Category Archives: Columnists

Bodley Bulletins, by Julia Ludington

I hope everyone is enjoying their week off from school.

The Student Senate, FBLA, French Club and Hope Club have all decided to extend the deadline for canned goods collection to Feb. 28.

If you have not already brought in any non-perishable items, or if you would like to bring in more, please plan to when we get back to school. It is for a great cause.

Some teachers are offering incentives for bringing in cans, so make sure to participate. Don’t forget that the Guided Study Hall that collects the most will win a breakfast.

Our FBLA team had a very successful competition recently. The club brought home 12 awards in total. Two first-place awards were won by two of our exchange students, and two other Bodley students also brought home first-place awards.

Our FBLA club always does very well, and we are very proud. Some students even make it to state and national-level competitions. Best of luck for the rest of the year to our fellow GRB students!

On Valentine’s Day, students enjoyed a bit of fun sponsored by the German Club. Students could purchase notes for that special someone or friends and have them delivered to their guided study halls on Friday. The event created a nice atmosphere for the holiday even at the high school.

Students who have signed up for the GRB mentor program should report to their second session Feb. 25.

See you all back at school next week!

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

“Chick” Tallman

While recently re-reading a column that I wrote in “The Fulton Patriot,” I was reminded of a venerable Fulton character, Vernon “Chick” Tallman.

Chick had worked his way to the top of the list of well-known Fulton faces.

From that column:

“The first Fultonian I saw when I arrived in this fine city for the first time turned out to be Chick Tallman. As I approached the old Patriot building on the corner of Oneida and South Second streets on a wintry February day, Chick was in the middle of the road directing traffic.

“What a quaint uniform this city’s policemen wear, I could have thought.”

As I said in that column, I was soon to find out that if you knew anything about Fulton, you knew about Vernon “Chick” Tallman.

“Serving as a traffic cop wasn’t a strange role for Chick. I soon found out that Chick was also Fulton’s foremost ambassador.

“He was always somewhere to be found on the downtown scene. I got to know Chick well as The Fulton Patriot building served as his headquarters for at least part of every day.”

“He was responsible for seeing that every downtown merchant received a copy of each week’s Patriot, and he was always available to run errands throughout the area. Chick was often seen with a broom in his hand. He attended every baseball game in town, kept home plate swept clean, and often jumped on the bus for the away games.”

That column pointed out that Patriot employees had a lot of fun with Chick:  “One former employee remembers Chick studiously counting his papers out before delivery.

‘Two, three, four,’ Chick would say. ‘Eight, nine, 10,’ someone would say. ‘Eleven, 12, 13,’ Chick would continue. ‘Three, four, five,’ someone else would say. ‘Six, seven, eight,’ Chick would answer.”

Patriot employees also watched out for Chick. One year, after a particularly heavy first snowfall, employees made sure Chick had a sturdy new pair of winter boots.

The Patriot column detailed a special gift to commemorate Chick’s 70th birth-day. Fultonians responded to a drive spearheaded by Joe Arnold of Foster’s to raise funds to send Chick to New York City for a weekend of Yankee games.

Another Fulton native, Harold “Buck” Greene, who wrote a column each week for his hometown’s “Patriot,” through his connections with Major League Baseball, helped arrange Chick’s weekend trip.

“In his Patriot column that week, Greene said, ‘Well folks, it has happened, Chick Tallman has viewed the city of New York and most important, he saw the weekend series between the Yankees and the Twins.”

Greene continued, “What’s more, on Friday night Chick had the best seat in the house, behind home plate in a front row box. He could have called balls and strikes all night.

“Chick was presented with an autographed baseball by members of the World Champion Yankees, and before returning to Fulton he visited the World’s Fair.

“Time didn’t allow for a sweep-off of home base at Yankee Stadium, but after the action-packed weekend, with much royal treatment thrown in, Chick returned to Fulton with a new Yankees shirt along with the big Chick Tallman smile.”

Many Fultonians undoubtedly still have pleasant memories of Chick Tallman.

From “The Farmer’s Almanac”

Scanning the pages of the 2014 issue of “The Farmer’s Almanac,” I discover that I can:

*Buy “Fresh, Healthy Nuts” – (explanation required).

“Or Laundry balls, concertinas and old phonographs (or sell them).

*Find a “spiritual healer.”  Sister Cindy clears negativity and bad luck; Rev. Jackson is a voodoo healer, and Mrs. Annie, spiritualist, reunites lovers.

*There are several days listed during each month as the best days to: Have dental care, cut hair to encourage (or discourage) growth, or to can, pickle or make sauerkraut.

I also discovered that some folks are fond of puns, such as:

*A hole has been found in the wall of a nudist camp. The police are “looking into it.”

“Two silkworms had a race.  They ended up “in a tie”.

I was interested to learn about some “planting” folklore:

*To make a plant grow, spit into the hole you have dug for it.”

*Anything planted by a pregnant woman will flourish.

*Never thank a person for giving you a plant or it will die; in fact, the best way to ensure that plant slips will thrive is to steal them.

*Never plan anything on the 31st of the month.

*Never plant anything until the frogs have croaked three times, because there will be a killing frost before then.

*Anything planted on Good Friday will grow well.

Now You Know:

This year’s Farmer’s Almanac tells us:

*At the age of 60, fitness expert Jack La Lanne swam from Alcatracz to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf while handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.

*As far as the weather in our area of the country is concerned, winter was expected to be slightly milder than normal, with near-normal precipitation and below normal snowfall in most of the region.

And, finally, the Almanac wants us to know that 200 years ago, the lyrics of “The Star Spangled Banner” took shape on the back of a letter, scribbled there by Francis Scott Key.

                                       . . . Roy Hodge   

The Sportsman’s World — The Crossbow War

By Leon Archer

In July, 1863, when the armed forces of the Confederacy lost Vicksburg, their last stronghold on the Mississippi, and suffered the punishing defeat of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg, the South would have been wise to have sued for peace, but they soldiered on for nearly two more years before the civil war finally drew to a close.

The opponents in the Crossbow War could take a lesson from the misfortunes of Old Dixie.

Just as the Confederacy lost the war, imperceptibly at first, battlefield by battlefield, while the invading Yankees became stronger and more numerous, so the forces resisting the coming of the crossbow are facing defeat.

It may not be this year in New York state, but the results from battlefield to battlefield across this country leave little doubt who the winners will be in the end.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his support for the legalization of the crossbow for hunting purposes in New York state during his State of the State message.

And just as importantly, he would give regulation authority for its use to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

I don’t agree with a lot of what our governor has said and done, but I’m with him 100 percent on this.

Of course, we will need both houses of our legislature to produce legislation which the majority will support and pass in order for the governor’s proposal to become reality.

That legislation should include the final battlefield, which is that the classification of the crossbow would be as a legal bow for use in any season and any area where archery is allowed, including archery only areas.

If that final victory doesn’t come this year, it will come soon. The hand writing is on the wall, and further resistance can only damage both sides, not change the final outcome.

Since the early 1970s, when only Arkansas and Ohio allowed hunting with a crossbow, the number of states accepting its use has grown steadily. Today, a total of 34 states have loosened or dropped their restrictions on crossbows since the year 2000.

At present, the battle is completely over in 24 states which now allow the crossbow to be used during any hunting season where archery is allowed, a movement that is gaining popularity in other open-minded states.

This is a civil war, sportsmen fighting sportsmen, both sides believing they are right, but only one side can win, and the empirical evidence is clear, crossbows are in our future.

The strongest resistance comes from a sportsman’s group, The New York Bow Hunters. They argue the crossbow is some sort of superior weapon, a silent super weapon that will allow poachers to decimate the deer herd.

While they claim the crossbow has an effective range of nearly seventy yards, at the same time they suggest more deer will be wounded and run off if crossbows are allowed, because they claim the crossbow is not as efficient as the bow they use.

They say the crossbow is so easy to use that a novice can be slaughtering deer on the same day they buy it. They say the crossbow does not require the same amount of dedication and commitment that is necessary to become a good archer.

A lot of other things they say about the crossbow were used by opponents of the compound bow and releases back in the 70s. Those arguments don’t hold any more water today when applied to the crossbow than they did back when they were applied to the compound bow.

I have to admit that I have never hunted with a crossbow, but I have shot them at targets quite a bit. I can tell you one thing from my own experience. The crossbow is very accurate at close range out to 30 yards or so, but at 70 yards it leaves a great deal to be desired. I would hardly call it effective at that range. At the longer ranges, the compound is much better, but even then, few archers will chance shooting at a deer 70 yards away.

As far as a tool for poaching, it is too cumbersome and why use it when a 22 caliber rifle would do the job far better.

I have never been a poacher, but I knew an old fellow years ago who lived up on the Tug Hill east of Sandy Creek, and my father told me that man fed his family on venison year round that he took with a single shot 22 rifle. It is quiet, doesn’t draw attention, and it is lethal well beyond the effective range of the crossbow or compound.

As far as wounding more deer, think about this. There is no reason why a bolt from a crossbow should cause the loss of any more deer than one might expect from an arrow from a compound bow.

They both work exactly the same way, causing reasonably quick death from massive bleeding due to the razor sharp blades. To put down the crossbow on this account is to damn the compound bow as well.

When I bought my first compound bow, I was able to hit the bullseye at 30 yards after just a couple of shots to adjust my aiming pin. After that I was pretty consistent.

Later that week, I was shooting from the roof on my shed, putting arrows through styrofoam cups on the ground. It didn’t require any great amount of dedication and commitment to use the compound bow well enough to hit any deer that wandered by my tree stand.

The dedication and commitment has little to do with the ease of use of either the crossbow or the modern compound bow. It is learning to hunt successfully and consistently that requires dedication and commitment, and that is true whether you hunt with a rifle, shotgun, crossbow, compound bow or black powder rifle.

I truly believe that bow hunters just don’t want to share their archery season with anyone carrying a crossbow. They deny that, but the denial has a false ring to it in my ears.

I believe it is time to end the war. It is time for bow hunters and crossbow hunters to learn to live together. I’m pretty sure, in a few years, everyone will be wondering what all the fuss was about.

That’s what has happened in the 24 states that have led the way.

States Allowing Crossbow Hunting

Arkansas 

Ohio

Michigan

Florida

Kansas

Delaware

Indiana

Alabama

Maryland

Texas

Pennsylvania

Nebraska

Mississippi

Rhode Island

North Dakota

Virginia

New Jersey

Georgia

Kentucky

South Carolina

North Carolina

Tennessee

Oklahoma

Wyoming

 

Jerry’s Journal, by Jerry Hogan

The Margaret White I knew in Good Old Fulton High; the Margaret White whose teammates called “Muggsey” — and the Margaret White Beckwith that so many others in our community also got to knew and grew to love, was in that photo in my previous column of the junior class girls’ championship volleyball team that defeated the senior girls the winter of 1951.

Now I want to give the rest of the team their due.

As shown in the picture: Nancy Guilfoyle (deceased); Shirley Hamilton Chalifoux, (deceased); Carmelina Leotta Jones, still living in Fulton; Anne LeVea Grassi, also living here, and Phyllis Mezullo Desgrosielier (deceased).

Also Lena “Lee” Guiffrida Johnson, living in Texas; Margaret White Beckwith (deceased); and, Eleanor Guilfoyle Wilhelmi, living in Florida.

Absent from the picture was Norma Rogers Hokanson who lives in Mississippi and Clara Perwitz Dudley who is deceased.

Now I feel better, and I thank Anne LeVea Grassi for helping me out with it. I knew she had worked on their last class reunion (Class of 1952) and would be a good resource.

She also stirred up a sweet memory when she called Margaret  “Muggsey.”  Ah, yes… Muggsey…Marg Beckwith….such a sweetheart.

(Editor’s note: the caption under the volleyball team photo misidentified ‘Margaret White’ as “Margaret Smith.’ We regret the error)

Well, time and change have a habit of moving us mortals ever onward and Anne and I had a chance to catch up a little on our lives and soon we were on the subject of computers, and I found out that she had taught classes on computer word processing when she worked for General Electric, from which she retired in 1990.

No internet or email then, but word processors were great for typing and recording. You could cut and paste and fix spelling and grammar without whiteout or starting over.

Her students were mostly secretaries, Anne said, and she told her boss at GE that every secretary should learn how to use a computer. (We’ve come a long way since, haven’t we!)

Anne is looking into her family’s genealogy, which she describes as hard work and very intensive even with a computer, but worth it. She and her husband Mike have a grown daughter and a son and three grandchildren. I thank her for her input and nice chat.

Part 3 of North Sixth Street: It was two columns ago when I started this journey about my old neighborhood via a suggestion by a friend, Gerry Garbus. She and I go all the way back to 1953 when we were young mothers and she lived in her grandparents apartment on North Sixth and I lived up over my parents a couple of blocks away on Porter Street.

I must have walked North Sixth Street a thousand times in my young life: to Erie Street school, Fairgrieve Junior High and to the old high school on South Fourth; and to the State Theater and to the Oswego County Telephone Co. to go work.

I guess I was like the postman — neither rain, nor sleet or snow stopped me — I walked everywhere in all kinds of weather — just like most of us young people did back in the day.

Up North Sixth, past Manhattan Avenue, Freemont Street, Seward, Harrison, Ontario, Erie and Seneca I walked, all the way to Oneida Street, which was another major pathway of my childhood and young adulthood to the Dizzy Block, the bank, the post office, the movies, and to dear old Dr. Steinitz office.

It was a very nice, safe, neat and small compact world back then.

On my way I went by View’s grocery store, went over the little bridge over Waterhouse Creek and past Quirk’s Laundry; Keith Baldwin’s house, the Laws family homes, Paul Kitt’s house and Cusak’s printing press (they did my wedding invitations in 1951).

The North Sixth section of the 1950 City Directory is full of familiar names, from which  I’ve picked a few at random: Beginning at Oneida Street and going north to Porter Street: Fitzsimmons;  Boland; Procopio; Coleman; Perry; Davis; Heppell; Salisbury; Salmonson; Allen; Vescio; Patterson; Rudd.

And if you continue up Crow Hill there were the Jennings; Morrisons; Salisberrys; and the Crook and Rice families.

The Shortsleeves lived on Freemont Street. Their cousin Elizabeth Pollock called me recently to see if I knew them.

Yes, I knew Chuckie and Sally Shortsleeve, they were close to my age, but was surprised to learn there were five other, older children: Fred, Elizabeth, Evelyn (Tootie), Flora (Toy), and Neatrice.

Elizabeth Pollock (Mrs. Joe Pollock) was named after Elizabeth Shortsleeve Allen, her mother, and remembers the pretty yard that abutted Seward Street at her grandparents’ and the good times there, but said the house was very tiny and she didn’t know how her grandparents did it with so many children.

All the neighborhood kids got along, she said. Sally and the Ingersol girls were pals and she recalls sliding down the hill with them in the winter to Seward Street.

There was that little building that was Hare’s gas station, where Seward meets North Seventh Street, she said, and Clay Brewer’s family lived on North Seventh.

The Powerses on Freemont were related to the Brewers, she believed, and she remembered the Blodgetts and Truesdales in that neighborhood, too.

I thank Elizabeth for sharing her memories with us. I also need to give a huge thanks to Gerry Garbus for getting us started on this journey of memories, good humor and much laughter.

Gerry lives out on Phinney Road in a house that she and her husband Fred built themselves while they were still young and raising a family. “No mortgage,” she said.

Her three sons, Fred, Mike and Jim have built houses or have lived nearby on that property as well.

Her husband, Fred, who retired from Sealright, is gone now, but Gerry continues to stay active by visiting with family and friends in person or on the phone, and by keeping up with the news.

And, she loves to bake. What does she bake? Stuff to keep in the house for anyone who stops by, she says. Thanks, Gerry, it’s been fun.

Now here’s my caveat: Reader beware! I write for fun. I am not a historian, nor a reporter. I write from memory and from what others want to share. Sometimes I look things up; sometimes I mess things up.

I hope you have fun reading my stuff. Your comments, additions and corrections are always welcome.

You may contact me at 133 Tannery Lane, Fulton, phone 592-7580 or email JHogan808@aol.com.

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

Last week we observed a big day in the sports world – at least in the American sports world.

The Super Bowl was in town – in every town in the U.S.A. Personally, I am not always a front row fan of professional football. I consider myself an avid Syracuse University sports fan and like most Syracuse-area sports fans, I cheer loudly for them.

I don’t have a lot of interest in what happens in the country’s professional football arenas. I do keep in touch with the pro teams that include former SU players on their rosters – and I have a favorite NFL team.

Brown is a favorite color

I consider myself a follower and fan of the Cleveland Browns. My association with the Browns goes back to when I played street football with my friends, the Fero boys, on Wiman Avenue.

Their father always cheered for the Browns, so the boys were Browns fans, too.

By some kind of logic, I guess that left to me the responsibility among Wiman Avenue kids to support the New York Giants. So, when we lined up on the street in front of our homes, we were the “Browns” and the “Giants.”

The Cleveland Browns were among the winningest teams in those years, when some of their best players included Otto Graham, who led the Browns to 10 championship games and was considered by some to be the best NFL quarterback ever; Lou Groza, an outstanding member of the Browns’ front line for many years; running back Marion Motley; and pass catcher Dante Lavelli.

My personal loyalty to the Browns goes back to the Jim Brown days. When Jim Brown graduated from SU and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, I became a Browns fan.

(This could become really complicated for you to follow if I told you that in addition to Jim Brown, John Brown, another SU player of that era, also played for the Cleveland Browns and that the Cleveland team was organized by, coached by, and was named after Paul Brown).

That loyalty has been passed on to my oldest son, Craig and his children. Craig and my grandson, Cam, travel to Cleveland at least once a year to attend a Browns game. I have joined Craig in Cleveland and in Buffalo for Browns’ games.

My granddaughter Courtney and her husband, Chris, are Browns fans, and in one of the pictures I have received of great-grand Colton, he is decked out in a Browns jersey.

I have a couple of Browns shirts, and somewhere in my dresser I have a Browns “crying towel,” which is appropriate for current fans of my favorite team.

And, yes, it’s true – the Cleveland Browns, along with three other NFL teams – have never been to the Super Bowl.

Clickety-clack

For Your Information:

Edward R. Murrow typed on a ’46 Royal Quiet Deluxe; Richard Nixon’s typewriter was an L.C. Smith.

Roy Rogers, in a 1950s publicity shot, was typing on a Remington Noiseless Standard, early 40s. It was black and shiny, with Bakelite keys and a spool crank.

In a 1962 photo, Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby) was typing on an IBM Model B Electric. Dwight Eisenhower’s typewriter was a Royal Futura.

Walter Cronkite favored a Smith Corona ‘60s/’70s Electric Portable, and Bing Crosby had a Royal Portable (1920s).

Agatha Christie did some of her typing on a Remington Portable No. 2, and Truman Capote’s fingers pushed the keys on a Royal, Model HH.

Will Rogers was known to own a Remington Portable #3; Bette Davis used a Remington Noiseless Portable, while Joe DiMaggio typed on a flat-top maroon Corona Sterling.

I didn’t make it through the whole list of typists and their typewriters, but I didn’t find anyone listed as using an “L.C. Smith Silent,” manufactured by L.C. Smith & Corona Typewriter, Inc.

I have written about my faithful old typewriter friend and companion in this space before. Silent, but strong, L.C. guided me through many tense typing moments before his well-deserved retirement several years ago.

I should mention another high-standing relic from the same era as old “Smithy.”  A venerable Underwood typewriter stands watch on a desk top at the bottom of the basement steps.

A key is missing

When looking at old typewriters, if it is old enough – as my old L.C. Smith Silent surely is – you will notice that the key for number one is missing. It’s not because someone took it out, and it’s not because it is broken.

Here’s the explanation:

“The number one key was not implemented by design. Instead, the L key – l in lower case, was used in its lower case form as a letter or a number, because a lower case 1 looks like a one.

That allowed manufacturers to save some space in the overcrowded area where hammers were located.”

Now you know, and you won’t lose any more sleep wondering about it.

Wow!

What a fantastic SU win last Saturday – giving the team a 21-0 undefeated record.  Keep going Orange!

                                      . . . Roy Hodge   

Editor’s note: The Orangemen beat Notre Dame Monday, taking their record to 22-0. They take on Clemson Sunday, Feb. 9.

The Sportsman’s World — Of Flounder and Sheepheads

By Leon Archer

I was just this week talking with a friend in Florida about fishing.

I was interested specifically in the fishing in the Indian River Lagoon, because it had been so poor the past couple of years. He told me it was still nothing to get excited about in the Sebastian area, but it was a little better than last year.

Apparently some sea grass has started to grow here and there on the sand flats. He said it is a red grass, but it must be better than nothing. Grass makes all the difference in the river fishing.

I can’t begin to remember the number of times I’ve grumbled about the grass back when it was thick, and I had to keep removing it from my lures or bait. How I wish it were that way again.

Most of the grass then was some shade of pale green depending on the species and area it was growing in. There were patches of the red grass even then, but not any great amount of it.

When I fished in and around the grassy patches, I caught fish and grass. When I avoided grassy areas, I came up with less grass, but I also caught a lot fewer fish.

The reasons are simple. The grass acts as a nursery for small fish and crabs, providing food and cover. Most people would not believe the huge number of organisms that can inhabit a relatively small patch of grass, many of them are the microscopic creatures that baby fish and crabs capture for their early meals.

Just as the grass provides food and cover for the smaller inhabitants, at the same time it provides cover for larger fish who prey on the smaller, and so it goes right up the old food chain. But without that first link made of grass, the chain never forms.

I sure hope the grass makes a strong comeback. Even though I am not in Florida this winter, I certainly plan to be back there next winter, and I’d like to find the fishing better than I did the last two years.

My friend was telling me that it had been a good winter for sheepshead and flounder. They aren’t the kind of fish that prowl the grass beds.

The sheepies hang around docks and pilings. They seldom eat fish. Their teeth are made for nipping barnacles and small oysters off pilings. They are also fond of crabs, shrimp and sand fleas. They aren’t the easiest things to hook, being probably the most proficient bait stealers I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

They are well worth pursuing, because they rival snappers for their table qualities. They are yummy.

The flounder are occasionally found in the grass, but more likely, if they are there at all, they will lurk just outside the beds waiting for an unwary small fish to wander out to see what the big world outside the grass looks like.

Flounder are fast predators when they strike, and a small fish seldom gets a do-over. Flounder are more often found on the flats at the edge of channels and in inlets where the current constantly brings them small fish struggling to hold their place in the fast tide water.

Flounder are fun to fish for, and the greatest challenge is to keep from getting hung up on bottom as one fishes. Most fishing is done with mud minnows or finger mullet kept near the bottom with a sinker weighing two to four ounces.

The bait needs to move back with the current until it is right in front of the waiting flounder. If everything goes right, and one has a bit of luck, a tap and then a feeling of weight almost like being hung up, will be transmitted up the line to the rod. Sometimes it is a false signal and one is actually hung up on bottom, but when the rod responds with a throbbing bend when the hook is set, it becomes worth all the time and effort.

Flounder are wonderful table fare, and one that weighs seven or eight pounds will feed a family with some left over for a snack later. They are mild and do not have the delicate flavor of the sheepshead or snapper.

I have never caught a lot of southern flounder, but I have caught enough to appreciate everything about them. They are a great fish, and the lack of grass has not had as negative an effect on them as it has with fish like the spotted sea trout.

I have enjoyed my time in Washington with our grandson, but I sure have missed Florida. I haven’t missed the weather Fulton has been getting, however.

Stay warm. Spring is coming.

Bodley Bulletins, by Julia Ludington

The second half of the year has officially begun.

Students who have had 95 percent attendance, 95 percent on time to school, no major referrals, and no grades below a 70 percent will receive VIP status.

The official VIP celebration will take place this Friday. It is a great way to recognize those who have put their best foot forward this past quarter.

Honor Roll assemblies will take place next week for students who have earned either honor roll or high honor roll status. The assemblies will take place during Guided Study Hall, and students will receive a certificate and will have their picture taken.

The freshman class assembly will be next Monday, sophomores will be next Tuesday, juniors will be on Wednesday, and finally seniors will be on Thursday.

Students who will be playing a spring sport who have not yet received a physical can schedule one in the nurse’s office. Make sure to schedule one soon, spots fill up quickly.

Terracycling is still going on for the GRB Environmental Club, so if you have any empty shampoo or conditioner bottles, cream cheese tubs, applesauce containers, or yogurt containers, please bring them in!

 

Light In the Darkness

“I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”           Psalm 91:2”  

A number of years ago, I found myself asking whether life was essentially a pleasant journey with the occasional painful trial along the way,  or whether it was more of one long, arduous test with occasional moments of peace. 

I have since come to think that for the young, it often appears more like the former and for those of us who have seen the passing of more years, it seems more the latter.

This was and is in the context of a culture that still knows the remnants of blessing that came with the faith and faithfulness of so many who had gone before us.

In other cultures the perception might be much different.  But in every culture life has its trials; its tests to be endured. The way we approach them either leaves us in a weakened condition or stronger than ever.

One thing is certain, sooner or later everyone who trusts in Christ, will have that trust tested in a significant (and often painful) way. Each of us is a little different in this respect and something thing that severely tests one person is but a hiccup for another.

Even in areas where the test would be severe for any believer, such as the loss of a child, a spouse, a serious accident with permanent consequences, one whose faith is strong may seem to be tested for only a short time while the for another, whose faith is not as strong, may struggle for a long time before coming out the other side.

But one thing of which we can be certain is that our faith will be tested.

Our Lord told His people in Ezekiel  21,  “Testing will surely come.”

There is purpose behind the testing of our faith, of course. God is not a precocious, whimsical God who delights his fancy at our expense and James explains that purpose.

He writes, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (Chapter one)

We all know that in the raising of children, the ultimate goal is for them to reach adulthood as mature individuals prepared to face life’s trials and demands.

It is much the same in our spiritual lives. When we are born again, we are born into a spiritual world to which we had been dead. At that point Paul says, we are babes in Christ.

The Lord’s purpose for that new life is that we grow into mature, right-thinking adults; full of faith and able to trust Him in all areas of thought and life.

It is to this end, James says, that He allows us to be tested, that our endurance may be fully developed, so that we become perfect and complete in Him… needing nothing else.”

Can you say with the psalmist, “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”

 

Pastor David M. Grey

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church