By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

Like all country music singers, Kenny Rogers had a style all his own but his selection of song generally had the power to provoke strong imagery and convey a powerful message through the telling of a story.
His first big hit, The Gambler, in 1978 speaks to this ability.
But it's another song I keep hearing, keep listening to, that speaks even louder:
The Coward of the County.
It's sad and profound all in one but it strikes a chord in me so I've decided to share it.
Read the words and select the lines you find most meaningful and consider "why" you chose them.
Your selection will tell you a story about "you."
The Coward of the County
By: Roger Bowling and Billy Ed Wheeler
Recorded by Kenny Rogers

Everyone considered him the coward of the county
He never stood one single time to prove the county wrong
His mama named him Tommy but folks just called him yellow
Something always told me they were reading Tommy wrong

He was only ten years old when his daddy died in prison
I looked after Tommy cuz he was my brother's son
I still recall the final words my brother said to Tommy
Son my life is over but yours is just begun

Promise me son not to do the things I've done
Walk away from trouble if you can
Now it don't mean your weak if you turn the other cheek
I hope you're old enough to understand
Son you don't have to fight to be a man

There's someone for everyone and Tommy's love was Becky
In her arms he didn't have to prove he was a man
One day while he was working the Gatlin boys came calling
They took turns at Becky ... there was three of them

Tommy opened up his door and saw his Becky crying
The torn dress the shattered look was more than he could stand
He reached above the fireplace and took down his daddy's picture
As his tears fell on his daddy's face he heard these words again
(Repeat chorus)

The Gatlin boys just laughed at him when he walked into the barroom
One of them got up and met him half way cross the floor
Tommy turned around they said hey look ole Yellow's leaving
You could've heard a pin drop ... Tommy stopped and locked the door

Twenty years of crawling was bottled up inside him
He wasn't holding nothing back he let 'em have it all
When Tommy left the barroom not a Gatlin boy was standing
He said this one's for Becky as he watched the last one fall

And I heard him say
I promised you Dad not to do the things you've done
I'll walk away from trouble if I can
Now please don't think I'm weak I couldn't turn the other cheek
Papa I sure hope you understand
Sometimes you gotta fight when you're a man
Everyone considered him ... the coward of the county.

I've picked my lines and I know why they matter to me.
10 of them ... all for distinct and different reasons.
First "trigger line" and the only one I'll share:
Something always told me they were reading Tommy wrong
Hmmm ...
Our propensity to form opinions without knowledge is extremely great,
but it must be acknowledged that rarely do we read people rightly and, generally and continually, we simply have it all "wrongly."
It's not until we really "get inside someone" that we really know someone.
And once we really know someone we act a little more human, a little more graceful, a little more forgiving ... a little more loving.
The "20 years bottled up" generally amounts to something specific in each of us.
If you have a few, even one or two in your life, who truly know "you," count yourself blessed.
But if you feel bottled up, afraid, and alone, I just want to remind you that God knows the "whole" of you.
He knows your hurts, heartaches, tears, and deepest fears ... and He loves you and whispers,
You're not alone.
Listen to the lines of the One who knows you and take time to read and reflect on Psalm 139:
"O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thoughts afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue but lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before and laid Thine hand upon me ..."
Psalm 139:1-5
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