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Blog: Tom Job

A Note from Tom: November 12th, 2010

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Wow! What a time we had on Wednesday night! Hee-hawin’ to Devo’s skits…spinnin’ squares, dancing round ‘n round…hand-clapping to corny bluegrass…

Can you imagine the whole Triple C sanctuary rockin’ with…

“Wish that I was on ole Rocky Top down in the Tennessee hills!

Ain't no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top ain't no telephone bills…

Rocky Top you'll always be home sweet home to me!

Good ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee, Rocky Top Tennesseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Now, THAT’s corny!

The Dictionary says “corny” means “overly simple and sentimental.”

If that’s true, “Rocky Top” is the national anthem of Corn City!

Talk about “overly simple”…”Rocky Top” isn’t really “home, sweet home” to anyone! It’s a hill near Thunderhead Mtn. (elevation 5,440 feet) on the Appalachian Trail, overlooking Cades Cove…and nobody lives there! And about the fact that there ain’t being no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top, “…in the Great Smoky Mountains, our most polluted national park, ozone pollution exceeds that of Atlanta and even rivals Los Angeles!”

Rocky Top…it’s more complicated than you think.

So…we went with overly simple and sentimental the other night! It was basically a corn-fest!

There’s a reason why bluegrass music is simple…er, corny. “Corny” was first used in 1932 to describe something that appeals to “country folk…to the corn-fed”. When folks lived in the country… grew their own vittles… made their own corn bread (or they didn’t have any bread at all)… life was simpler. Either God sent you rain or you didn’t eat. Either He blessed your garden and fields or you went hungry.

It was as simple as that.

Simple is good. No matter what happens, I know God loves me. I know He knows what He’s doing. It may sound corny, but “I know He has a wonderful plan for my life.” It may be simple, but it’s simply all I need to know.

Psalm 123 says, “My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. 
But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother…”

I don’t understand much but those simple things I know are enough.

One day I was listening to an old album of bluegrass Gospel songs by one of my favs- Doc Watson. He is an unbelievable guitarist, who was blind before his first birthday. He’s totally da bomb! Amazing! He has a humongous bluegrass and Americana festival in Wilkesboro every spring. It’s called “Merlefest”, named for his son Merle who was killed in a tractor accident in 1985.

An old waltz-time song on there, called “Gathering Buds” is about how when kids die before they’re grown, it’s like God is gather flower buds before they bloom so they can flower in Heaven.

Doc was singing this ¾ time ol’ timey hymn with Alan O’Brien of the Nashville Bluegrass Band doing a high, lonesome tenor harmony…

“Jesus has taken a beautiful bud

Out of the garden of love

Borne it away to the city of God

Home of the angels above.

Gathering buds, gathering buds

Wonderful care will be giv'n

Jesus is gathering, day after day

Buds for the palace of Heaven.

Fathers and mothers, weep not or be sad

Still on the Savior rely

You shall behold them again and be glad

Beautiful flowers on high.

Gathering buds, gathering buds

Wonderful care will be giv'n

Jesus is gathering, day after day

Buds for the palace of Heaven.

“Wow!” I thought. “That is corny! I guess back in the day, people had to deal with kids dying young more than today…all those little graves in the Cades Cove cemeteries…It’s so awesome to know that in all we don’t know, at least those parents could be sure that our Lord has taken their kids home with Him…but ‘gathering buds’ seems like a really corny way to say it…”

And then…as Doc was singing this last chorus…”Wonderful care will be giv’n…” it happened.

 His voice cracked.

And I cried.

No one would ever know why Merle was crushed by a tractor. The mysteries are deeper than our minds can reach. But to know that God had simply gathered him home. He wasn’t lost…just gathered.

Corny…er, simple…is good.