Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down

Published 8:47 pm Monday, June 5, 2017

The National Spelling Bee is upon us, and Google did some research in honor of the event.

According to “The Washington Post,” Google found the most “how to spell” searches this spring from each of the 50 states, and compiled a list of the most troublesome words in the country. The most researched word for Alabama, Michigan and Washington is “pneumonia.” In Pennsylvania, it’s “sauerkraut.”

In South Carolina, it’s “chihuahua.” Indiana Hoosiers are more spiritual since they search most often for “hallelujah.” And the most puzzling search is from Louisiana where natives want to know how to spell “giraffe,” which unlike the armadillo, isn’t a native species.

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I was always a good speller and helped the boys in my class win in third grade. The boys were disqualified early on and I was left to spell down the girls, which I did.

The boys held me in the air and cheered since “we” won. I was over-confident the next time and had to sit down after the first word. I’m ashamed to say that the word was “baby,” and I spelled it b-a-b-b-y.

As the old spiritual says, “Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down.”

I suppose my experience is a parable of life, for I’ve been up and down many times in circumstances more critical than third-grade spelling.

One of the most encouraging things about scripture is that it forthrightly explains all facets in the lives of its heroes. For example, Joseph in the Old Testament “brought an evil report” about his brothers; in other words, he was a tattletale (Genesis 37:2).

Dr. Clyde Francisco used to tell of a Sunday School pupil who pointed this out and said it wasn’t right, but whose teacher insisted if Joseph did it, it must be good. 

Francisco said that character failure is wrong no matter who the character is.

And the flawed hero list includes David, Samson, Jonah, Peter and Paul and others.

These were real flesh-and-blood people who sometimes allowed the spirit of God to use them, and sometimes rebelled.

In fact, someone insisted this is one reason we know the Bible is inspired — it tells the unvarnished truth about its characters.

But the best news of scripture is that the God revealed there is merciful and offers forgiveness.

A minister who stumbled found himself at a restoration event at his denomination’s headquarters in another state. The conference leader took him one day to see some framed artwork near the chapel. The artwork had been used in Bible study material over the years.

The leader said, “I know this is just an artist’s rendering, but look at the joy on the face of the father when he embraced the returning prodigal.”