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Right Hearts Right Hearts
    by Philip Gulley

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    There were five children in my family when I was growing up — four sons and one daughter. My sister, Chick, was the oldest child, and I came in at number four. Occasionally she would baby-sit us and, though we were bigger, she had a strong right hook and thus our wary respect. She was the scout for the family wagon train, and the rest of us looked to her to show us the way.

    Most of the family “firsts” belong to Chick except for marriage. She and Tom got a late start on their nuptials and wanted to squeeze in three children before she turned forty. They had three boys in three years, which is not the textbook way to go about it.

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    There have been some problems, mostly with their oldest boy the three-year-old, who acquired the habit of locking his two younger brothers in their bedrooms. Been a lot of anxious moments spent jimmying open door locks while those toddlers were on the other side of the door stuffing who knows what in their mouths, choking, and turning blue.

    Tom and Chick took all the doorknobs off, except for the one on their bedroom door, which they turned around so that the lock was on the outside of the room. This worked fine until one morning when my sister was making her bed and heard the door shut behind her with her oldest boy inside her room and the door locked behind him from the outside. The other children were downstairs, unsupervised and inaccessible, probably at that very moment poking their tongues into electrical sockets.

    She sat on the bed and cried and cried and cried. Forty years old, three children, and she’s headed for nervous breakdown country. This beautiful woman who graduated from college with a perfect 4.0, outwitted by a three-year-old. At that moment, she believed in day care as never before.

    She stuck her head out the window and yelled for a neighbor to come over and unlock her bedroom door, which a neighbor did. Chick was humiliated. She called me that night to tell me about it. She asked me not to tell anyone. I told her not to worry, her secret was safe with me.

“What were we thinking?””
    She said, “Why did we turn that lock around? What were we thinking?”

    I admired her candor. If that had been me, I don’t think I would have told anyone, or if I had, I would have found a way to make it someone else’s fault. I have this sad little habit of needing others to think well of me. Not my sister. She was candid and willing to admit her lapse. Such a refreshing change from our know-it-all tendencies.

    I was singing in an Easter choir once, and a man asked me why the song said Jesus died on a tree. I was so eager to impress, I gave him a long, seminary-type answer about crucifixion methods in first-century Palestine. He listened to me go on, then said, “Oh, I just thought maybe they used the word ‘tree’ because it rhymed.”

    A lot of folks think closeness to God means knowing all the right answers. But I don’t agree. I think closeness to God begins the night we toss and turn in bed, realizing we don’t know it all. Look at the Bible. Some of its finest saints were long on questions: Job on his ash heap, the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray Nicodemus grilling Jesus late into the night, even Jesus on the cross.

    Having spent much of my life showing off my smarts, I nearly choke on the words “I don’t know.” Still, I suspect those words might be the kingdom keys. What it boils down to is that God doesn’t care so much whether or not we have all the right answers. Just right hearts.

From the book Front Porch Tales, by Philip Gulley. © 1997 by Multnomah Pub., used by permission.


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About the Author...
Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor who ministers in Indianapolis. He is married and has two preschool sons. In addition to pastoring and writing, Gulley enjoys spending Sunday afternoons in his hometown.

 
Title: "Right Hearts"
Author: Philip Gulley
Publication Date: November 2, 2000

 

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HEARTLIGHT® Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills Church of Christ. Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee, assisted by Roberto Gelleni and Ben Steed. Frank Cloutier is Executive Director.
From the book Front Porch Tales, by Philip Gulley. © 1997 by Multnomah Pub., Used by permission.
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