The Ant and the Book Signing
Go ahead and call me an idiot. It’s okay. I’m not offended because more and more the title seems to fit.
Do you want to hear why I’m giving you permission to do that? Last week, I spoke at Summit, Abilene Christian University’s Bible Lectureship, where they sponsor a variety of classes covering a large span of current topics. They host Bible teachers, authors, musicians, and community leaders who challenge Christians to live their calling in Christ, to endeavor to help the oppressed by halting sex trafficking, buying fair trade products, and remaining active in one’s community by caring for widows, orphans, and others who need a hand up. Students and thousands of visitors to the campus attend the sessions.
In that setting, my publisher had scheduled several book signings for me. I have a system for signing books and it usually works. With three books published, I write a particular message for each of those books and underneath I sign my name. If I know the person, I write a more personal message. At one of those venues, a woman I’ve never met wanted me to sign her book. If asked to sign that particular book, I usually write, “Be a blessing, Page 106, Proverbs 17:17” and then I sign my name. Did I say I have a system and it normally works?
However, my plan didn’t work this past week when I was a few numbers off in my scripture reference. Heaven only knows who the book-buyer-woman was, and I do sincerely wish I could apologize for the scripture reference I accidentally wrote. That page number that I refer to when signing is to direct the reader to a story or recipe that I think is one of the better ones within the book. The story on page 106 is the one when close-friend Doris took up an offer of free turnip greens issued to both of us. Knowing I was very busy and couldn’t wash, drain, and de-sand them, she later surprised me with quarts and quarts of frozen ones. What a dedicated friend!
I like that friendship story, and most people can relate to it. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times.” I don’t write out the actual words, just the numbers. It’s a general scripture, which could apply to many people and situations.
At the exact moment I signed the woman’s book, the chosen Bible chapter and verse just wouldn’t surface in my mind. After a few seconds of delay, finally, my brain told me that the scripture reference that I usually write is Proverbs 6:6. The woman smiled happily, taking her signed book and moving on to the checkout line, and I greeted the next person.
Later when the hubbub died down, I easily remembered that I’d written Proverbs 6:6 in the woman’s book. My brain also reminded me -- far too late -- that I usually write Proverbs 17:17. To my horror, I wondered what words of wisdom were in Proverbs 6:6. I knew that somewhere in chapters 3 to 7 were some plain-talk descriptions about an adulteress. Naturally, all of the sudden my brain functions perfectly, reminding me of such descriptive phrases as, “Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.” Others quickly pop into my mind about the “immoral woman,” or the “adulteress who preys upon your very life,” or how a “prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread.”
Why did my brain that’s been with me all these years desert me when most needed during the signing? When I realized just how BIG my mistake might be, worry began to gnaw at my peace. Wondering what message is in Proverbs 6:6, I voiced my concerns to my traveling companion and sister, Sherry.
“I think I’ve done something really stupid,” I said to her. I explained the number foul up and my fear that I might have called a Christian book buyer a trollop.
My trusty sister whips out her Bible and says, “Why wait to find out. I’ll just see what it says.” She locates the verse, and I can see she’s reading silently to herself. She giggles and asks, “Are you sure those are the numbers you wrote.” I nod my head. “You’ll either hate yourself or think it’s funny.”
I audibly groaned. Sister Sherry read aloud Proverbs 6:6, “Go to the ant, you sluggard. Consider its ways and be wise!”
“Oh, good grief,” I said. “Some poor woman is walking around wondering why on earth I judged her a sluggard!” Then I remember it could have been worse. I could have tagged her as a loose woman who drags her “prey down to the grave.” Thank you, Lord, for small ant-sized favors. This is a sweeping apology to that unnamed woman. In addition, I know she’s not the first I’ve offended with written words and she’s probably not the last, I apologize for any of my misspoken words or written words -- a bunch, I’ve no doubt.
A sense of humor, a willingness to confess, and a willingness to forgive – life’s too short to sweat the fumbles. Next time the ball’s up in the air and my brain is disengaged, I just hope to pass along a smile and maybe a signature alone. And that will just have to do.
Index Card Verse for Week 39: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love” (Galatians 5:6).
You may contact Cathy at www.cathymessecar.com