Let’s borrow some of the Georgia preacher’s fire

Published 8:32 pm Friday, May 4, 2018

Nobody ever did anything worthwhile without some fire down in their bones. I’m sorry, but there’s no getting around it. We don’t get anywhere dilly-dallying through life. I’ve seen plenty of young folks try — shoot, ask Mr. Walsh or a dozen other old-time LaGrange High teachers, and they’ll remind you that your “distinguished” columnist was elected president of the dilly-dally club back in the day. 

These deliberations came to mind a few days ago after visiting with a mom who was trying to light a fire under her teenage son. Her chagrin reminded me not only of my earlier LHS fame, but also of a couple of good positive examples that might help. At least, I found they helped me in the long run. Now, we’re not so naïve as to think reading a couple of stories in the paper will light a fire under you and change your life, but it sure has a better chance than hanging out with the crowd at school who thinks an “a” is just an article in the English language.

So, first, I want us to look at a fella named Jeremiah, often called the “prophet of fire.” Jeremiah was an old-fashioned, no-holds-barred Old Testament preacher who had a scorching fire down in his bones. He packed God’s word in his satchel and carried it all through the land, and he packed a good supply of zeal in it too.

But he found that preaching wasn’t easy — nothing worth accomplishing ever is, you know — and after a while he got so tired of folks ignoring his preaching he decided he would just quit. “I’m done,” he thought.

So, he went out looking for another job. But he hadn’t climbed too many dusty hills and rounded too many curves before he stopped in his tracks. He realized something:“I can’t quit,” he lamented. As much as he wanted to, he couldn’t, because — as he said — there was a nagging “fire down deep in my bones that would not let up.”

So Jeremiah preached until they laid him in the ground, fire still in his bones, I guess.

My grandfather preacher E. H. Miller went into the same business as Jeremiah, and he walked into the pulpit with the same fire in his bones, too.

But he found he was prone to something else Jeremiah had — getting discouraged when people wouldn’t listen to him, even though he thought he was a pretty good preacher. So, he decided to give it up, too.

He ambled right over to an older preacher and gave him the news: “I’m quitting,” he said, “I’ve had enough.”

The reply that was forthcoming caught him by surprise: “Preacher Miller,” the old man said. “If you can quit, by all means do!”

That flat shocked the Georgia preacher, kind of made him mad. He stomped off, thinking, “Any good preacher would have begged me to stay, so I’ll quit for sure, now.”

And he would have, too, except for one problem: He couldn’t.

No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t. There was a burning in his bones. For more than half a century, preacher Miller preached a straight gospel right here in LaGrange, and he carried it in his satchel all over the country, too. He preached when he and grandma were poor. He preached when the little old store they worshiped in had holes in the roof. Preacher Miller figured out he didn’t have a choice. There was a fire burning down in his bones, and it never let up.

If you want to accomplish anything worthwhile, you’d better go out and find some fire and transfuse it deep into your bones. It’s the only way.

Trust me, I know. I tried the other way. Remember, we were once the distinguished president of the LHS dilly-dally club.