Coffee Stains: Rooting for My RootsAuthor: David Porter
Recently, I decided that the time had come to reclaim my Southern-boy roots.
I left the USA in 1981 to work, first in Luxembourg, then in France. I’ve spent 21 of the 27 years since 1981 in Europe. I’ve had to make some changes, another language (actually two others in Luxembourg), different foods, friends, missing family, withdrawal from American sports (it’s better with internet), different worship style in church and a thousand other little things. Sometimes you have to make so many changes you wonder who you are anymore. So, I thought it would be good to get back to my roots.
‘You won’t be able to eat French cheese anymore, if you’re a Southern boy,’ my practical wife informed me. She’s right. Any self-respecting Southern boy would wrinkle his nose and make a wise crack about the goat cheese that I love to eat with a good bagette. ‘I’ll become a modified Southern boy, then,’ I said. After all, we don’t want to get too radical. So, how do I regain my roots? Grow a Dr Pepper belly? I’ve already got a good start on that (from eating French cheese, I suspect). Oh yeah! I could put on my ball cap when I walk through the village. I’m not sure that would identify my roots, though. The mayor himself sometimes wears a cap but it’s not a Southern boy ball cap. You have to be careful with ball caps because an ugly, flat one makes you look like a doofus. Even a good-looking one will make you look 50-65 IQ points dimmer, if you don’t know how to shape it and wear it. Our mayor’s hat isn’t standard but he’s so nice he makes up for it. He the exception to the rule. After my declaration to my wife, I decided to sing with my wife in the service that morning. She had the soundtrack of an old Southern-gospel hymn, ‘Heaven’s Jubilee’ in English with guitars twanging in the background. It brought the house down, though I don’t know if they thought it was good, or funny. I thought I was going to have to bang on the pulpit to get them back in order. I felt like Ben Speer (much younger version).
Who Are You?
I don’t think my singing career is going very far though. My haircut is too normal. Identity. None of us is really what we were or what we will be. Even if we live in the house where we were born, as an elderly friend of ours did for more than 80 years, we’re not what we were 40 years ago. Yet, something in man longs to understand what he is and who he is. Sometimes we even confuse our culture with who we are. Most people are convinced that their people’s way of organizing and considering the world is the best of all. I wonder if Paul the apostle didn’t pose the, ‘Who am I?’ question as he wandered far from his ancestors and their culture as he preached the gospel. Actually Paul seemed to have it together. Listen:
” But by the grace of God I am what I am… ” (1 Cor. 15:10, NIV)
” Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life, even though invisible to spectators, is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too, the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. (Col. 3:3, 4)
” According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1: 20, 21)
The key is finding your identity in Christ, but what does that mean in a practical everyday way? I’d love to hear your ideas on that. Tell me what you think in means to find your identity in Christ … in a concrete way. I’ll put your responses in Coffee Stains next week.
There are many people who want to lead, but they don’t want to follow. No one is qualified to lead who has not first been a follower. Likewise the greatness or effectiveness of a leader is directly related to their experience as and attitude about being a follower. Roger Lewis