John’s Jots – Push Those Gates

Summertime in Texas.  Man!  Has it been hot!

Last weekend we joined our extended family for our annual reunion – the thirtieth year in an unbroken string.  We gathered at a hunting lodge on the Nueces River near Uvalde.  It took us eight hours to drive to this isolated area about 130 miles west of San Antonio on the edge of the Texas Hill Country.  Don’t imagine clear, icy-cold, spring-fed rivers babbling under soaring cypress trees.  That would be a little to the north and east.  Think more of the Hill Country petering out into the West Texas scrub.  Man!  It was hot!  And cloudless!  And very, very dry.  Most people probably wouldn’t choose this location for a long August weekend, but we are an exceptional family.

So, there we were – in the middle of nowhere in 109 degree heat – trying to understand the entry code for the far-too-grandiose gates that opened onto a dusty caliche road leading through a pasture filled with bleating llamas (yes, llamas).  I had the access code; I pushed on the keypad; beeps ensued; the gates did not open.  The gates had a big sign on them cautioning “Do Not Push the Gates”.  I did not push the gates.  I entered the entry code again and again, but the gates remained stubbornly closed.  Finally, the keypad made a new more sinister sound and refused to accept any more of my prodding.  Great!  Now I was locked out of the keypad charged with opening the locked gates that I must not push.  I was getting rather warm.  Just then, in the distance through the gates I saw a rising cloud of caliche dust – the cavalry was coming to our rescue.  It turned out not to be the cavalry but just the ranch manager heading into Uvalde to do whatever one does in Uvalde.  I haven’t got a clue.  No matter.  He was our savior.  He stopped his pickup; he approached the gates; with the slightest effort, he pushed them open.  But!  But!  The sign said “Do Not Push the Gates” in ominous red letters!  I was nearly dead from heat prostration, and all I had to do was Push the Gates!

There is a lesson here.

Too often, we erect barriers that keep us from our goals.  We may say, “It would be great to have 75 people in the choir loft for worship.  We would sound a lot better and minister better to the congregation, but I can’t convince anyone to join choir.”  Push on those gates.  Offer a general invitation to be a Festival Singer to your Sunday School class, or UMW Circle, or Bible Study group.  Send a Festival Singers invitation card to singers on your Christmas list.  Push on those gates.  Think outside the box.  Spread the good word about Chancel Choir.  Someone may just say “YES!”

See you in church this Sunday.  JRB

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