Sumter Pastor Clay Smith: Truck on the loose...


I needed to pick up some heifers in Gaffney. I went out mid-morning to hook up my old goose-neck trailer. My trailer is a cast-off from the ranch down home; it is about 43 years old but has a new bottom. For those of you unfamiliar with goose-neck trailers, instead of hooking to a ball on the rear bumper, it hooks to a ball in the bed of the truck, affixed to the frame.

To hook up, you must lower your tailgate, back the truck under the neck and then lower the trailer onto the ball. It is not as simple as it sounds. Since my truck lacks fancy things like two back-up cameras, it is a matter of trial and error. Sometimes you get it on the first try; sometimes, it takes two, three, or as many as 10 tries to get it right.

This morning, I whipped my truck around, started backing up, then heard and felt the thud. The hitch had collided with my tailgate. I had parked the trailer some five weeks earlier, and it had settled just enough to not clear my tailgate. I gave a deep sigh, pulled up a few feet and got out.

I went to the trailer and began to turn the big jack handle. They should use this exercise to do nuclear stress tests on your heart. Turning that big crank over and over will get your heart rate up. I finally got it cranked up as high as it would go and turned to go back to the truck. It wasn't there.

My truck was leisurely driving across the pasture, driver door open, taking in all the sights. I had forgotten to put it in "park."

I am not a runner; I am a walker. But a walker can become a runner if he or she has proper incentive. I thought about having to haul my trailer on my own back to Gaffney. I thought about the fence I would need to repair. I thought about my truck becoming feral and wandering through woods in the northern part of the county. Funny how much can run through your mind in a split second.

I took off running after my truck. My body was surprised and immediately began sending messages back to my brain, "Are you sure about this?" My bad knee registered a complaint with management which was ignored. My heart and lungs also were letting their displeasure be known: "You have not done this in years." They were right.

I wish someone could have captured my gallop on video. I think it would have thousands of views. A chubby bald man running to catch his truck is worth two or three chuckles.

My truck was moving slowly, and I was gaining ground all the time. But there was a slight downhill grade ahead, and I knew if the truck reached it, I would never catch it. Somewhere screaming in my circulatory system was a voice that said, "We can't take much more of this, Captain." Marathon runners talk about hitting a wall about mile 18. I was hitting my wall at about mile one-tenth.

I pulled even with the rear of the truck, then caught up to the open door. I grabbed the door and leaped on the running board - truck in hand. I dropped in the seat, put my foot on the brake, and the truck came to a complete stop.

It took a few minutes for my heart to re-regulate. After letting everything calm down, I drove my truck back to the trailer, backed up and got a perfect alignment. I dropped the trailer, hooked up, and I was on my way.

For some reason, the phrase in the Bible that says, "Be still and know that I am God," kept coming to mind as I traveled. I thought about how much of life is chasing things that I should have put in park. But I try to cram too much in my life, and I forget little details. So I run after things that get away from me. I think this is why God gave us a command to rest: "Six days you shall labor, and the seventh you shall rest." It is probably the commandment we break most often.

Make sure to put life in park from time to time. Otherwise, your soul will get away from you, and you will end up chasing what should have already been standing still.

The Rev. Dr. Clay Smith is the lead pastor of Alice Drive Baptist Church in Sumter. Email him at