One of my most special childhood memories is when Mother and Daddy took us to the Friday Night Opry at the Ryman Auditorium.
I was thrilled because we got to see the String Bean in person. His real name was David Akeman, but I never knew that as a child. He was simply String Bean, the funny banjo player and singer who dressed in a costume that was part hillbilly, part barbershop quartet, and part clown. He wore a worn hat, a light-colored belt, a pair of pants with the waist reaching about 12 inches below his waist, and a long striped shirt with sleeves that were a bit too short.
Jokes were always part of the country music shows we saw as children. String Bean had a running gag in which someone would ask him if he had gotten a letter from home. He would reply that he had and then start searching for it while saying, “I’ve got it next to my heart, heart, heart, heart” while patting various places on his body.
As I sat down to write this to you last night, I thought about the battle for the hearts of your children. String Bean’s heart, heart, heart, heart came to mind. Satan is trying to contaminate precious hearts — yours, mine, and our children’s. We simply cannot let that happen. Guard, guard, guard, guard your children’s hearts.
As you know, you can’t simply guard their hearts. You also have to fill them with good teachings. I’m convinced that children are much more likely to let their parents’ teaching sink into their hearts if those parents are also filling them with wonderful memories as our parents did for my brother and me at that long ago Friday Night Opry and in many other ways.
Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.