A Stop at the Wrong House

Published 9:36 am Thursday, September 21, 2017

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

It is a story from decades ago that I’ve retold countless times. Its punchline–wadded up into a few words–sums up the conundrums that hit us daily with tornadic force.

Allow me, please, to set it up: At a country shack–one that could easily be a “poster house” for poverty–a government guy knocks on the door.

A “mountain man” (or woman) responds with a curt, “Whadda ya want?” greeting. (After all, the ramshackle residence far out in the woods is not easily accessed. No one passes it on the way to town.)

“I’ve come to take the census,” the visitor says, pen and pad at the ready to “enter” data. (Obviously, this occurred long before there were iPhones and iPads for entering data.)   The host (or hostess) was bumfuzzled. “Census” was a foreign word–one the mountaineer had never heard before. “What’s airy census?” Somewhat frustrated, the record-keeper responds, “Don’t you realize that every 10 years, the government tries to find out how many men, women and children are living in this country?”

“That’s well and good, I guess,” the guy answers. But you’ve come to the wrong house, ‘cause I don’t know.”

John Q. Public, it seems, is expected to know far more about a myriad of issues, challenges and outright dangers.

The citizenry is frustrated.

And when the guy from the government–or wherever–pellets us with questions, there are worse answers than the one from the mouth of the mountaineer a hundred years ago: “You’ve come to the wrong house, ‘cause we don’t know.”

We really don’t. Mass media–both “real” and “fake”–provide us with more material than we can process.

Throw in social media–and a bunch of other stuff–and our eyes cross these days. We suffer from information overload, most of us spiraling downward in a vortex of bewilderment.

We shudder at the prospect of upcoming news segments, certain that almost all of them will begin with “breaking news.”

At times, about the most we can hope for is comic relief. Recalled is a favorite story of the incomparable Jerry Clower. The late country comedian told about the guys hunting for raccoons late one night. A hound dog seems certain he’s “treed” one, so one of the hunters scales the tree, where he expects to encounter a raccoon in the upper branches.

Soon, a scuffle near the tree top breaks out. The brave hunter isn’t handling things so well, since his foe, it turns out, is a bobcat. “Shoot up here,” he begs his friend, who yells back, “What if I hit you?”

“Shoot anyway,” the tree climber answers. “One of us has got to have some relief.”

Christians believe genuine relief, comfort and assurance in the midst of all we face is provided by Jesus Christ, who stands at the door and knocks.

A pastor who told of his Savior in sermons and songs was the late Rev. Ira Stanphill, who may be most remembered as a composer of many hymns. Many of them became favorites since his death a quarter-century ago.

“I Know Who Holds My Hand” is a comfort to many Christians these days. The second verse seems to be a particularly good fit: “Every step is getting brighter as the golden stairs I climb; Every burden’s getting lighter; Every cloud is silver-lined. There the sun is always shining, There no tear will dim the eye; At the ending of the rainbow, Where the mountains touch the sky. Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand, But I know who holds tomorrow, And I know who holds my hand.”

I think this day of angels. God’s Word says we were created a “little lower than the angels,” a standard worthy of our stretching to reach.

The Bible includes 270 references to angels, who’ve been around since Creation.

And, they’ve never been more needed than in our world today.


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com