The Fire or The Scrap Heap?

Facebook Twitter

At the time of this writing, it has been roughly 5 years and 9 months since my precious bride, Jany, left this earth and went home to be with her Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ. She passed into eternity on September 11, 2011. The hole that was created in my heart and mind on that indelible day still exists. I seriously doubt that I will ever be able to fill it. I am still grieving and doing all that I can do to get past the pain and hurt. So far, I have not been successful in overcoming it.

Now please be patient with me as this discussion is not an “Oh poor me” article trying to exact some sympathy from my readers and listeners. My intent with this article is not to relive the past, but rather to try to turn a lemon into lemonade. Living alone is no easy task for me after having 42 wonderful years of marriage to my special and elegant lady. But something very special happened to me today and this event has caused me to write about my loss with the purpose of possibly helping some other soul(s) who might be going through the same or similar situation as that which I have experienced. If you are experiencing this dreadful wretched disease called cancer, in any of its deadly forms, it is my hope that you will be encouraged by this article and that it will fill and lift your heart and your hopes of recovery to a higher than ever before level. If you know of anyone who is presently suffering or of any surviving family members or a friend of any cancer patients who have not survived their battle, please share this discussion with them. It just may be a great help and comfort to them.

I have been greatly blessed this day. The great blessing has come to me through a true story that rekindled many of my fondest childhood memories as well as those of the recent past. I am sharing this same story with you readers and listeners with the sincere hope that it too will bless you and give you great comfort.

As a child I grew up in Boise, Idaho. Up until age seven, there was no television in existence in our community. All we had (in addition to attending public school and living with our family) to gain our knowledge and understanding, education and information, entertainment, and social development as well as learn and develop increased people skills, as a person and as a family, was to read the newspaper, listen to the radio, read books and magazines, and mostly experienced great on-going personal two-way conversation by and between all members of the family.

At that time in the early 1950s, one of the most popular and entertaining radios talk-show hosts/announcers was a brilliant and articulate down-to-earth communicator by the name of Arthur Godfrey. As a family, the five of us would sit around the Zenith console radio set in our living room and listen to all types and kinds of radio shows. But everyone’s ears perked up and we all paid close attention to what Mr. Godfrey had to say because there was always something to learn whenever his show aired. He always spoke to us, through the radio, as if he was right there with us, sitting in our living room, carrying on a personal conversation, while simultaneously teaching and enlightening the Severn Family as to what important things are and were actually going on in the world around us.

Whenever Arthur Godfrey spoke (always in perfect English), it was almost mesmerizing. He delivered all of his discussions calmly, quietly, even paced, and straight to the point always thoroughly flavored with great humor and kindness. All we listeners gained something very beneficial every time his show was aired.

Today, this very afternoon, the day after Father’s Day, 2017, I was at my home on the back deck enjoying for the first time this year an 80+ degree ambient temperature. My local children and grandchildren had all gone to Seattle for the four-game series played between the Seattle Mariners and the Detroit Tigers.

With my dog at my feet, a glass of ice water in my hand, and a good new book in my lap, I was contently reading along and thinking about the subject matter that I had just read. As I slowly turned the page, much to my great and wonderful surprise, there appeared a true short-story about none other than Arthur Godfrey. Instantly fond memories came flooding over me. My thoughts quickly flew back to my childhood days in Boise. As I continued reading, and the depth of the article grew and grew, big watery tears began flowing from my eyes. This true story truly touched my heart.

No matter what is happening in our lives; no matter who or what group of people has irritated or hurt us with their words or actions; there will always be hope eternal that life and things will get better for us in the future if we will just keep up our hope for a better tomorrow.

Please permit me to share with you exactly what I read. I deeply desire that this article blesses all of you readers and listeners as it did me.

The Fire or the Scrap Heap?

By Arthur Godfrey

“On the walls of my office in New York hang a number of wise sayings all of which I have had lettered and framed. Most of them are well known, but one is not.

It reads:

‘The fire, Lord, not the scrap heap.’

I hung it there to remind me of a story:

There was once a blacksmith who had great faith in God in spite of a lot of sickness in his life. An unbeliever ask him one day how he could go on trusting in God who let him suffer.

“When I make a tool,” the blacksmith answered, “I take a piece of iron and put it into the fire. Then I strike it on the anvil to see if it will take temper. If it does, I can make a useful article out of it. If not, I toss it on the scrap heap and sell it two pounds to the penny. Maybe God tests us like this. When suffering has come my way, I know that I’ve come out the better for it, so much so that I can honestly say, “Put me in the fire, Lord, if that’s what it takes, just don’t throw me on the scrap heap.”

I like this story because it suggests a creative way of looking at things that seem to be pure disaster. It tells me something about this stubborn hunk of iron and the fires through which I have personally passed.

My first fire came to me in my life when I was 28 years old. I had a radio announcing job in Washington D.C., and I liked to take the night shift so that during the day I could drive out to the old Congressional Airport and fly a Franklin glider.

I was headed there one bright September morning in 1931, driving a 1926 Chrysler on narrow Riggs Road, when suddenly a truck coming the other way crossed the centerline and hit me, head-on. It happened so quickly there wasn’t time to touch the brakes or turn the wheel. I remember the sound of crashing glass, the sight of a hot engine on the seat beside me, and then nothing more for a full week.

The two guys in the truck came away with scratches, but when the police found me in the ditch beside the road they thought I was dead.

At the hospital a team of surgeons put back all the pieces: four broken ribs,
hole in one lung, two smashed kneecaps, dislocated right hip, fractures of the right hip socket, left femur driven through its socket, 27 fractures in the pelvis, and other odds and ends of lesser consequence.

As I said, I was completely out about a week. When I came to one night I thought I was laying in my casket at my own funeral. There were flowers all over the place (sent in by radio listeners) and somewhere I could hear someone praying. Then I listened to the words and I knew I was alive because the voice—a girl’s—was asking God not to let me die. Later, I wondered if the voice and the prayer weren’t a dream, but the doctor told me that the same student nurse prayed over me every night during the time I was unconscious.

Anyway, when I became fully conscious, I discovered a cast from my collarbone to my feet. And there I stayed while the weeks stretched into months. Worse than the pain was the idleness: nothing to do all day and all night but to listen to the radio beside my bed until 3:00 a.m. when the last West Coast stations signed off for the night.

And it was there, chained to the receiving end of the box that I had only worked behind up till then, that I learned something which was to forever change my life. Something that I might never have had an ear to hear if it hadn’t been for that period of captive listening.

One day, one of those “hello-out-there-in-radio-land” announcers read a commercial as if he were reciting Shakespeare through a megaphone to a full house at Yankee Stadium. “Heck, Buddy,” I thought, “you don’t have to shout. It’s only me.” Weren’t radio announcers (me included) making a big mistake in imagining we were addressing great numbers of people? In the aggregate, perhaps, but that was an abstraction that had no existence in reality. Wasn’t the reality always one person listening to another one: the invalid in this bed, the salesman in his automobile, the housewife at her ironing board? I resolved right then and there that when I returned to radio I would in the future address myself to one person alone, as if I were actually standing right next to him or her.

The discovery I made in a Washington D.C. hospital bed transformed my career. I left the hospital four months after the accident, crippled, on crutches, but a tool sharpened a little better to do the work that lay ahead.

There have been other fires in my life, of course, and in every case it has seemed at the time that no conceivable good could possibly come of it. This last time the name of the fire was cancer. In 1959 a great pain sent me scurrying for an X-ray which revealed the presence of a large tumor, not in the solar plexus, where the pain was, but seven or eight inches above and a little to the left of center. Tests proved it malignant.

Fear has an antidote: hope—and this is what came to me now in my cards and letters from every corner of the country. “I pray for you every day.” “Keep it up, Arthur, we’re all pulling for you.”

A competent courageous surgeon removed the cancerous lobe, and here I am as good as ever. Not exactly as good as ever: a little better. For in the fire, subtle changes took place.

During my first 58 years on this earth, I took the gift of life a little too lightly. Now I resolved to use my time better. I became a student again: art, music, literature, French. I have diligently tried to do something about improving and/or eliminating my hostilities and prejudices. I try to contribute something every day to the betterment of mankind.

That reads kinda tritely stupid, but that’s the general idea. It could be,
y’ know that the Man Upstairs had a little something in mind. What if He wanted me to tell the millions who follow T.V. and radio that cancer is not necessarily a sentence of death? What if, through me, He wanted to put this list of cancer danger signals into your hands?

Why then, I can look back at my bout with cancer and agree with the blacksmith: the fires we pass through are not to burn us up, but just to make us worth keeping on this good earth a little longer.


1. Unusual bleeding or discharge.
2. A lump or thickening in the breast or elsewhere.
3. A sore that does not heal.
4. Change in bowel or bladder habits.
5. Hoarseness or cough.
6. Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
7. Change in size or discoloration in a wart or mole.”

God’s Word tells all of us that a good tree will always produce good fruit; and that a bad tree will only produce bad fruit. He says: “You will know a tree by the fruit that it produces.”

Success is long-term happiness and peace of mind.

Growth is happiness.

Productivity always produces happiness. The more productive you are the happier you will be.

God Almighty has given you a brain and the ability to use and develop it to the extent you desire to do so. He has gifted you with all of the talent and ability you will ever need to achieve His plan for your life. And finally He has given you all the resilience that will ever be required of you to overcome the obstacles that always crop-up in your pathway as you pursue your life’s purpose. What you do with all of these Divine Gifts and Blessings is entirely up to you….Your future has never looked brighter, and it is always in your own hands and under your own control.

It is not what happens to you that makes the real difference, but rather, how you react and handle that which happens to you.


Peace and Love to All of You………………………Poppa Bear

Facebook Twitter


The Fire or The Scrap Heap? — 6 Comments

  1. Dave, Of all your spirit filled messages this one is the best. So true “We are not disabled by a sickness or an injury. We are ENABLED with gifts and insights we never knew before”. Love, Bob and Nancy

  2. Thank you for sharing this story. I lost my little sister to the same thing that took Jan away. This story renewed myself to the “why” I am here and why I walk “thru” the challenges that come my way.

  3. Wow what a powerful message.Your sweet wife was so loved by so many.She lit up the room as she entered .Your sweet Jany touched many lives.Thank you Dave for this share.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *