I’ve been thinking about interesting sayings the past week and how we pick them up. Several have come up in conversation with others recently.
One of my favorites my mom used to say. “If I had my druthers . . .” In other words, if I had what I would rather have. I just like that word “druthers” though. I don’t know where this came from, but I’m pretty sure my mom didn’t make it up. She picked it up probably from her mother or it was a popular saying when she was a kid. We don’t always get our druthers, but we think if we just had them (whatever they are) we’d be happy. Of course, that’s not necessarily the case, but we’d like to have our druthers just the same.
Another saying that I remember my mom using was, “It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.” Now, most ordinary things are, though we do sometimes find ourselves in circumstances where a poke in the eye with a sharp stick would seem preferable. I think the point of this saying is that when we complain about minor inconveniences – like having to stand in a long line at the grocery store or enduring the common cold – it’s good to remember that such problems could be worse. I remember one time several years ago I was talking to an Oregon lawyer who happened to have the last name as my mom’s maiden name (which is not a terribly common name). At some point in the conversation he mentioned that he was originally from Michigan, which is where my mom was born. Then as we talked about something many people had been complaining about he said, “Well, it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.” I couldn’t believe it – I just started laughing. I had never heard anyone but my mom use that saying. Must have been a Michigan saying.
Another saying is one that has always reminded me of my dad, and I heard it for the first time in a long time at the Third Day concert last week. At one point in the middle of the concert when the band was in the middle of the center aisle two rows behind me, Mac Powell asked a man if he could use his seat to stand one. The man stood up and Mac climbed up on the chair so everyone could see him. He started to talk, then out of the corner of his eye he noticed how tall the guy who had given up his seat was. Even standing on the chair Mac was barely a head taller than the guy (and Mac Powell is not what I would call short). He turned to the guy and said, “Well you’re a tall drink of water, aren’t you?” I’ve always loved that description of a tall person, as a “tall drink of water.” It conjures up images of someone very tall and slender, like my dad who was 6′ 5″ and 172 lbs. I don’t know the origin of this saying, but I’m pretty sure it’s a Southern thing.
There are other sayings that have their origin in scripture, though I think a lot of people have no idea that they are based in God’s Word. One such saying is, “He saw the handwriting on the wall.” This saying means that a person sees that the end or their demise is near and imminent. This saying has its origin in the story in Daniel 5. In this story God gives King Belshazzar a message written on a wall by a disembodied hand. The message, interpreted by Daniel, is that the king had been weighed in the balance by God and found wanting, and that his kingdom would fall. Soon everything told by the handwriting on the wall came to pass as King Belshazzar lost his throne. He didn’t want to believe it, but it was true. We can often be just as stubborn. We can see “the handwriting on the wall” but don’t want to believe that anything bad will happen. But sometimes it is important to heed the handwriting on the wall and change our ways.
Another saying from scripture is that “money is the root of all evil.” At least that is what most people think the saying is. But in fact, the Biblical verse is “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV). It is not money itself that is the root of evil. Money is just a tool, a means of facilitating trade of good between people. It is the love of money as an end in itself and putting our desire for money ahead of all else – including brother and sister, friend and co-worker, and even God – that is the root of evil.
Finally, one of my favorite Biblical sayings is a reference to King David. We often hear someone say, “he’s a man after my own heart.” This refers to someone who is like-minded and passionate about the same things as the speaker. King David was a man after God’s own heart. He was passionate about the things of God and sought to know God better. In 1 Samuel 13:14, the prophet Samuel told King Saul that God had taken away his throne because of the evil he had done, and that “the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people.” Then in the book of Acts, the writer Luke says, “God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” Acts 13:22 (NIV). I like this saying because it is a reminder that you don’t have to be perfect to be a believer after God’s own heart. David certainly was not perfect, but he had a burning desire to know God better. When he did stray, he repented of his sin and returned to the Lord.
So in conclusion, if I had my druthers, I’d make sure that I did not succumb to the temptation to let the love of money consume me, and I’d be a woman after God’s own heart. Long ago I saw the handwriting on the wall if I continued in my sinful ways. I know that not only is following God better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, it’s more refreshing than a tall drink of water.