“The Three Billy Goats Gruff” is a Norwegian fairy tale about three goats named Gruff that were seeking a meadow to graze in.  The only way to the meadow was across a bridge where a troll lived.  The troll lived under the bridge and ate any who tried to cross the bridge.  When the goats crossed the bridge they made a “trip, trap, trip, trap” sound.  The troll would tell any who tried to pass that he was going to eat them up.

When I was eleven years old, I got a job at the City Softball League.  Bum Phillips (former coach of the Houston Oilers) was the manager of the concession stand.  He was attending Stephen F. Austin University.  He was attending college on the GI Bill and supplemented his income at the softball park.  Well, I hired on with Bum to sell soft drinks and pick up the empty bottles.  This was at the time that soft drinks were in “return” bottles.  There was a deposit on the bottles and when they were returned you received your deposit back.  The ballpark was at the university and all the games were at night. 

I sold drinks and received 10 cents for each case I sold.  I also picked up the empty bottles and received 5 cents per case.  This was big money to me.  I got paid in nickels and dimes, so I would have a pocket full of coins by the end of the night.  I had to walk home after the games.  There were lighted streets for the first mile and then I had one mile of gravel road without lights before I would get home.  After I left the paved streets and lights, there was a creek bottom with three bridges that I had to walk across.  Some nights the moon was bright.  But, other nights it was darker than dark.  All of the nights were scary, but the dark ones were the worst. 

Now, try to picture this in your mind.  I am eleven years old with a pocket full of coins that jingled every step  I took.  Each night I walked home I remembered the fairy tale about the goats and the troll.  I always felt certain that the “troll” was living under at least one of the bridges and he was waiting to grab me and take all of my money.  I would always put my hand in my pocket and hold on to the coins to keep them from jingling.  At night it always seems soooo quiet.  I tried to be as quiet as possible but when I walked across the wooden bridges…..”trip, trap, trip, trap.”  It echoed all through the creek bottom and to my little ears it was very, very loud.  Well, the troll never came out from under the bridge and ate me and took all of my money. 

I wish I had “Psalm 23” written in my heart at that time.  To have known the “The Lord is my Shepherd” would have been a great comfort to me.  Especially the 4th verse:  

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil;

For You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

What a comfort that would have been!





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