I was born during a period of history when many World War I veterans were still alive. Of all those old men, the one that sticks out was a veteran named Manuel “Curt” Green.
Curt Green was one of those country men who had never been anywhere, nor desired to, until World War I broke out. He traveled across, as he called it, “The Big Pond” to France in the “Great War” to end all wars.
After the war ended, he returned to Dry Creek and probably never traveled over a hundred miles from home for the rest of his life.
Growing up, every time I would see Curt Green he was invariably driving his old Ford tractor, pulling a homemade trailer full of dogs. I would see him along the highway or at Ryan Harper’s store. The dogs, usually five or six of them, would be yapping, barking, and having the time of their lives. (In Dry Creek, the term “treated like a dog” doesn’t always represent a bad life. I’ve seen plenty of dogs that were treated just like one of the family.)
On this old beat up tractor he never traveled much over ten miles per hour. It was fine sport for David Cole and me to hide our bicycles under a bridge and wait for him to pass. Then we’d pedal furiously and pass him up. He’d chew us out, but it was too much fun not to do again.
Later in life, maybe because of a pension or veteran’s benefit, Curt Green bought a new vehicle. It was a light green 1969 Datsun truck. This was the first of the small pickup trucks. These trucks were made fun of by country men, both young and old as “made out of Japanese tin cans.” Little did we know that these foreign vehicles would one day be the best made and most expensive available on the market. (Datsun is the company that later became Nissan.)
Curt Green’s truck had a five speed manual transmission, but I never saw him get out of second gear. He was comfortable with going the same speed he’d always gone on his tractor.
He still hauled his dogs, only now they rode in the truck bed. We still passed him up on our bicycles, except that we felt like it was more of a feat due to his mode of travel being a truck rather than a tractor.
So in the remaining years of his driving life, Curt Green puttered along in his truck… never getting out of second gear when he had five… and never topping over twenty miles per hour in a truck that could go ninety.
As I think about Curt Green and his truck, I believe there’s a life application – As followers of Jesus we have been given a promise of power. Power to live victoriously, power to overcome as He overcomes through us. This is so clearly presented in John 15 where Jesus tells His followers:
“Without me, you can do nothing.”
Now we can do things, even plenty of good things, in our own power. But to do things that change lives and affect our eternity, it must be God’s power working in us, and through us.
As Christians, our job is simply to be a conduit for the “Living Water.” Our job as a pipeline for carrying God’s gospel is clear.
Once again, I must go back to the Appalachian Trail for an example. In the 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine, there is a famous shelter called Rainbow Springs. It is well known for its location, swimming area, due to it being featured in a National Geographic article from 1987.
As we approached the shelter, we had to walk across a long log over the stream. It was late evening and a campfire was already burning while a whole host of hikers were already there cooking supper, rubbing their sore feet, and comparing notes on the day’s hike. It reminded me of scenes from the hobo jungles of the Great Depression years.
Of all the sights and sounds, I remember from my overnight stay at Rainbow Springs, one image stands out. Adjacent to the shelter was a large beech/birch tree. Into the bark and wood, someone had carved out a neat rectangle and placed an electrical socket. It just fit right into the tree and looked as if it was ready for use. One bearded hiker even commented, “If I’d known that was here, I would have brought my electric razor!”
What made the electrical socket such a neat conversation piece was the fact that we were many, many miles from any road, much less any electrical power. In fact, the only way in and out of this remote area was by this trail, or by the float planes that landed daily on the nearby beautiful large lakes of central Maine.
You see, an electrical socket is a great thing to have, but it is useless if it is not connected to a power source.
If we really want to be a difference maker, and that is why God has placed us here, we must be plugged into the source – our Lord Jesus.
Whether it’s like the Rainbow Springs electrical socket – it looks good but is useless… or like Curt Green’s Datsun truck – plenty of available five-speed, tire spinning power, but never used even close to its potential, we must be sure to use the available resources ready for us..
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19