A pair of Levi’s blue jeans cost $5.00, Penney’s Ranchcraft jeans were $3.00, PF Flyers were $6.95, Chuck Taylor’s and Jack Purcell’s were $10.00 and $15.00 respectively. I wore Ranchcraft jeans and PF Flyers. Jim Cain’s sporting goods was the only store of its kind in town and he held a good selection of BB guns, there was a Daisy model that really caught my eye, it had a blue steel barrel and sold for $22.00. I was 10 years old and made 75 cents an hour working cattle on Saturdays at the San Jacinto Livestock Auction. My dad and I were downtown one day when I coaxed him into the store to show him the BB gun. I wanted it. He asked me how much I had saved up, I told him $2.25, he said, you’re almost there, that’s when I first discovered Dad math. Dads always look at the process with their sons, sons always look at the present. I didn’t understand how $22.00 minus $2.25 which equalled $19.75 was “almost there”; but my dad did. the fact is, I don’t even remember if I knew that much arithmetic to begin with, I just knew I was a long way off.
I worked a bunch of Saturdays to earn that money and one day my dad asked me if I had enough saved up to buy that rifle. I checked my cigar box bank in my bedroom and I had just enough. He said we’d take a ride down to Jim Cain’s in the afternoon and I could buy it. I was so anxious to go, just anticipating how many sparrows I could shoot before nightfall was dominating every thought. When we finally walked in the store, my Dad asked Jim to pull that blue steel Daisy off the rack so we could look at it, it was sweet! Dad said you better get a big box of BB’s. I went to the rack knowing just where they were when it dawned on me, “I didn’t have enough money to buy the gun and the BB’s. I had an awful feeling in my gut, BB’s were 50 cents and the big box was $1.75. It was gonna take everything I’d earned just to buy the gun, I wouldn’t be able to shoot it for another week. I looked over at my Dad and Jim and they were both just grinning. My Dad said bring that big box over here, then he told Jim to ring it up. When my Dad pulled out his wallet and paid the bill, I was so surprised.
My Dad said how much you got in your pocket, I told him 22 bucks. He said hand it over, so I did. Standing there right in front of Jim he said, “you worked hard for this money, I’m proud of you, the BB’s are on me”, Jim said, “Take good care of that gun” and handed me a small can of oil to baby it with. Walking out of that store I could have killed a bear, a lion or stormed the guns of Navarone. I was walking on clouds and well armed. How many times must a Dad affirm a son before he understands it’s about the process?
“Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that you came from God.”. Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?”
I look back on this story much differently now, I think at the time, I just wanted to get home and find a sparrow sitting unprotected in one of the eucalyptus trees in our yard. Now, I read the 17th chapter of John and understand how frustrated my Dad was with me, as Jesus was with His disciples, with process over present circumstances. I remember that I was so proud walking out of Jim Cain’s that day, I’m not sure I was as thankful as I should have been for the lesson, the gift and the affirmation. Like the saying goes: “Life doesn’t come with instructions, that’s why we need Dads”. Someone to lead us through our youth and our inexperience, if need be to shove us forward, patiently, into the process.
“this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent – Jesus Christ”
It was a process for the disciples, so why should we believe it is going to be something less for us? We need to be reminded “we’re almost there”. Ain’t it so.