The Sucker Festival

The Bible says there's "nothing new under the sun." That's why history has so much to teach us. And that's why we can learn so much from the actions of others. If actions could be transferred into the language of art, this one has to be a masterpiece!

In the year 1950 a man calling himself F. Bam Morrison went to Wetumka, Oklahoma and got some of the local people to put their finances into bringing a circus to town selling advance tickets and advertising. Additionally, the local merchants spent a lot of money on food and beverages, souvenirs etc. preparing for the crowds of people who would attend this circus. Moms, Dads, Grandma's, Grandpa's and of course the children of all sizes were elated at the thought of a circus in their very own town. But the great big bubble of excitement soon popped when shortly before the prospective date of the circus, Mr. Morrison skipped town with much of the local residents money. Everyone was so disappointed and their hope for a circus was gone. But someone's ingenuity saved the day! The idea was soon presented to the town to have a four day celebration called "The Sucker Festival," because they felt they had been suckered big-time. The people loved the idea and the Festival turned out to be a great success. And the whole town had a good laugh and a good time in the process.

This incident attracted national attention at the time and the newspapers throughout the country reported about the town that was taken in by a con man, but who also turned the circumstance around to be something good. And believe it or not, all this goodness has continued down through the years because the "Sucker Festival" has been held most years since 1950. The townspeople have even tried for many years to contact Mr. Morrison to invite him to the festival. That's what I call turning the other cheek!

God says "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children...When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant..." (Deut. 6:4,5,10) In other words God says, "Come live in my Kingdom of Love! Choose My ways, respect My commandments and then watch out...for a deluge of blessings will follow!" And folks, this is what happened in Wetumka, Oklahoma. Instead of allowing the sentiment of evil and resentment to grow and fester, someone asked the question, "What would Jesus do?" Then Love saved the day! And the blessings were incredible! And over fifty years later "The Sucker Festival" is still an annual celebration! If you're interested, check it out at www.pe.net/~rksnow/okcountywetumkacev.htm

There are a lot of definitions for "love," but I think love is a concentrated form of forgiveness. In fact, I think love is a resolute, fortified determined form of forgiveness. We live in an imperfect world with a lot of imperfect people. They hurt us, they disappoint us, they discourage us...and they give us many reasons to cry out to the Saviour for help! (That's a good thing!) People are going to fail us, it's a fact of life. But the important thing is how we respond when they do. Jesus says "You have heard that it was said 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you; love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven... Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-45, 48) That word "perfect" in the original Greek means "complete." God doesn't want us to have any missing parts. He wants to decorate our lives and characters with the things that will make us the happiest so we can inherit the "Kingdom blessings" talked about in Deuteronomy chapter six. He wants to give us the best of the best. And He knows that resentment and hate will only hurt us and lead to deeper and deeper destruction. In fact, studies have been done that prove that resentment and hate are some top factors in causing deadly diseases. And you don't need that, neither do I. Yet genuine forgiveness, or genuine Love is a gift from God. And this is a gift that God delights in giving to us. Someone once said, "It is pleasing to God to see His creatures forever drawing nearer to Him by greater degrees of resemblance."

It would have been so much easier for God to eradicate the rebellion and the sin from planet earth when Adam and Eve sinned. He could have just wiped them out and started all over again. But instead He chose centuries of pain and heartache, as His perfect heart of love watches our pain and heartache. He chose a path of sacrifice and surrender. He chose a road of betrayal and shame which eventually led to the cross. Although it has taken and takes incredible sacrifice on His part, He still chooses to "overcome evil with good." And folks, when we pick up our cross and follow His example, in the end the cross always carries us. It carries us through the hurt to brighter days and new discoveries. And the cross isn't quite as heavy when you know there's a big blessing around the corner.

All right, 'fess up! Someone's hurt your feelings and crossed the line at some point in your life and it's a struggle to love him! Why not apply "The Sucker Festival" principle and find something to smile about! I've had to do this on "an occasion or two." It works!!








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