No. 750

The late Will Rogers once said, “It’s just as important to be reminded as it is to be educated.” Keeping this thought in mind, I would like to remind you of something that you may already know but may have forgotten. When it comes to getting an education, there is much more to learn than what we are getting or have gotten in the classroom. The real test comes when we leave school or college, for whatever length of time, and go out into the real world. This is where the rubber meets the road. At some time or another, most of us have had mountain-top experiences where we met our quota, reached our goal, won our race, won the game, got the man or woman of our dreams and any number of other things.
While we all love to be up on the mountain top, and that is a great feeling, I want to remind you that we learn more when we are down in the valleys. It’s during our dark days, lonely nights, uncertain times and, figuratively speaking, not knowing where our next meal is coming from, that we learn many of the really important things in life.
I was reminded of this some time back during a conversation with my good friend, Jack Bloxom, who lives here in our community. Jack and his wife Janie are salt-of-the-earth kind of people, and Viola and I enjoy spending quality time with them, especially when we go out to breakfast on Saturday mornings at our local Cracker Barrel restaurant.
Jack is semi-retired and works part-time for a statewide funeral home chain, but most of his life was spent as a pastor for a number of churches here in Arkansas and in Texas, where he grew up and finished high school. He was telling about the days when he was in seminary, back in the early 1950s, with little or no money and just trying to get by from week to week. During his seminary years he preached halftime at two different churches, and one was 80 miles away. If I recall, one paid him $25 per week and the other 90 percent of the offering. One year the tires on his car were about gone, so he bought a set of Goodyear tires on the credit. He was doing his best to keep his payments current, but one week he just couldn’t make it, so he went to the manager to let him know. The manager said, “When can you pay me?” Jack said, “Next week.” The manager said, “That’s not late.”
But it was to Jack, and that’s the point. He took his obligations seriously. Another time he was to lead the singing for a revival in a church more than 350 miles away in another state. He had gas money to get there, but had to depend on what they paid him to buy gas to get back home. He also said, “In three months’ time, after Janie and I got married, I had gained over 20 pounds and my suit would not fit me. The pants legs came up above my ankles so I put a new suit on layaway and the payment was $17.50 each month. Naturally, I wanted to look nice when I led the singing for this revival, but I did not have the money to get it out.” There were hundreds or even thousands of young preacher boys all across the nation who had similar experiences. They were certainly not in it for the money.
Today, there are literally millions of people all over our nation who are hurting, in debt, unemployed, do not have insurance, and have no savings. They need a word of encouragement. While really unpleasant, and my heart goes out to you, if you are in these circumstances, we do learn more when we are in the valleys. Jack is stronger today, spiritually, emotionally and financially, because of what he went through back then.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)