SHE WAS IN HER 20’S, I’D SAY, the lady who cut my hair an hour ago.
“You’re new here,” I said.
“New here, but not to hair cutting. My husband and I just separated and I’m from Leavenworth.” That’s a town near Kansas City, famous for its prison.
“That’s a pretty area,” I said.
“It’s beautiful. I miss it. But it’s good being close to family and to stores to get milk and things. I have an eight-month-old son.”
“I’m sorry you have to go through the mess,” I said.
“It’s okay. We’re better friends than before.”
“It’s still a mess,” I said.
“Yes, it is. I’m looking forward to next week. My parents and I are taking my son to visit his cousin in Canada, near Niagara Falls.”
“If I went to Canada, I’d stay there,” I said.
“Well, if I did, I’d probably get arrested for kidnapping my son.”
“That’s true,” I said. I was thinking about the political climate here these days. But she was thinking about her boy.
What do you do?
She asked what I did for a living. That always makes me a little uncomfortable. Pastors must feel the same way, though as someone proud to be a layman, I’m not fond of being compared to pastors.
When I tell them I write books about the Bible and that I’m currently working on paraphrasing the Bible into the easy-reading Casual English Bible, I suddenly feel added pressure to act like a Christian.
So I’m sitting there thinking, “What would a Christian do?”
I had a card for a discount haircut for $10.99. I always tip them 20 percent, as though I’m paying the full price. But I felt compelled to give her more.
I didn’t have that much more in my wallet, but I emptied it, thanked her, and left wishing I would have had more.
But I was troubled more by something else.
I wondered if I would have given her more if she hadn’t found out that I was not only a Christian, but one who wrote books about the Bible to help others grow into stronger Christians.
I hope so. But I’m not sure.
I wonder how it would affect my behavior if, at least in my mind, I pictured myself spending a week living my life as though I’m walking around wearing a name tag.
Stephen M. Miller
I could add a bumper sticker
If I don’t drive courteously
Call 1 800 JCisSAD
And I could arrange for those calls to go to my red-headed yet saintly mother.
I wonder if it would take me longer to get where I’m going. And I wonder if when I got there, my days would be busier and my wallet would stay empty.
Is that the way it should be, regardless?
When it comes to staying busy, I’m pretty sure the apostle Paul would have something to say about it. He was pretty bossy.
“We’re commanding this, with the authority of our leader Jesus, the Messiah: stop talking and start working” (2 Thessalonians 3:12, Casual English Bible).
When it comes to generosity, I know Jesus would have something to say.
“Give and you’ll receive. What you get back will be like a big basket fully loaded, pushed down and shaken to make room for more. And it will be like a bucket so full that it runs over the top and spills into your lap. However much you decide to give, that same level of generosity or stinginess will determine what you get” (Luke 6:38, Casual English Bible).
All I wanted was a little off the top.
Richard K. Hagee
Being Ordained a UMC minister and having a Masters of Divinity from Boston University Sch. of Theology, I have felt and experienced the same feelings and questions. Many of the people in the area I live know I was in the ordained ministry.
Richard K. Hagee
I enjoy your writing. Keep it up.
Sincerely in Christ,
Stephen M. Miller
Thanks so much, Richard.