In memory of Charlie “Malarkey” Hearn
I remember growing up following my dad as he led construction crews that built roads into the mountains of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. This was not the type of road construction you see along I-75. My dad and his crews blew holes through the mountains with dynamite and took down trees. He built roads into the sides of mountains so high that if you went off them you would plunge hundreds of feet to your death. The roads would later be used by logging companies to haul trees out of the forest. Today people use them to get to picnic grounds or hiking trails. It was hard and dangerous work. My dad and the crews that worked for him were by and large from the greatest generation. They had fought in World War II but when they returned home they didn’t do the thing that you hear in the 1950’s newsreels of using the GI bill to go to college and then start businesses and move to the suburbs. Most of my dad’s crew like him had been loggers and construction workers before the war and so after the war they headed right back into the mountains of the Northwest. There were also a number of them that after the war didn’t want anything to do with normal society. Many of them lived on the edge of it and my dad spent countless hours counseling them and taking care of their families, sometimes taking money out of his own wallet so that their kids wouldn’t go hungry.
What I remember most about all these men is that they were great story tellers. My dad was one of the best. He could tell a story, a lot of them semi-true that would hold you captivated. My mom and I would live with the crews in the mountains during the summer and I would sit around the campfire and listen to these guys. I realize now that many of their stories were exaggerations and tall tales and they would regularly call each other out on them and then laugh about it. My dad’s nickname was Malarkey, because of all the stuff he would add to his stories. Even though they knew he was lying no one could stop listening. I still remember the story he told about his spaghetti trees; there was one guy that actually believed it. A good story is an amazing thing, it can make you laugh, but it can also teach and make you wonder and think. It puts things in perspective and in many ways forms how we live.
This Summer I plan to tell you some stories, but not the ones my dad told me, but the ones my mom read to me at night. The stories my mom read to me made me think and wonder. They were stories about men like Naaman who as a Syrian war general was healed by an enemy prophet and shown the grace of God. Stories of women like Esther who saved her entire nation by an incredible act of courage that would result in a Jewish festival that continues to this day. Then there is Ehud who carries out a Seal Team Six like mission and lives to tell about it. Stories about a guy named Balaam and his talking donkey. These stories are amazing and thought provoking and in the end point us in different ways to Jesus himself. So this summer pull up a pew and get ready to hear some true stories from the Bible, a few of them you may not have even known about. Listen as the story points us ultimately to Christ. God loves stories, he tells a lot of them. Let’s take them in together. Here is the schedule. You may notice there is nothing for July; that is because I am going back out to where my dad built all the roads and where all those stories were told so many years ago. I plan to tell some of them to my own kids, particularly the one about the boy named Falling Rock… Oh well that is another story in itself.