My family and I were enjoying a much needed vacation at a little resort in the Virginia mountains. Not long after lunch we decided to move from the indoor water park to the outdoor area that included a wave pool and water slide.
I vaguely recall hearing a sound that resembled a gong at the very same moment I recognized a couple of colleagues who were vacationing in the same place came into sight. We were walking one direction and they were headed the other but I certain that I saw them just as that gong sounded.
I really wanted to tell my family that I had spotted them. I really, really, wanted to call out to my colleagues and say, “Hello!”, however, it was then that I realized the “gong sound” I heard was actually coming from the sign post that the side of my head had made contact with as I walked along.
The sound was followed by a blinding bright light and I really could not understand how whole family was able to see me and grab hold of me when this light was so bright. I couldn’t see them. How could they see me? But they did. And they gently – but laughingly – led me to a place that I could sit down and assess the damage.
My vision cleared quickly and it was pretty apparent that I had suffered no lasting damage, and so I told my family that the only reason the pole and my head met was because I had seen these friends there.
“Was that before or after you smacked your head?” one of my loving, caring, daughters asked.
I didn’t answer but just let it go until we ran into…wait, bad word choice there…until we met the folks I saw a little later in the other part of the water park.
I love this story about myself, Perhaps my love for it goes back to my childhood love of the cartoon “George of the Jungle.” Perhaps I like it because it reminds me to be humble because its hard to tell when I will next make a fool of myself.
I love this story so much that I used it in my sermon this past Sunday. When church was over, Pam, my mom, and I got into the car to head to lunch. As I drove, Pam said, “You know, Scott, you have told that story before.”
“Of course I’ve told that story before,” I responded. “It’s one of my favorite stories and I have used it everywhere we lived.”
“No,” Pam continued, “you’ve told that story here in Huntington.”
“No way! I’ve only preached seven sermons here. I may not have been updating my story database but there is no way I have used the same story twice in seven weeks!”
Pam was silent.
Later that evening, as I carefully made note of the “Massanutten Head Smack” story being used TWICE at First United Methodist Church in Huntington – July 21 and August 25 – in my now very up to date story database, I could almost hear a gong…almost see a blinding light.
But I could definitely remember that there is nothing that will humble a person more completely than the act of preaching.
To Pam…thanks for setting the record straight. You were right. I was wrong. Bet that happens a couple hundred more times in our lives.
To my congregation…I’m sorry I assaulted you with the same story twice. I hope it was better the second time around.
To poles and illustrations everywhere, I pray I don’t run into you more than once. If I do, just know I will be thinking of my old hero George.