G.B. Miller had only finished third grade. Like a lot of men from his era, school had to end when the needs of his family became paramount. Yet that did not mean G.B. was uneducated. He read prolifically and studied the Bible with a thirst for knowledge that would put many of us to shame.
“Knowledge puffs up” says God’s Word. G.B.’s pursuit of knowledge was quite purposeful. He wasn’t learning to impress people but to serve people. He wanted to understand the world so that he could effectively minister to the people of the bayou country of Louisiana. As a result, G.B. was a man of great wisdom. And his wisdom was particularly adept at seeing how the people around him lived and how he might best encourage them.
One noon time, I was sitting with my family, G.B. and his diminutive bundle of energy spouse, Evelyn. We were sitting down to one of those wonderful “southern cookin'” meals. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, hot rolls, blackeyed peas and plenty of cold, refreshing sweet tea.
A young man came to the door. A book salesman. Many a young college student crisscrossed the South in teams to earn tuition money by selling books and Bibles. Children’s books were this boy’s product. He had barely started his pitch when Brother Miller stopped him. “Son, I know that you need to sell books but you don’t need to waste time. I have no grandchildren in need of those books and I am well past my childhood.”
The young man nodded quietly in agreement and started to turn away from the door heading for another house when G.B. stopped him. “You’re probably not going to make much money up that road today, but I can still help you.” The boy perked up and Brother Miller offered, “I can’t help you sell your books but I know they don’t pay you much if you don’t sell anything and I’ll bet you’re hungry.” Pointing towards his table, he said, “Sit down and join us for lunch, please.”
And so that young man instead of spending a fruitless hour selling books to a man who didn’t need them received physical nourishment. He also received G.B.’S attention as my friend coached him on sales (after all, G.B. was a preacher and in those days preachers were salesmen of a different sort). He went away well fed, physically refreshed, and motivated to work hard.
So often since then I have found myself in a situation where I was ready to step away from someone knowing I couldn’t give them what they were asking for. And then the Holy Spirit slows me down and asks, “But what do they need that you can give?” And so often I have found that a little attention and informed encouragement is what they needed anyway on the dusty roads of life. I have men liked G.B. to thank for it.
(C) 2010 by Stephen L Dunn
This post is a continuation of one published in EASTER PEOPLE on July 24, 2010. Check the archives.