When I was a kid my uncle Paul would sometimes go on our camping trips to Arkansas with us. Paul often seemed more like a cousin or a brother than an uncle. He’s only seven years older than I am. Paul was always fun to have around, mainly because he was a little wild and reckless. You almost knew that if Paul was around he or someone was going to get hurt doing something crazy. As I write this all these memories of Paul come to mind and all of them involve someone getting hurt.
One year our trip to Arkansas consisted of my grandparents, my brother Jon, Paul and me. Jon and I were maybe nine or ten years old which meant Paul would have been sixteen or seventeen. This also meant he had been dipping snuff for about half his life and was pretty well addicted to it. Being as dependent on the stuff as he was you’d have thought he would have brought enough on our camping trip to make sure it lasted the week especially since the nearest store was about an hour away and the prices were always at least double what they were in town. Well, Paul didn’t bring a weeks worth of snuff and he had been “nursing” the single can he had.
Granddaddy drove an old white single cab Datsun truck. The cab held him and my grandmother. My brothers and uncles and any dogs we brought always rode in the bed. We usually put the tailgate down and sat with our legs dangling and our feet dragging the rock and dirt road. Granddaddy would coast down the winding roads and sometimes reach phenomenal speeds like 30 mph. This seems really fast when you’re sitting on a tailgate on a dirt road and you can see hundreds of feet down the side of the mountain.
During our ill fated trip, on which Paul only brought one can of snuff, we were headed down the mountain and Jon, Paul and I were dangling our feet, as usual, from the tailgate of the truck. Paul decided it was a good time for a dip so he reached into his pocket to get his can of snuff … then the truck hit a bump. The can flew (in slow motion of course) from Paul’s hand, landed on the road and rolled a few feet and stopped. Without thinking Paul jumped from the truck, rolled a few times himself, got up with snuff can in hand and began running after us. Jon and I, for some reason, thought this was one of the funniest things we’d ever seen: especially now that Paul was at a full sprint chasing us down hill. We laughed and laughed until we cried. I don’t think I had ever laughed so hard in my life. Paul was yelling for us to stop. Granddaddy was oblivious. He was watching in front of us and never thought to look back. We couldn’t stop laughing long enough to crawl to the cab and tell Granddaddy to stop. Paul finally gave up after about a third of a mile and he couldn’t breathe. Jon or I finally caught our breath and managed to get Granddaddy’s attention to stop. We giggled a lot the rest of the day: Jon and I, not Paul.
There’s a lesson to be learned in this story (I know you were hoping there was): so many of us jump in head first and go after things that we know aren’t good for us. Paul didn’t even think before he jumped off the back of the truck for his snuff. He could have been seriously hurt or even killed. I know we think, “I’d never do something that foolish” but everyday smart, moral, rational people go chasing after “things” that could ruin their lives or even kill them. It could be a relationship with someone from whom we should stay far away. Or an activity we know is not good for us physically or spiritually. What are you chasing that you need to leave laying in the road? Ask God for His help in staying in the truck.