Tripping over a log might get you back on your feet

Published 8:20 pm Friday, January 12, 2018

So, after almost two weeks of the new year, how are those New Year’s resolutions coming?

I know, that has to hurt. Oh, some of you may still be hitting the ground running; but most of us, I’m guessing, are “hitting the ground” by falling on our faces, like we tripped over a log.

But I’ve come today to tell you that there is still a little bit of hope for us. In fact, you’re about to discover that even tripping over that proverbial log can be a good thing.

Read on.

Back in the 1800s, a well-known Kentucky preacher named “Raccoon” John Smith (“Raccoon” to distinguish him from all the other John Smiths) became one of the greatest preachers of that era. History holds that Smith’s greatest asset was his determination, especially his uncanny desire to find the truth of the Bible. That determination ultimately led to a separation with many of his friends and family as well as to his place in history’s “Restoration Movement,” a movement where thousands from both Europe and America vowed to go back to the Bible, and nothing else.

Once he had discovered what he believed with all his heart to be the truth in the Bible, he preached it with such vigor and determination that it cost him both his health and his finances. Of course, we only have to read about such biblical heroes as Jeremiah, Elijah, Peter, or Paul to know that the great preachers never let temporal setbacks get in their way of preaching.

But as great as all of those men were — and as great as Raccoon John Smith was — all men sometimes have their share of doubts and fear, putting their goals and dreams in peril.

Once, back when Raccoon John Smith was just a young preacher, he stood in front of a Kentucky audience preaching away. But, for some reason, right in the middle of his sermon, he went blank. Stage fright burst through the door unannounced and overtook him. He stood there in front of that audience unable to get a word out. He just froze.

He glanced over and saw the side door near the pulpit, and he decided in an instant that the door was his only way out. He took off running for it like somebody was after him with a stick, and he never slowed down once he got outside that old country Kentucky church.

But a hundred dark feet away from that empty pulpit, something amazing happened, something that we can only chalk up to providence.

He tripped over a log and went sprawling out into the dirt and mud.

That tripping jarred him, knocked some sense into him, I guess. He got up, dusted off his clothes as best he could, and headed back to the church.

He walked back through the same door he had barged out of, strolled on back into the pulpit, and the famous Raccoon John Smith courageously finished that sermon that night that he had started. He would preach courageously from then on for many years, until his death in 1868.

Today, I think we have to admit that if Smith could overcome his fears to finish his goals, surely we can do the same, too.

While you have that choice, I have to tell you that — due to a recent discovery — I’m afraid I do not exactly have a choice in the matter.

You see, the lady who raised Raccoon John Smith was his mother, Rebecca Smith. But do you want to guess her maiden name? You probably got it:

Rebecca Bowen.

Looks like I don’t have any choice but to dust off my clothes and head on back to the building.

Steven Ray Bowen is a former Granger who lives and writes in Red Oak, Texas.