"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven."
King Solomon wrote those words around 935 B.C. Pete Seegar covered the song almost 3,000 years later, in 1959, and The Byrds took it to No. 1 six years after that. I am pretty sure the "turn, turn, turn" part was all Seegar, because I couldn't find it in any of the translations of the Bible we use at our house.
"To everything there is a season." Those of us who follow the liturgical calendar of the Christian church find ourselves right in the middle of the season of Lent this week -- that 40-day period of fasting, reflection and self-denial that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Eve. Christians of many denominations follow the practice of giving up some self-serving indulgence during this period. I think the idea is that the sacrifice will remind us of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf and help us to draw closer to God.
Who wouldn't want to grow closer to God?
When I was a child, growing up at Julia A. Porter United Methodist Church, I didn't know a lot of theology but I knew that every day my mama would leave a dime on the kitchen table for me when she left for work in the mill and I could spend that dime at the drug store after school. There was a lot you could buy with a dime. I could get a cherry Coke and a bag of chips or a lemon sour and a pack of crackers, or a chocolate ice cream cone and five pieces of penny candy. Spending that dime was a tough decision.
Times have changed. My daughter, Jamie, is a pharmacist and I can't buy anything in her store for 10 cents.
During Lent, I didn't have to make that decision, because every year we were given a Lenten Folder on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and during that 40 day period -- not counting Sundays, when I didn't get a dime anyway -- I was expected to put my dime in my folder and do without my ice cream or Coca-Cola. I didn't know why exactly, but I knew that on Easter Sunday, when we all marched up to the front of the church to place our Lenten Folders on the altar, I felt proud about my sacrifice.
Now I told you all of that, believe it or not, to tell you this. This past Ash Wednesday I was walking in high cotton. I was invited to stand behind the pulpit at Conyers First United Methodist Church and deliver the Ash Wednesday message. Now that's not just any pulpit, you see. That is the pulpit from which Dr. John Beyers usually preaches.
Now understand this. I have lived a sort of Forrest Gump-like existence. I had a very humble beginning in Porterdale and have lived a modest and relatively insignificant life, but throughout my life I have often found myself thrown into the company of many people the world would consider great. I have met governors and presidents and star athletes and movie stars. Although I have never found myself in the company of kings, I did meet Prince Charles at Sanford Stadium one Saturday afternoon. I have had the opportunity to sit down and visit with Bob Hope and Bear Bryant and Johnny Cash. I even saw Elvis in person in the Macon Coliseum in 1973.
I am usually at ease in any situation and am seldom intimidated by my surroundings. I was intimidated Wednesday afternoon when I stood up to speak in Dr. Beyers' church.
I have heard hundreds and hundreds of preachers in my day -- of all denominations. As I have listened to most of them preach, if the truth were known, I have said to myself, "I could do a better job than that."
I have never believed that for a moment when I have heard John Beyers preach. I greatly admire the intellect and the passion he brings to his sermons -- as well as his knowledge of the scriptures and the thought he obviously puts into each illustration and each sentence.
I didn't try to be John Beyers Wednesday, but I gave my best shot at being the best Darrell Huckaby I could be. I just hope some of what I said took. I hope that I managed to say something that made a difference in somebody's life, because if I didn't, I wasted my time as well as the time of all the people who heard me speak. If I have learned anything this year, I have learned that time is far too precious a commodity to waste.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.