A Clock, a Deadline, a Caterpillar, a Train, and Living Hope

Well, here we go again. 

It’s a normal Monday morning. At least, as close to normal as anything gets in 2020.

Our clock just chimed 9:00 a.m. I know that because it chimed nine times in the key of G, ante meridiem, and not D, post meridiem.

Not really. Well, nine times, really. Different morning and evening keys? No. 

But I really am three hours away from my column deadline for a couple or three newspapers (a “hard” deadline) and a blog (a “soft” deadline). Aided by coffee (a hot shower usually has to wait on Mondays), I generally manage to hit “Send” at about 11:57 (key of G) as I’m sitting in our living room recliner in my sweats, lap laden with laptop computer.

Mondays are my day off, which means I usually write my column in the morning and maybe mess with recording podcasts or some such fun work in the afternoons.

That is, by the way, dumb. A disciplined (and, ironically, probably more productive) person would have a much better definition of “off,” and I’m not kidding. Nor was our Creator being anything but serious (and loving) when he gave as one commandment out of the Big Ten, “You kids be still for one day out of seven, and I mean it. No fussing about it. Hush, I said! It’ll be good for you.”

My younger brother Jim, also a pastor, generally takes Fridays off. He won’t take Mondays because he says they follow Sundays and he’d hate to feel that bad on his day off.  

Rocking and writing on Mondays, I’m a caterpillar on a railroad track watching the 12:00 noon express train roaring towards me. You’d think that grotesque images of green and yellow goo and a closed casket caterpillar funeral would come to mind, but this situation is, I admit, pretty normal; I almost always manage to creep off the track a full three minutes early, and the train rumbles by.

My brother Gene, a disciplined person, writes columns weeks ahead of deadlines—even years, in the case of holidays, lest he find himself playing Christmas music in the background in July 2020 to help set the mood as he writes Christmas columns for December 2020. Or maybe December 2021. (Hey, Sammy Cahn, lyrics, and Jule Styne, music, wrote “Let It Snow” in Hollywood, California, in July 1945, during a heat wave. The actual title is “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” It was a plea for mercy.)

Anyway, I find Gene’s column-writing discipline repugnant, appalling, incomprehensible, and completely elusive. If I’m writing Christmas columns, it’s a good bet a tree’s lit behind me. And it’s probably a Monday.

I’m way early on this particular Monday. It is now just 10:41 CST, and I’ve been saved by these meandering musings, of questionable value though they may be.

You see, I’d been tempted, on the heels of the recent election, to try to find words to write in a nice way that either made nobody mad or made everybody mad (the former would be my first choice but the latter is at least non-partisan) that four years of whining and conspiracy theories are a waste of time and unhelpful to our nation whether they come from the political left or the political right. I was also thinking about saying, in some way, that our King is still our King and if the Emperor Nero couldn’t steal the genuine hope of God’s people “way back when,” I’m pretty sure I know where we should be placing our genuine hope during any ruler’s “reign” now or four years from now or 400 years from now. I was tempted to mention Charles Colson’s very wise words, “Salvation does not come riding in on Air Force One.”

Yeah, I was thinking about saying all of that in politically neutral sorts of terms but trying to point to real faith in the real King and his very real kingdom, and that God’s people can and should live in genuine hope, come what may, and that a failure to do so is, in fact, a denial of the gospel.

Alas, I’m out of space and out of time. That’s probably for the best. I’m not at all sure I could have said most of that without writing poorly and being misunderstood.

Good grief! How’d it get to be 11:57 a.m.?


    You’re invited to visit my website, and I hope you’ll take a look there at my new “Focus on Faith” Podcast. At the website, just click on “Podcast.” Blessings!

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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