Ten-year-old Phineas was up before the sun. He’d scarcely slept the night before and long before a sound was heard in the house, he was downstairs with his bag packed, ready to climb into the wagon. The year was 1820. And Phineas was about to see an island. His island, the island promised to him at birth. The day he was born, his grandfather presented Phineas with a deed, a sizable portion of Connecticut land called Ivy Island. And today, for the first time, Phineas was to see it.
Not every boy is born a proprietor. His parents were always quick to remind him of this. They urged him not to forget them when he came of age. Neighbors feared that the young landowner wouldn’t want to play with their children. Their concerns were legitimate. Phineas was different from his playmates. While they dreamed of fighting dragons he envisioned Ivy Island. Someday he would be lord of his own island. He would build a house, start a farm, raise cattle, and rule. When you own an island you feel important. Phineas had yet to see it.
He pleaded with his father to take him to his island and, finally, in the summer of 1820, his father agreed. Three sleepless nights preceded the expedition. Then, early that morning, Phineas, his father, and a hired hand climbed into the buggy to begin the long anticipated journey. Finally, Phineas would see his land. He could hardly sit still. At the top of each hill he would ask, “Are we nearly there?” And his father would encourage him to be patient assuring him that they were drawing near.
At last his dad pointed beyond a meadow to a row of tall trees stretching into the sky. “There,” he said, “That is Ivy Island!” Phineas was overcome. Jumping from the wagon, he dashed through the meadow leaving his father far behind. He raced to the row of trees into an opening from which Ivy Island was visible. When he saw the land his heart sank. Ivy Island was five acres of worthless snake-infested marshland. His grandfather had called it the most valuable land in Connecticut, but it was valueless. His father had told him it was a generous gift. It wasn’t. It was a cruel joke. As stunned Phineas stared, his father and the hired hand roared with laughter. Phineas was not the fortunate beneficiary of the family, he was the laughingstock. His Grandfather Taylor had played a joke on him. Phineas didn’t laugh, neither did he forget.
That disappointment shaped his life. He, the deceived, made a life out of deception and fooling people. You don’t know him as Phineas. You know him as P. T. You know him as the one who coined the phrase: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” He spent the rest of his life proving it. Such was the life of P.T. Barnum. (Gaining a new attitude on life; Max Lucado; 2007; Thomas Nelson Publishers) And such is the life of many who have been told lies. Disappointments have shaped their lives. The cure for disappointments is the Holy Bible. You can find more online at www.JoyChristianMinistries.com. Here's a link to find out more on P.T. Barnum.
Pastor J.C. Myers, III
Pastor J.C. founded Joy Christian Ministries in 1992. He was Sr. Pastor at Joy Christian Ministries in West Sacramento, California from 1992-2016. He was succeeded by his 2nd son, Pastor Brandon Myers who had been under his father's ministry and teaching for 39 years.