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When I was little, and I got upset with my parents, they would say, “Well, don’t run away and join the circus.”
That expression didn’t make any sense to me. For one thing, I had never been to a circus. For another, if I were to run away, it was more likely to be to the corner store a block away, because at least they sold candy. I do remember wanting to run away once and my mother, as she was laughing, said: “You want me to help you pack?” Needless to say, I didn’t go anywhere. When asked where I would go my response was “I guess I will go sit under a bridge somewhere.” I still don’t know where that answer came from. It did prove that I had not thought any of this through to any extent.
When I grew older, I asked my parents about their old expression and what it meant to them. They said it was the kind of thing that little kids said back when they were kids. When those travelling circus buses, trailers and caravans pulled into your small town, you knew something exciting was in store.
As children, they believed the life of a circus performer was one of adventure. Why, if you ran away with this circus, and snuck into one of those buses just as it was leaving, you would have a ride out-of-town, a job, and a new life on the road where your parents could never find you!
“You must have been awfully mad at your parents to want to do that,” I said. “Our parents drove us crazy,” they said. “They could be exasperating.” And that was when it hit me. These exasperating parents of mine, who often drove me crazy, had once been children themselves. And what are the odds, they too had exasperating parents?
I promised my young self that I would never become an exasperating parent. I hope that has been the case. To Shirley’s credit, as of this date, our 49-year-old son has never actually run away to join the circus.
Although there are times when, as a pastor, my family thinks I actually did run away and join the circus.
Dear God, give to each generation a balance of boldness and humility, and the wisdom of thought to know that running to Jesus, even though it may seem like a circus at times, is really all the adventure our souls really need. Help me not to run away, but to run to faith, in and through Jesus. Amen.
Grace and Peace