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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In a ditch? High-ended to boot?

My pastor aptly states, "Wisdom is not what you know, but what you show."  I cannot think of a better way to describe wisdom.  Many think wisdom comes with age - the older we are, the more wise we become because of what we have experienced.  Not always true!  Sometimes we can experience the same "bad" events over and over again, never learning anything from them!  There has been no learning - so there is nothing new to "show" from the event.  It is likely to be repeated until we learn to "show" what it is God desires to see!

The wisdom of the wise keeps life on track; the foolishness of fools lands them in the ditch.  (Proverbs 14:8 MSG)

The writer of Proverbs gives us two scenarios - one of a life which seems to be on track, the other of one which leaves us stuck in the ditch.  As a teenager, I took driver's education classes, but never got my driver's license until I entered the military.  Needless to say, when I finally held the shiny little card in my hand, I was anxious to show the world I could drive!  My friends and I were out one day, enjoying some time at the lake.  I guess my pride got the best of me, not to mention my unwillingness to admit I had never had the opportunity to drive more than a couple of "training" vehicles while in high school!  So, when the keys of my friends car were offered to me, I scampered behind the wheel, charged up to "show" my friends just how good of a driver I was!

The gravel road laid out in front of me as I accelerated into what would turn out to be a wild ride!  With dust flying high in my wake, tunes blaring on the radio, friends yacking about what to do next, we made our way down the road.  Little by little, I began to accelerate until I was doing close to 50 on a road which would have been best maneuvered at a speed of about 30!  Do you ever find yourself gradually "accelerating" into "danger zones" without really knowing you are "getting close"?  Well, I do!  That day was just one of the more salient examples.  

As you can imagine, I misread a curve, over-corrected and landed my friend's car in the ditch.  Some folks call it "luck" that no one was hurt - I call it God's grace and mercy!  We were stuck!  All because of my doing.  To make matters worse, we were not only in a ditch, but we were "caught" on a mound of dirt, high-ended in the ditch.  Not only were we in the ditch, but our tires were not touching the ground!  Not an easy place to get any "traction" to get out of the ditch!  Sometimes our misadventures in life get us "high-ended", unable to get any "traction" to get out of the fix we got ourselves into!

Thank goodness the car was filled with people!  At least we had enough muscle power to push the car out of the ditch.  But...we had to get its wheels on the ground again in order to get a start on getting it out of the ditch!  The folly of fools is kind of like being not only in the ditch, but without wheels on the ground!  This "fool" learned a lot from this most humbling of moments.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I found all kinds of excuses for why we ended up in the ditch - most of which pointed the finger somewhere other than at me!  The fool learns quickly to shift blame - assuming others will not see through their feeble attempts to cover-up their wrong actions.  

We eventually were back on the road, and I found it quite amazing to hear my friend actually tell me to drive us home!  Here I had landed them all in a ditch, high-ended her car, and put us through about another hour of agony attempting to free the vehicle from the mound of dirt and the unpacked gravel of the ditch - and she was trusting me to get them home safe!  I am not so sure this would have been my response, but she somehow saw through my shame (cleverly masked by all my excuses) and trusted me to "learn" from this moment.

It was not until the next morning when she went to drive to work, recognizing an empty gas tank and a strong smell of gas vapors around her car, that we discovered the "damage" of my folly.  Yep, a hole in the gas tank!  Thankfully, the guys we knew from the barracks were able to fix the leak, but the "patch" would always stand as a reminder of my folly!  Try as I might, hidden from the view of the public, it still was there to remind me of my escapade.  I lived with the fear the patch might not hold, it could cost me hundreds of hard-earned cash to fix, and I would have further inconvenienced my friend by having her car laid up for another period of time while repaired.  

Sin is often a result of our folly.  We set out on some venture in life, most of the time without any real thought, and find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of a muddle before we know it.  In those moments, what we do with the mess we are in makes all the difference!  It determines whether we will "show" wisdom, or just proclaim to have learned our lesson!  Just as the gas tank held the patch, our lives sometimes hold some pretty significant patches, as well.  At best, they are just that - patches.  There is always the "niggling" feeling the patches may not hold.  After all, patches are not only unreliable, they are also a little bit of a painful reminder of what went wrong!  As long as we focus on the patch we can "work out" in our lives, we fail to ever want to have the "fix" which will be permanent and reliable - God's grace.

Yep, the fool ends up in the ditch!  The place where traction for correction is hard to find.  The place where unrealized damage can occur - often not discovered until later.  Yet, when we admit our misguided actions, seek to have the "damages" permanently fixed by the one who put us together in the first place, and then begin to "navigate" life by his leading, we begin to "show" how wise we have become!  Just sayin!