Devotion in Motion: A shaver, some soap, and boundless hope

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”

Some people aren’t big talkers. My father was like that. He was the finest Christian man I’ve ever known. He spent his life serving God, serving his family and serving others.But he didn’t always have a lot to say. He was usually doing instead of talking. So when he actually did say something, it was pretty special. A lot of times what he said was really funny. More often, what he said was really important and absolutely true.

When I was a young teenager, my Dad and I had a conversation that I have often thought back on as I’ve grown older. We were talking about my future, about what vocation I would pursue, about what I would do with my life. Then kind of out of the blue he said, “You know, everybody’s life gets rough from time-to-time. But a man should never think about giving up or taking his own life. Because if a man loses everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, he can always get up the next morning and start all over from the beginning.”

I still don’t know exactly what made him broach the subject of losing everything.Maybe that’s just one of the deepest fears all people have, a universal terror that comes from being human. In the Old Testament, Job lost his health, his money, his home, and his children. And of these losses he said, “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, And what I dreaded has happened to me.” You see, Job had already had the thought of great loss beforehand, and the thought terrified him.

But Dad said if you lose everything, you can start over. Coming from anyone else, that sounds cliché and trite. But something I always knew at the core of my being is that my Dad meant what he was saying, and that he believed it with all his heart. He wasn’t a positive thinker with a cheesy grin, but rather a sober man who lived every situation with a quiet optimism. Whatever bad situation that comes your way, do what you can to improve it. Look at your obstacle and make a plan because there’s probably a way over it, under it, around it, or through it. Pray to God for help, and He’ll probably help you. If you work hard and do your best, things will probably get better.

I don’t think Dad got his philosophy from reading “The Power of Positive Thinking.” I think he got it from reading the Apostle Paul. In today’s verse (top of page), Paul said that hope does not disappoint us because God has poured His love in our hearts by His Holy Spirit. We have hope not because we are great people but because we serve a great God. In all the changes of life, He is with us, and He is actively guiding and strengthening us.

In my mind I’ve always pictured a scenario of what Dad would have done if he had lost everything. If his house burned down (with us in it) and he lost all of his money and had no job, Daddy would sit on a park bench until 7:00 a.m.Then he would walk to a hotel, and ask the lady behind the reservation desk if he could please have a little bar of soap and a disposable Bic shaver. Then he would go in a public restroom and wash up and shave his whiskers.Then he’d walk down the street in search of a cup of black coffee and a new job. He would walk outside as the sun rose on a brand new day, a new day full of new hope and new opportunities. He would start all over—because no matter what happens, with the help of the Lord, a man (or a mama) can always start over, right from the beginning.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” (Sing that to the tune of “Secret Agent Man.”) He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his third decade of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi.He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 17) and Seth (age 14) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the old folks believe in endless hope, instead of a hopeless end). You should drop him a line at