The Family Super-Hero

This article, written by Pamela Farmer, appeared in the Lindsay Post Sept. 13, 2002

After years of searching for some of life's truths, I finally stumbled onto one that most people know about but do not give a lot of time or attention to. My new truth for today is that everyone has idiosyncrasies that others have to put up with. Brilliant thought isn't it? (Brian thinks I need to get a life). No one is exempt from this truth, not even my dad, the family super hero. In order for you to understand my dad's idiosyncratic behaviours, we need to take a step back in time to look at the origin of the problem.

From the time of early childhood my dad has been fascinated by tents, especially big ones. Probably part of the reason was that he and his family had helped pitch circus size tents for outdoor summer church/camp meetings in days gone by. These portable meeting places would be moved all over the countryside so that the different communities would have the opportunity to experience the presence of God in very profound ways. Some people would have labelled these meetings as emotional hype and I would have tended to agree with them except that when the meetings and emotional excitement were over with, many people were forever changed. There were drunks who became sober and never drank again, medically unexplained physical healings, major drops in area crime rate and so on. Even the biggest skeptic knows that everyone tends to revert back to their old habits once the excitement dies down. Yet many of these people didn't. All that these people could explain to answer seekers, was they had a head on encounter with God that was life changing.

Even as a child I remember some of these meetings. Dad had continued on with the tent meetings as long as there was a need for them. Then came the first summer when there was no tent to pitch. It was a very odd feeling when one had been use to having camp meetings in a tent. I imagine it was even stranger for Dad being 30 years my senior, yet he knew that the circus tents were no longer needed as there were buildings large enough in most communities to meet the needs of those who wanted to have an encounter with God. Dad never worshipped the tent method of presenting the gospel or held it as the only way God could work in people's lives. When people hold the method as sacred, they're in big trouble. The nail in the coffin of any dying church is the phrase "well we've never done it this way before." People want to stay in their comfort zones of what worked 30 years ago but God never asked us to do that. He wants us to stay alive and fresh to the things He wants done which may mean dying to our "sacred" methods (but not the truths). Insisting on outdated methods will cause us to be less effective at reaching this generation and will in fact, drive them away from getting to know God.

Although Dad's talent for pitching circus tents for gospel meetings is no longer needed, I believe he is still trying to find outlets to release his creative tenting abilities. To the outsider they might consider him to be slightly eccentric but to those who love him, he has affectionately come to be known as Tarp-man, the family hero. Tarp-man's biggest thrill in life is to go to the camping section of large department stores and drool over the latest, greatest, and of course largest, tarps available to the general public. His personal collection of tarps would rival most camping enthusiasts. The bigger the better is Tarp-man's motto. Tarp-man can't resist stringing large tarps, usually 1000 sq feet or more, over the smallest of tents even during a major summertime drought. (He is more optimistic than the rest of us.) He good naturedly takes all the teasing he gets for his idiosyncratic behaviour because he enjoys re-living his life's passion.

I am interested that Tarp-man's hecklers do not hesitate to run for his tarp coverings when there is a cloud burst. Tarp-man instantly becomes a superhero in the eyes of all who congregate around his tent during the storm. Tarp-man, like most superheroes, would prefer to keep his identity a secret but unfortunately he also has to put up with someone else's idiosyncrasies - a daughter who loves to tell stories about her family. Oh well!