Thinking Out Loud: Strive to be a Pippa

John T. Catrett, III
Chaplain at AllCare Hospice

Nestled in the hills of eastern Kentucky near the Virginia border is a small town of Pippa Passes, population 300. The Alice Lloyd College that is located in the city adds 600 students. If you research this city and college on the web, you will find them very interesting.

This unusual city name came from a dramatic piece written by Robert Browning in 1841. Pippa was a slave girl in Aoslo, Italy, who daily spun silk in an ancient day sweatshop and yearly she had only three days free from her work obligations. She decided to not “squander a wavelet” of the day, believing that only the rich could be happy. So, for the entire day she pretended that she was rich and famous, like the four of Aoslo’s richest residents. She spent the day walking, skipping and singing through the crime-infested neighborhood of the city, unaware that her songs influenced others to act for the good. The familiar phrase, “God’s in His heaven…all’s right with the world!” is found in Pippa’s song. You can research Pippa Passes on the internet for as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”

At day’s end, “she goes home without the slightest hint she had been used by God, to change the current in the lives of the four richest people whom she imagined to be the happiest in Aoslo, but who in reality were the most miserable of all.”

The town of Pippa Passes, Kentucky, is named for Browning’s poem.

Have you ever met a Pippa? This chaplain has had the privilege and honor of meeting several “Pippas” whose songs have touched his life.

>While a teen-ager in Hobbs, New Mexico, God sent Jack Wisdom into my life. He became my best friend, and the one person to share the love of Jesus Christ with me. It was his life and love for the Lord that lead me to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord of my life. Forty-eight years later we are still the best of friends, and Jack taught me to sing, “Everyday with Jesus is better than the day before…Everyday with Jesus I love Him more and more…” and the “Pippa” message is still true today!

>Still as a teen-ager in Hobbs, Jack’s minister became my minister too, and my mentor in the Lord Jesus Christ. Don “Pappy” S. Hinkle came singing and preaching into my life, and I was changed forever. He was the song leader of Kiamichi Clinic, a men’s retreat where over 5,000 men would show up for great singing and preaching. Pappy loved to sing and whistle all kinds of songs like “Down by the Old Mill Stream”, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”, hymns and choruses. Pappy was a true “Pippa” in my life and to many others.

>As a youth minister here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, tragedy struck in my life, and I was going to resign as the church’s youth minister, but a group of elders convinced me to remain in that position. Most church leaders would have tarred and feather me as they ran me out of town on a rail, but not these Godly men. They went the second mile with this hurting servant and I am in the ministry today because of their courage and love for me. They were truly “Pippas” in my life and ministry.

>After the calamity struck in my life the young people in the church could have said or even thought, “I don’t want to have anything to do with this failure!”, and stayed away from me and the church, but they didn’t. They ministered to me by accepting me and the situation, and being faithful and active for the Lord and His glory. They sang a beautiful song of love and acceptance in my life. I will be forever grateful to this special group of “Pippas”!

The Bible has many “Pippas”—the boy with the loaves and fishes, the lady who gave her last coin and the owner of the Upper Room where the Lord Jesus had His last supper with His disciples are three case in points in the New Testament that quickly comes to my mind.

Each day, our lives should be lived as a “Christian Pippa,” unknowingly blessing others. It might be a song, a compliment, a Christian deed, a smile, a helping hand, feeding a hungry person, clothing someone in need, a personal visit, an encouraging word, a prayer, a telephone call, a personal note to someone in jail or confined by illness or an elderly ‘shut in’—you have endless opportunities to touch the lives of others as you “pass by.” Simply follow the example of Jesus, who “went about doing good” (Acts10: 38).

Updated 01-11-2011

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