the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Adventure of the Blackheaded Silverback

If you haven't lived in the country, especially in a heavily wooded area, you probably won't relate well to this story. I live in rural Coweta County, Georgia, a part of the state that is a mixture of forests and farm land. Our house sits way back off the road and is surrounded by trees and brush.

We spend a lot of our time and concentration on the whereabouts of various types of critters. You know, small animals, spiders, lizards, rodents, snakes, etc. Several times we have run into invisible spider webs. Of course when you do that you immediately begin to feel hundreds of things crawling all over you.

Most critters love the dark. They especially like the darkest places, like under tables, in boxes and buckets, and inside an automobile. That brings me to my story.

One morning, about 6:00, I left the house for work. I got into my old Dodge Dakota to make the twenty-five mile commute into Atlanta where I work. I had several things to carry, my cell phone, a stainless steel coffee cup with one of those black "Tommee-Tippee" lids for adults, a laptop computer in a shoulder carrying case, and a roll of construction plans.

At 6:00 in the woods it was dark. I felt my way to the truck and to the door lock. I opened the door and threw my stuff inside taking care not to spill the cup of hot, freshly brewed coffee. After getting settled, putting the key in the ignition, fastening my seatbelt, and putting in my ear bud for the cell phone I turned the ignition switch to start the car. Oh, did I say I was running late? Well I turned the ignition and nothing happened. I turned it again and still nothing but a sharp click of a starter badly in need of replacement. I'm late and my nerves are beginning to fray. After several tries the truck engine starts and I ease out to the end of the driveway.

The road that goes by the house is an old country road that now connects the new subdivisions with Interstate 85. We call it the Coweta 500. Cars speed by so fast they almost blow down the 45 MPH speed limit sign. I waited at the end of the driveway until I got a sufficient break to pull out into the traffic. When my moment came I pulled out into the road as fast as I could. That's when it happened.

I felt a sharp pain on my right leg just below my knee. My first thought was SPIDER! But no, the pain was too great for a spider bite. I reached down to feel my leg. The leg was hot. My next thought was SNAKE! At that moment I felt something brush the back of my hand. With lightning reflex action I swatted whatever it was. It shot across the truck and hit the passenger side door with a thud.

While all of this action was going on inside the truck, the truck itself was choosing it's own path down the road. I looked up in time to notice the ditch directly in front of me. I quickly gained control of the vehicle and looked for a place to pull off the road. A small country church was just up ahead. I turned into the church yard, nearly hitting a light pole in the process. By now I am in a state of severe panic and out of breath from hyper-ventilating.

I jumped out of the truck as fast as I could. That's when I felt my cold wet pants against my leg. I looked in the truck but couldn't see across the transmission hump. I quickly and carefully reached in and turned on the dome light. And there it was, laying on its side in the corner of the floorboard on the passenger's side. It's warm rich elixir was spilling out on to the floor of the truck. It was my coffee cup.

Apparently as I pulled out into the traffic the cup had tipped a little and had spilled hot coffee on my leg and had been the source of both the pain and the hotness felt when I touched my leg.

We now sit around the fire gleefully and tell of the adventure of the blackheaded silverback that attacked grandpa.


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