"Be not far from me, for trouble is near..." (Psalm 22:11). We all have a light bulb that comes on at certain times. I call it an "a-ha moment" when we catch onto something or figure something out.
When my dad emerged from the back of the sanctuary, bent over in laughter, only two light bulbs came on. My brother, Mark, knew instantly that my dad was the "church ghost." My light came on just a few seconds after Mark's. Andy's light bulb needed replacing.
He didn't understand. He still thought there was a ghost in the church. When my dad found out that Andy was still in the dark, he continued with his evil ways.
Dad recorded his ghost voice onto a tape recorder. "Who-o-o-o's in my chur-r-r-rch?" repeated over and over for fifteen minutes on that recorder. Dad placed the tape recorder in a classroom at the end of a hall in the church.
My sinister dad then gathered up the three ghostbusters and said, "Boys, come with me back to the church. I want to prove to you that there are no ghosts."
Maybe it was the same blood running through our veins, but Mark and I knew Dad was up to something. We played along. Like father, like sons...we wanted to see Andy's "scaredy-cat" face again.
We trekked across the field back to the church. Dad led the way. Mark and I were side by side. Andy was in our back pockets. Oh, and my sister was poised at the end of the hall, waiting to turn the tape player on when she heard us enter the building.
Dad gathered us together in the foyer and held his finger up to his lips, "Ssshhhhhh...listen." With Stephen King-ish timing, the voice on the recorder began moaning down the hall. Mark and I smiled, then acted afraid. (Okay, so I was fifty/fifty on the fear scale).
Andy camouflaged himself by turning as white as the walls, and he lunged forward with a death grip on the back of my dad's jeans. The boy was scared. The boy was bordering on permanent trauma.
The fear in Andy's face frightened my dad. The joke had gone too far. Dad smiled and said to Andy, "It's okay. It's just a tape recorder with my voice on it." Andy didn't blink.
Dad decided the best thing to do would be to show Andy the tape recorder. Bad idea. When Dad took a step toward the ghost voice, Andy's grip got tighter and his face turned whiter. They both let out a scream.
Andy screamed, "No, Brother Crisp! Nooooooo!"
Dad screamed because Andy had two fistfuls of leg hair. After several minutes of verbal persuasion that it was all just a hoax, Andy's light bulb flickered a little. Eventually, it came on full bright and Andy released his grip. The blood returned to his face and to my dad's legs.
Andy survived the ordeal and still loves to hear my dad tell the story. The picture of Andy firmly attached to my dad's legs is still vivid in my mind. "Be not far from me, for trouble is near..." was fulfilled that day on a human level.
Trouble is always near. It never moves to Siberia. It's always right next door, in the next lane, around the next curve, behind the next curtain, under the next step, or over the next horizon.
It's a good idea not to get too far from God. Fear is not the only reason we should want to stay near God. If we always did what we should, things might be different. But a little healthy fear can be a good thing.
Right at home with my finger in God's belt loop,