I was a Boy Scout for a year or so when I was a child. Dad, at age 16, had reached the highest rank, Eagle Scout, and had become assistant Scoutmaster at age 17. Therefore, he was disappointed when I withdrew. When dad reminded me that I was not a Boy Scout, but only a Cub Scout, it didn't bother me, because down deep inside I felt like a Boy Scout.
Although I didn't stay with them long, I still remember the Boy Scout oath: "On my honor, I will do my best, To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."
The motto is: Be Prepared.
We were to be prepared in body by making ourselves strong and active and able to do the right thing at the right moment.
We were to be prepared in mind by disciplining ourselves to obey our proper authorities and being ready for emergencies by having thought out beforehand what might be required of us.
We were to be prepared in spirit by obeying God. Of course, that meant we needed to read the Bible.
The first time I ever went fishing was at a Boy Scout campout. I caught a smallmouth bass, cleaned it, cooked it and ate it, and I've loved to fish ever since. When the scoutmaster asked me, a 7-year-old, how I learned to cook, I replied, "I watch my mommy cook, and that's how I know how." He replied, "Well, I suppose your mother is helping you to be prepared in life. Good job."
I've merged that brief Boy Scout training with my Christian upbringing, because they went hand-in-hand. The concept of being prepared became my foundation for living. Did I ever make mistakes? Of course. Did I ever lie to my parents? Ashamedly, yes. Was I ever disrespectful to authorities? Yes. Was I ever mean to my siblings? Sadly, yes. I admit that I had a lot of growing up to do. But as I grew up, I gradually learned how to apply that early training to my life.
Now, decades later, I still endeavor to be prepared for whatever is required of me, and the Lord guides me even when I am not aware of it. Here are two examples.
In the summer of 1998, an acquaintance asked me, "Mr. Linzey, why are you always so happy?"
I was about to give her a light-hearted reply when she said, "I REALLY need to know."
Then I heard in my mind, "You have 30 seconds." I recognized that as the prompting of the Lord, so I took it seriously. In the next half minute, I shared my faith in Jesus Christ and how Jesus wanted to be part of this woman's life, too. And if she would learn to listen and obey the Lord, He would help her through her present difficulties. I never heard from her again, but the results are in God's hands.
The second example happened today.
Carol and I were driving north on Highway 395 east of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We were discussing whether we should cross the Sierras on highways 120, 108, or on 4. We learned that 120 wasn't opened for traffic and, for whatever reason, we decided to travel on Highway 4.
As we began the trek on that serpentine layer of asphalt, we started thinking we had made the wrong decision, but we stuck with it. About an hour later we stopped to look at the beautiful panorama a mile lower and 5 to 35 miles distant. It was amazing!
Then as a dog came near me, its owner called him. The man and I struck up a conversation and I learned his name is Doyle. As I began to put some pieces of his story together, I realized we had NOT taken the wrong road. God knew that Doyle was on Highway 4, he needed encouraging and counseling, and God prompted us to choose 4 because I was prepared and ready to share truth and life.
Those encounters infuse joy into my soul because I know I am honoring the Lord and helping people.
For the Lord to use us, we need to be mentally awake, live morally according to Holy Scriptures, and be prepared to help others as the situations arise.
Are you prepared?
-- S. Eugene Linzey is the author of 'Charter of the Christian Faith.' Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his website at www.genelinzey.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.