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Can’t Find My Way Out Of A Paper Bag

By Steve Bietz

Burke County



Although the American cartoonist, Charles Schulz, passed away over 20 years ago. His influence on society lives on in his comic strip creation called Peanuts. I was reminded of the genius of Charles Schulz just this week as I was sorting through an old cache of newspapers and magazines that I had kept because at one point, they had caught my eye.  A Peanuts cartoon was among the stack.  It starts with Lucy at her five-cent psychology booth, where Charlie Brown has stopped for advice about life.

“Life is like a deck chair, Charlie,” she says.  “On the cruise ship of life, some people place their deck chair at the rear of the ship so they can see where they’ve been.  Others place their deck chair at the front of the ship so they can see where they’re going.”

The good “doctor” looks at her puzzled client and asks, “Which way is your deck chair facing?”   Without hesitation, Charlie replied with gloominess, “I can’t even get my deck chair unfolded.”

Indeed, I often believe I got stuck with that same deck chair, Charlie.   I was talking to one of my church members the other day, and we were comparing our inabilities.  You know, the who is the worse game.  We both sounded a lot like Charlie Brown.  I told my church family member how dumb I could be, while he came back with his own rendition of how dumb he could be.  I’m not sure who won.  He got in the last word with the standard comeback, “Pastor, sometimes I can’t find my way out of a paper bag.”  I only responded with a nod and a smile to my church member, but on the inside, just to myself, I admitted that those paper bags can be rather formidable.

If I pray for direction and God’s guiding hand, why can’t I find my way out of a paper bag?  One of my favorite authors, Ellen White, penned these words on page 196 in her book, LIFE SKETCHES.  “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.”  In the book of Hebrews, which most scholars attribute to the apostle Paul, we find the writer qualifying his previous words in Hebrews chapter 11 where he expounds eloquently on the faithfulness of an assortment of people we read about in scripture.  I find myself concerned with me and my deck chair as I read Hebrews chapter 11.   I mean if a paper bag trips me up, then I certainly cannot add my name to the faithfulness list that Paul shares.

But it is then that Paul gives council that I seem to forget so easily.  “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1,2.  When I am beaten by a deck chair of life, it is when I forget who the author of my faith is.  When a paper bag baffles me, it is usually because I have let it slip my mind who is the finisher of my faith.

We are hoping I pray, coming out of an unprecedented time, where a virus paper bag has kept us locked up.  We can’t seem to unfold our deck chair pandemic.  But we can have that blessed assurance that deck chairs, and paper bags that ensnare us, are no match to the Author and Finisher of our faith.


Steve Bietz is the pastor at Morganton Seventh Day Adventist Church.


You can read more from Steve HERE.