”
Yes, friends, the town of Decatur had exactly one payphone. It was so unique and singular that the residents referred to it as THE payphone.
Well, things are sure different here now. Just like in the cities, the country folks talk and text and tweet and FaceBook on their cell phones nonstop. It frightens me when I see someone multitasking when they drive — even if they’re just talking on the phone. I can’t help but think their concentration isn’t totally on driving.
I don’t want to sound like an old crank or a codger, but I want to point out something I think is important. “Back in the day” we didn’t have cell phones. People still had jobs, had kids who played ball games, had social engagements, and sometimes had emergencies. If we wanted to make a phone call away from home, we had to stop and use a payphone. For the life of me, I can’t remember anything that ever warranted me pulling over the car to find and use a payphone. Most of the stuff I needed to tell somebody would “keep” until later.
It has made me stop and think. Is all the information that I’m relaying to others really important, or would some of it keep until later? Will it keep until I finish driving to my destination? Is this message I’m texting worth the time that could be better spent loving my children and raising them “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”?
So make the most of every opportunity. We all only have a short time to raise our children, and we won’t get a second chance to spend time with them. The other things will keep — but your babies won’t.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 26 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school and teaches Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 21) and Seth (age 17) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (which is so far out “in the sticks” that it has crummy cell phone coverage.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.