As we wrap up this series, don’t expect any grand revelations. Today’s lesson is one from childhood which has been seasoned by experience. Maybe that’s a topic for another time, how seeds planted in spring are harvested in later seasons.
Two ladies recently had a minor collision in my mother’s driveway. One was backing up as the other was pulling in. Their accident reminded me of something my father told me as a teenager or perhaps earlier. He said, “Don’t ever back up if you can go forward.”
Daddy’s point was that we don’t know what’s behind us. He encouraged us to park so we didn’t have to use reverse when possible. That’s not always an option, but a somber moment from youth still reminds me of what can happen.
Bags of peanut seeds were stacked high in the bed of Daddy’s pickup for the next day’s planting. His truck was parked under the shelter to keep them dry overnight. When I slid under the steering wheel the following morning, I had no idea our chihuahua was nearby.
Granddaddy Hill had given Skip to me when I was in the fourth grade. Chihuahuas were thought by some to help with asthma, a problem which severely affected me at times. That’s why my grandfather paid fifty dollars, a lot of money in 1960, for an unproven remedy.
Medical science probably doesn’t support the reputed health benefits of those little dogs. Rumors of healing may have come from an innovative chihuahua salesman. All I know is I stopped having asthmatic episodes after Skip came. Whether he deserves any credit I can’t say. Either way it was a relief from the panicky feeling of struggling to breathe.
Most challenges have a silver lining and I guess asthma did for me. Dr. Ted Coleman in Hawkinsville made a wry comment that got my attention. He said, “Neil, if you want to keep having trouble getting your breath, you should take up smoking.” That convinced me not to ride beside The Marlboro Man.
Skip was twice as big as most chihuahuas, so probably came from mixed parentage. He lived inside for a few months, until unacceptable bathroom habits led to his ouster. We knew when he’d been naughty because he stayed out of sight.
Like Adam and Eve, Skip tried to hide, except he used furniture as his cover. Thankfully the outdoor lifestyle suited him fine. He got along great with Trixie, a collie mix who was smarter than Lassie. Rather than going for help, Trixie never let us fall into a well. A heat lamp warmed their cozy bed in winter.
There’s an old saying that could be applied to Skip. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight that matters. It’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Chihuahuas are known for bravado and Skip had more than his share. He was friendly toward people but didn’t cater to canines he thought were trespassing.
A neighbor’s dog, belonging to the Homer Todd family, was trotting by our house one day minding its own business. Although the road was public, Skip’s domain extended beyond our lawn. He ran toward that much bigger dog, which I nervously assumed would stand its ground. The dog fled instead with Skip chasing after.
If Skip had caught him, it would not have ended well for the home team. I’m not sure if going after a bigger dog is an example of courage or foolishness. Skip’s fearless attitude was admirable, but I don’t think he realized we can catch things that won’t turn us loose.
The truck was barely moving, still under the shelter when I heard Skip’s yelp. It was a heartbreaking scene, but hard lessons can at least help prevent future mistakes.
Daddy’s comment years ago was made for safety reasons and nothing more. The principle, however, can be applied to many areas, including spiritual matters. The direction we’re heading is a good way to assess our daily walks of faith. Backsliding often affects more than the driver and leads to unintended casualties.
Sometimes I ignore what I know is best, even with things that are important. But the seeds my father planted in springtime are better appreciated with each passing season.
I don’t have any grand revelations, just simple advice from a wise and godly man. I’m glad I can still hear my father’s voice. “Don’t ever back up when you can go forward.”