The story is told about a man who had an incredibly smart old hound. That dog would tree a coon just the size the man wanted. All he had to do was show the hound a stretcher board and the dog would go tree a coon to fit it.
“It worked well,” the man said, “until the day my wife set the ironing board out on the porch. I haven’t seen my dog since.”
I share that old story in honor of Larry Adkins, the coon hunting preacher. Larry graduated to Heaven in February after a long battle with cancer.
For Larry, hounds were both an enjoyable pastime and valuable tools that allowed him to share the Gospel with people out beneath the stars at night. He loved to be on the ridgetops bragging on the Lord to his hunting buddies while their dogs were roaming the countryside looking for coons.
You realize the Bible encourages us to use whatever tools we have at our disposal to accomplish the Lord’s work. Samson used the jawbone of a donkey. Gideon used some clay jars and torches. And Larry used coonhounds.
You may recall that the Apostle Paul once used a false idol as an object lesson to present the Gospel to a group of confused worshippers on Mars Hill. Paul told them, “As I passed by and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with the inscription, ‘To The Unknown God.’ Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:22-23).
If the Apostle Paul could use an idol to launch a Gospel presentation, certainly Larry could use his hounds for the same purpose.
One of the kindest men you could ever meet, Larry served the same church for more than 30 years. It takes quite a man to accomplish that feat, because, typically, pastors manage to stay about three years on average in any particular church. Larry managed it because he truly was a Christian gentleman.
Theologian B.B. Warfield once said a pastor needs two qualifications: He must know the scriptures and he must be godly. Warfield said those are the two “legs” a pastor stands on. In that case, I can’t think of a pastor with stronger “legs” than Larry’s.
As much as Larry enjoyed following hounds, his true passion was serving the Lord. He loved teaching young Christians, and he was always ready to show non-believers the way of salvation.
We’ll never find another preacher to fill Larry’s shoes. If we tried, we’d be searching for a long, long, long time and still come up empty, like the hound searching for a coon big enough to fit the ironing board.
Roger Alford is pastor of South Fork Baptist Church. Reach him at 502-514-6857 or firstname.lastname@example.org.