And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, “Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,” when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Hearing this first-century wisdom preached in twentieth-century Arkansas marked a big step forward in my personal engagement with the church. I was six years old, or thereabouts. It was if a light turned on for me. It was as if I thought, ‘ This Jesus fellow makes sense. And he just gave me a delightful shock. Something to keep me awake and growing the rest of my life. As for church, I think I’ll stick with it.’
I would enjoy many more trips to Prescott with my family, and much more training and nurture at First Methodist. For me, it was holy ground. Then my grandparents were gone, and not much reason to return. Years passed. My last trip to Prescott happened in 2013, when Uncle Paul died, and we needed to clear out his house. Now the venerable matriarch of the group, I insisted we go to church. I took some pictures. Couple of years later, looking at the pictures, I remembered some unfinished business. Listen:
At sixty-something and sound of mind
And long in the Methodist church
I remember how it started
Finding a place to perch
Perch at the church with my grandma
When I was six or seven
We prayed, and oh! we sang the songs!
I was sure that this was heaven
Creaking pews and ladies in hats
And me so young and small
Dark polished wood and walls of white
Fans whirring on the wall
Velvet on stately upright chairs
For preachers and bishops I guess
Should a bishop appear of a Sunday
We’d want to do no less
And there above the choir
Knocking at the door
Stained-glass Jesus with his staff
Stirred me to my core
Robed in red, gowned in blue
Poised to hear if I heard
Him on the doorstep of my heart
Waiting with a word
And then the preacher, Brother DeBlack,
He talked to us a while
And I remember the story he told
And how it made me smile
He offered a pearl of teaching
Before me bright it lay
It opened the heart of a little girl
And stayed there to this day
A log and a speck, how funny is that
How delightfully down to earth
I heard it in Prescott, Arkansas
Ground of my father’s birth
To me it made such perfect sense
That one can hardly see
To take a speck from someone’s eye
When in your own—a tree!
A log and a speck, a speck and a log
A sprightly thought for me
A verse I heard in the Methodist church
How lucky can one child be?
But hearing it is one thing
And practicing another
For often still I find a log
And hypocrisy? Oh brother!
Quick to note transgressions
And take your inventory
Not so eager to list my own
Examine my part in the story
I have so many blind spots
And miss important things
Stlll God loves me, this I know
God’s wisdom round me rings
Wisdom, and friendly reminders
God woke me, that’s a fact!
To take the time to send my thanks
To Brother Alfred DeBlack
Not him of course for he is gone
But I found an address for his son
My email flew to Arkansas
And I hoped he was the one
Why, yes he was, and he was glad
To have a word from me
He’d been that day to the grave of his dad
Under a lone oak tree
Looking back was Thomas DeBlack
When I reached out to him
Just two ‘kids’ looking back to their dads
Remembering Alfred, and Jim
Our fathers, and other dear ones
And precious days of old
When we were, as we are, beloved
Lambs in the Methodist fold
A lovely if sentimental thought!
For Tom may be a lamb
I’m sure he is—I have no doubt
But that’s hardly who I am
I’m a lamb not always lamblike
For I can hurl lightning and frogs
But I can be better if I can beware
Of lurking ocular logs
The teaching of Jesus hits us where we live. We cannot stand as humbugs before him for one second. He educates us down to the scruple…There is no getting away from the penetration of Jesus. If I see a mote in your eye, it means I have a beam in my own. Every wrong thing I see in you, God locates in me. Every time I judge, I condemn myself…I have never met the man I could despair of after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God… You have to walk in the light of the vision that has been given to you and not compare yourself with others or judge them; that is between them and God.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. And do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.
And underneath are the everlasting Arms.
One thought on “Proposal for a Bumper Sticker: How Is Your Log Removal Going?”
I enjoyed your whimsical poetry
reminiscing about your childhood worship experiences…and The Speck and the LOG. Always thought Jesus had an ENORMOUS sense of humor as I read this passage over the years.
Blessings to you!