Preachers Losing Their Marbles

When I was five years old I thought our preacher hung the moon.

Coal black hair.  Big expressive eyes.  And a smile that you never had to wait for. 

                 At church on Sunday nights he invited all the kids to come sit on the front pew of the auditorium and take turns reciting the memory verse that had been printed in the bulletin that week just for us.

 He called it “pew packers.”

My mother would get the bulletin out before church and help me memorize the Bible verse.  I would say it over and over again in the car on the way there so that I wouldn’t forget it when it was my turn. 

Each week I waited for him to squat down in front of me with the microphone, my heart pounding faster as he approached.  Then before I knew it, he was right in front of me, and for an instant I couldn’t remember.  But somehow the verse always came out.  And his smile and eyes grew even bigger.

One week after church on a Wednesday night, while people were standing around talking in the foyer, he invited me into his office nearby. 

I’ll never forget the blue carpet on the floor and the walls of books around his desk.   

The preacher sat down at his desk and opened the top drawer, telling me he had something he wanted to give me.  He pulled out two red marbles and placed them in my hand. 

To this day, I don’t know why he chose to give me marbles. 

 But it didn’t matter.  Those marbles might as well have been rubies.

I took them home and kept them for years in an old cigar box. 

I still have them.

I don’t know if Jimmy Jividen knew how powerful those marbles were, but I got to thinking about him this week while I was eating lunch with my current preacher.

Maybe I enjoyed that lunch as much as I did partly because of Jimmy. 

What would it be like if every kid encountered a preacher who made them feel that special?   What if every kid associated preachers – someone who helps you learn about God – with someone who makes time for you and squats down to your level?  Who’s interested in what you have to say and smiles at you a lot?  

Even when you don’t know the memory verse.  

Even if you lose your marbles.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. dan gary says:

    you got a way with those words very good story to tell all about your “Pew Packers” times at church. Love You!

  2. Tim Hayes says:

    Sally –

    I love your catchy title; however, it got me thinking. Many days, it is literally a fight to not “lose one’s marbles,” but in the case of Jimmy Jividen, he certainly did not “lose” them. He knew exactly where they were. He “entrusted” them to one who has proven herself worthy enough to have saved and cherished them – to this very day. Now, it is rather possible that he did not consciously “entrust” them to you, but there is a lesson to be learned here.

    Do we consider the little gifts we bestow upon others, or are we merely passing them along without consideration for the lifelong significance they may have on another’s life? It may be a kind word; it may be an affectionate smile, or it may something tangible – like two red marbles. But what are we passing along to those who walk beside us – and those who will follow in the years to come – that will someday serve as a reminder of how special God made us, especially when the enemy, the fallen world around us, and our own hearts try to convince us otherwise?

    Is there a truer sermon for one to preach than this? Certainly something to ponder…


  3. Lisa says:

    Okay. Call me a stalker if you want. I had to comment on this one.

    Amen! I was just thinking this morning – no lie – how grateful I am to have that kind of relationship with my “preacher”. Even 51 year old kids need that. I am so blessed. Thanks for posting this, Sal. As always, it touched me deeply.

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