Jay Hooten was one of the wisest men that I ever had the opportunity to know! I say that, not just because he was my Father, but because he demonstrated it nearly every day in every phase of his life. I’m not saying that he was perfect, because he had his faults; and he was not ashamed to admit them. I’m not saying that because he was the most educated man I have known, because he only had an 8th grade education (and as he would say, that was only 1/2 year at a time, because he was in the fields working the other half). He was raised on the banks of the Cadron Creek, not far from Wooster, Arkansas. If you don’t know where Wooster is, don’t feel bad. Most people from Arkansas did not know where it was until about 2 years ago, when the Highway Department put an exit on Interstate 40, and said that it would take you there. He grew up chopping and picking cotton, fishing, trapping, hunting, and a million other things that boys living in the country did (that were raised during the depression). If he were still living, he would be celebrating his 96th birthday in about two months; but I know he would rather be where he is now, than be here (especially with mother there).
Let me give you two or three examples of his wisdom. Obviously, the greatest sign of his wisdom is that he believed in, and followed Jesus. He didn’t become a Christian until his early to mid 30’s, but it was a life-long decision, that changed everything for him. Proverbs 1:7 says The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom … , and Dad loved and respected Jesus. That love and respect caused him to look at life through the eyes of a believer, and it shaped every action, word, and decision that he made. Basil Overton used to tell us, “He that knows the Lord, knows what he needs to know the most.” People did not have to be around Dad long, to know that there was something different about him. What was different was, he knew, really knew, the Lord.
The second example that I would share, is the way that he handled disciplining me. I was a problem child, and I am ashamed to admit that now; but too many people know that it is true, for me to deny it. Mother would lose her temper, and discipline me with whatever was handy — as we got older, and both of us grew, we had a lot of laughs about that. But Dad, never would discipline me when he was angry, he would always say “I’m too mad to discipline/spank/ whip you now, but we’ll get together tomorrow.” Well, I always dreaded tomorrow! I don’t know why, because he was so tender-hearted that he would lash me a couple of times with his belt; I would cry real loud, and he would quit. When I was older, I asked him “why” he always waited to discipline me. I’ll never forget him saying, “If I whipped you when I was mad, I was doing it for me; and not for you.” Over the years, I wish that I had been wise enough to practice what he said.
The final story that I want to share, has to do with his business, and the way that he ran it. Actually, there are two parts to this. The first one, Dad always wanted people to feel as if he treated them fairly; because he felt that is the way that the Lord wanted him to be. There was one customer that called, that was extremely irate over a bill; and felt as if he had been charged too much. Dad talked with him for a while, explaining every charge on the statement; but nothing would satisfy the man. Finally, Dad told him just to send him a check for what he thought the job was worth, and Dad would consider the bill paid. When relating that story in other places, I have had people tell me they knew people that had done the same thing, but that is not a story that you hear often. The other story (the one that all of this has been leading too) happened in the mid 1970’s. Dad had a small “service station equipment” business, where he sold, installed, and repaired all the equipment (gasoline, oil, air, hydraulic, etc) that was used in those places that pre-dated convenience stores. Anyway, in the mid 70’s, Dad got a contract to do a job for a truck stop in Oklahoma, and it was a little over $40,000 — a great job for a small business like his in the mid-70’s. Well, the job was nearly completed, and the truck stop about ready to be opened, when the owner filled for bankruptcy. All of sudden, everything got tied up in bankruptcy court; and Dad did not get a dime (even though, he had to pay for all the equipment, materials, and labor). I remember how tight things got there for a while. I don’t remember how much later, but it seems like it was 3-5 years later, Mom (who was Dad’s bookkeeper) told me that the court had awarded Hooten Equipment about $6,000.00 against what was owed. I remember talking to Dad, and saying “That really has to hurt, doesn’t it?” I will never forget what he told me, He said “Not really. I asked the Lord to help me get through this, and He did. Now, this is like an unexpected gift from Him. I just feel grateful.”
James 1:5-8 (NIV), If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
It appears to me, that about all of James chapter one has to deal with the “trials” of life, and how the child of God is to deal with them. With that being true, you would have to think that these verses would have the same application. So, now go back and look at James 1:2-4 (NIV):
Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
When Dad got the letter, telling him that all of the debts and money were going to be tied up in bankruptcy court, I doubt that he saw one thing there to fell “joyous” about. But, if you look at verse 2, it doesn’t say that everything is “pure joy”, it says to “Consider it pure joy”! If there is a situation, a disease, a problem, or a relationship that is putting your faith through a trial; and you are struggling with how to deal with it — take it to God! Ask Him to give you the wisdom, to be able to deal with this “trial” in the way that He wants. Tell him that you recognize when you do that, you will be able to endure and persevere through the trouble,, and the end result will be STRONGER faith. That when you pass through to the other side of the difficulty, you will be able to look back with “pure joy“. I am still trying to learn the lessons that my Dad taught me, and this is one of the important ones. How are you doing with the trials of life?