Thursday, March 24, 2016

Don't be a Bum

            I have a student named Ned. 

            That’s not really his name, because who in this day and age would name a son Ned? 

            I apologize if you have indeed named your son Ned, and may your Ned achieve the success of other Neds, such as Ned Beatty, who, according to the sidebar on my Google search page, “…is an American actor who has appeared in more than 160 films and has been nominated for an Academy Award, two Emmy Awards, an MTV Movie Award for Best Villain…” and lots more, but that’s not the point of today’s blog.

            Besides, Ned Beatty was born in 1937 when naming your son Ned was a perfectly rational and acceptable thing to do.

            The point of today’s blog is what my student, who for the purpose of anonymity and avoiding expensive legal repercussions shall be called Ned, repeatedly asks of another student, the Bum. Of course the Bum is not the other student’s name, but since I have heard Ned say to this other boy, “You’re a bum” countless times, I now also refer to him as the Bum.

            And what does Ned want from the Bum? He wants to spend time with him. So every Thursday in fourth period study hall—am I losing anonymity here?—Ned begins by asking the Bum, “What are you doing this weekend?”

            The Bum always offers a lame response with an important but unlikely activity, such as “I’m rotating the tires on my great-aunt’s Honda.” Or “I’m volunteering in the kitchen at the homeless shelter.” Or “I have a lot of homework.”

            Ned proceeds to suggest an abundance of fun things he, the Bum, and more friends could do together. They could see a new movie. 


            “You’re a bum.”

            They could go to a sporting event. 


            “You’re a bum.”

            Ned could come over to the Bum’s house, where allegedly many entertaining options exist:  pool, foosball, and ping pong tables; large screen TV and lots of gaming systems and games; snacks galore. 


            “You’re a bum.”

            In the Bum’s defense, he is a busy guy with a delightful, lovely girlfriend, whom he would much rather see on the weekend than Ned. However, for the purposes of my allegory, we’ll continue to let the Bum be a bum.

            In my allegory, Ned portrays God, who keeps asking his friends, “What are you doing today? Want to spend some time with me?” 

            And the Bum portrays me and God’s other feckless friends who have a plethora of lame responses to avoid God:  “I need to catch up on my sleep.” Or, “I’ve got to clean up the kitchen.” Or, “I have a lot of homework to grade.” Or, “I’m going to meet my friends at the Well.” Or, “Okay, but I just want to check Facebook first.”

            My friend Sue’s honest response to God’s invitation resonated with me in a disturbing way:  “I’ve strayed away from my Bible devotions lately. It’s probably the reason for the onset of my depression. I haven’t been seeking out hope and love from the Lord. Why do I stray if it means so much to me? Time mostly. Fear too. Did you ever have one of those friends that gives it to you straight when you’d rather they just listen? God is like that. Sometimes I just don’t talk to him because I don’t want to hear it.”

         You can read the rest of Sue’s post here:

            I confess I avoid God because I don’t need one more person telling me what I’m doing wrong or one more person asking me to do one more thing. Even if it’s Person with a capital P.

            But when I finally stop the lame excuses, I’m stunned when I see God’s invitations. 

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11, NIV
            Oh, so God is inviting me for rest and a lighter burden? That’s what I keep saying I need.

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live. Isaiah 55, NIV

            God is inviting me to quench my thirst and sate my appetite? He’s inviting me to have a delightful time?

            I’d be a bum to reject these invitations. 

            Note to self:  Don’t be a bum.


  1. You never fail to make me laugh, Roberta! Thanks for the reminder to heed God's prompting to spend time with Him.

  2. I don't want to be a bum either.