Buddy repeated the phrase ‘comfort of the scriptures’ and then repeated it a third time with more deliberate emphasis. Using the side of a large cardboard box and a marker that was just about dried up, the old gentleman asked one of the kids to write the verse on the box so everyone could really look at it. Each of the kids picked a favorite word or phrase from the verse but most everyone repeated in their own heart…’have hope’, ‘have hope’, ‘have… hope’. From this point forward, Zeb never had to tell any of them to pay attention… far from it.
With great expression, hand motion, Zeb told the kids, “I want you to imagine you are in a gold mine with your miner’s hat with its little light on your head. You have a pick and shovel in your hands and have been told there is real gold in front of you, just below the surface. You are certain that the gold is not going to jump out at you, right? If you want the gold to be yours you’ll need to use your pick and shovel.” Buddy got a yes nod from all his listeners except Smokey lying between the old boots.
He then asked the kids to each pick a word out of the verse that might be a place to start digging for this gold called Hope. Buddy complimented each of them for showing the group where to start digging. Monte raised his hand and said he didn’t know what that ‘aforetime’ word was. With a warm loving smile the old gentleman with the silver mustache began to dig.
“’Aforetime’ is an old time word that means ‘long long ago’. It kind of makes you think these things that were written long ago are still around and can be trusted even now in this age of computers and space ships.” Buddy looked to see if each young person gave him an ‘I understand’ expression before he continued.
“Who picked the word ‘learning’? We do that every day don’t we? Never let your guard down because it’s pretty easy to learn garbage stuff that only evil people will like. These things will actually lead you farther away from anything that pleases God. Learning is not just reading things any more than gold mining is just digging up the gold. We have to pick up the gold ore and put it in our bucket. We need to make it our own. Learning is information that goes in one ear and finds a home before it leaks back out our other ear. Ha-ha.”
Zeb’s heart was pounding like a jack-hammer as he heard himself faithful to God’s call upon his life to uncover kid comfort using precious scripture. He almost dropped his Bible as he slapped his knee thinking of the word ‘patience’ and where he learned its meaning.
“Ol’ Granny Nestum, bless her heart. She taught me that ‘patience’ is a TIME word. It takes time to say it. It takes time to learn to spell it. And it sure takes time to DO it right!” he told the boys and girls. He continued, “Just like back in her pioneer days, for some folks there was too much time to get into mischief and others there just wasn’t enough hours in each day.
Kids, remind me to tell you sometime how I thought I could churn the butter faster by rolling it down the hill.” With another slap on the knee Buddy figured he’d better get back to business ‘cuz it’ll be goin' home time shortly.
He again said the phrase with great feeling, “comfort of the scriptures” and still repeated it once more. All the boys and girls could see a tired expression come to Zeb’s face knowing he was thinking of difficult storms of life that he had weathered. The kids thought of themselves as being in the same boat with their beloved Buddy and cherished his every word.
“There have been times in my life so difficult I felt like a sailor thrown out of the boat and bobbing in the waves with nothing to hold onto except a life preserver. I would search the nearby waters for any telltale signs of vicious sharks and thinking my life was over. I somehow felt that God had turned his back on me because I had not been good enough in His eyes. It was then I read some words on the top of the life preserver around me. The words written in Heaven’s blue color, “… have hope.”
Zeb asked each kid to search his or her heart, “What do you have surrounding you, Satan’s lies or Heaven-sent Hope?”