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Perfect Love

BCOSSMarch15

Current meeting of South Sudanese leaders, wives, fellow workers and team from Southeastern Seminary.

A word from Curt

Today, 9000 miles from our part of Africa,  DeDe’s father, Herbert Terry, will be buried in his beloved Harrisonburg, Louisiana.

When we returned to Uganda two months ago,  Mr. Herbert told us, “You go on over there and finish the work God has given you.  Don’t worry about me.”

DeDe has chosen to remain in that work.  We are in the midst of a conference with two dozen South Sudanese pastors and their wives.

My therapy for grief (as well as life therapy) is to write about it.

I’m sharing Mr. Terry’s favorite story from my books.  It’s from our first book, Stories from the Creekbank.  

Enjoy.

Stories-From-The-Creekbank-Cover

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear . . .

Written in 1999.

 

 

“Perfect love casts out fear.”

I John 4:18

“I thought I was going to have to give my name, rank, and serial number to get back in.”

-Herbert Terry

1:30 AM.

It’s early morning on July the 5th.

My ten-year-old son, Terry, and I are returning from a late night all-star baseball game.

The game featured a three-hour rain delay.

Terry’s grandparents, Herbert and Juanita Terry, came to see the game. As the delay dragged on, DeDe took them home to Dry Creek.

This game, which began on July 4th, ended seven hours later with the final fireworks at midnight in the skies over DeQuincy, Louisiana.

Terry quickly fell asleep on the one-hour drive home.

I’m alone with my thoughts thinking about how the game of baseball has bonded us as a family. I yawn and remember how early the first day of camp will come in just a few hours.

Turning in my Dry Creek driveway, reflected light catches my headlights. Five teens on bicycles are sitting in my driveway.

My first thought is that these are curfew-breaking camp staffers. I roll down my window to scold them, “Hey what are you guys doing out at this time of the night?”

They turn toward me. I don’t know any of them. They’re not from Camp or our community. They give me an ominous look and slowly pedal off.

I drive to the house wondering who these night riders are and what they’re up to at this late hour.

I securely lock the garage door.

Terry runs bath water to wash off the DeQuincy mud.

I pour a glass of milk, pilfer some cookies, and unfold the newspaper.

The dogs bark outside. I get the eerie feeling that the night riders are still out there.

Suddenly, I hear the front door swing open.

A chill goes up my spine as I expect one of those night riders to appear in the hallway.

I screw up my courage and hurry to the door. It’s slightly ajar. I see nothing in the blackness outside.

Quickly I slam it shut, turn the deadbolt, and latch the chain.

Wearily, I return to my chair.

An old bluegrass song runs through my mind,

It’s only the wind; children are not at the door.

It’s only the wind, wind precious wind, nothing more.

 

Just as I pick up the newspaper, a loud knock resounds off the front door.

A muffled voice from outside: “Let me in.”

“Who’s out there?”

A voice responds, “Let me in.”

Shakily, I answer, “Who are you?”

“It’s Herbert. Open the door. You’ve locked me out!”

I unfasten the locks to find my father-in-law standing there in his boxer shorts.

He passes by without a word, sadly shaking his head before disappearing into his bedroom.

I stand in the hallway putting it all together;

My father-in-law, Mr. Herbert, had gotten up to use the bathroom.

He found the bathroom occupied by Terry and his soaking after game bath.

Mr. Herbert, being a rural man, simply went to Plan B.

He stepped out onto the front porch to take care of business.

That’s when I heard the door open and locked him out.

 

I finished my milk and cookies and went to bed. It’s after two am but I woke DeDe up to relate the story of her Daddy and the door.

I left for work early the next morning, long before my father in law, Herbert Terry, arose. Luckily,, I didn’t see him that day.

My brother-in-law Greg said his dad told him, “If you go down there, be careful. I thought I was going to have to give my name, rank, and serial number for Curt to let me back in the house.”

 

 

My goal is always to find a spiritual meaning in life’s events. You’re probably thinking: “He’s going to have to stretch it to find anything spiritual on this tale.”

But the next day it came to me: I had acted out of fear from the minute I saw the night riders in my drive.

The late hour, my tiredness, and these strange faces combined to put me on the defensive.

The result was locking out my poor old father-in-law.

I wonder how many times I’ve let fear lock others out of my life.

How much love have I missed.

How many friendships and opportunities have I missed because of that dangerous emotion called fear?

God, help me to be a risk taker in my relationships.

To not fear giving of myself, letting myself be vulnerable

. . . not afraid to show my human side.

Don’t let me allow my fears, prejudices, and presumptions to lock others out. . .

Most of all, help me open the door of my heart for You to shape and mold me.

In Your name.

Amen.

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About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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