Dr. L.H. Newsome, former and now deceased pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Toledo, shared with me an interesting and intriguing experience that he had when he lived on a small farm in Mississippi, which was surrounded by a patch of woods that he and his family called the “Thicket.”
When he and some friends were playing baseball, Pastor Newsome said that he was playing centerfield, and a boy on the opposite team hit a long ball that landed in the “Thicket.”
Someone on his team shouted, get the ball L.H., get the ball. Pastor Newsome said he started to retrieve the ball, only he found himself staring at that thicket. Not wanting to feel the briars, he hastily walked back to the field without the ball.
He remembered all that his parents had told him about the briars in that thicket, so he retreated to the safety of the baseball field. But he said that while he was in that thicket, he looked on the other side and he saw something that caught his attention. He said he saw a mansion perched high on a hill surrounded by rolling hills.
L.H. Newsome decided to walk on through the tickets and explore more fully what his eyes had seen. He never went back to the small farm that he knew before he explored the unfamiliar world beyond the thicket.
Perhaps his father and mother feared that if their little boy saw the other world, he would never come back. His physical and psychological security was tied to their little farm.
The world beyond the thicket was always there, but his father and mother never told him. So, all that he knew was the familiar little farm on which he had grown up, and he never left it.
As soon as I heard Pastor Newsome’s story, I remembered the small religious world that I grew up in. What I didn’t know was not worth knowing. After all everything and everybody worth knowing, I knew them. And what was more important, neither did Jesus; or so I thought. There is something about self-righteousness that is self-defeating.
For more than 10 agonizing years, I was driven by an inner force that I cannot explain. On the outside I was a hypocrite and on the inside I was miserable. Like the famous Platters, I became the great Pretender, pretending that I was doing fine.
I thought that because I did not see eye to eye on everything with other Christians, we could not work shoulder to shoulder on anything. Issues of civil, human and voting rights, there was no reason that I could not reach out to my brothers and sisters in other churches.
I remembered watering my grass one day, and the water went from a great force to only a trickle. Then a voice said to me, “Floyd, you’re standing on the hose. Get off the hose and the water will flow.” When I got off the hose the water flowed again.
I listened with interest as Dr. Jill Biden, her husband, Joe, and his vice president to be, Kamala Harris, took center stage in Delaware to say that they were ready to lead America and all of its people to bigger and better things. I was thrilled and so were millions of other people across this nation who were willing to get off the hose, and risk it all beyond the thicket.
Floyd Rose of Valdosta is senior servant of Serenity Church.