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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sargent Dan Moments

The French novelist Anatole France reminds us: "If a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing." We can certainly gussy up foolish thought and word as much as we want to, but in the end, it is still going to bring us into foolish behavior at some point! My best friend and I were eating at Bubba Gump's once while in Florida. I broke into my impersonation of Forrest Gump's conversations with Sargent Dan and before long, we were both cracking up about things. We had a moment of frivolity all because of a little foolishness on my part. While that didn't hurt anyone, nor did it send us down some terrible pathway in our lives, to use that same foolishness in a meeting of the Board members of our organization would likely be less than appropriate! Sometimes even the "good things" we engage in are a little inappropriate or "foolish" at other times. The most awesome part of the Forrest Gump movie is those "teachable moments" which came out of his life. He always loved, and he always "tried again" - despite the challenges. He never settled for being told it was impossible. It is good to constantly guard our hearts so that we "learn" to engage in those things (good paths) that are always appropriate, not easily taking us down paths we should avoid entirely (foolishness), and that are both tested and true in our lives.

The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise. (Proverbs 23:24 NLT) 


As a parent, I observed my kids "not listening" to any advice or instruction on occasion, leading right into them making less than "reliable" decisions. In those moments, was I particularly celebratory of their failure to exercise wisdom? Nope! Had I tried to steer them away from those bad decisions, either through positive example or sharing the lesson I had learned from similar choices? Yup! Were they going to heed my advice, or embrace the teaching from scripture they should have embraced? Nope! We sometimes know very well what should be done, or even hear many warnings not to do it, then go right ahead and exercise the poorest of judgment anyway! Honestly, I don't think wisdom is always "learned" in those moments when someone else tries to tell us what to do, but in having done some of the "unwise" stuff we have done and then God using those occurrences as "teachable moments" in our lives.

The important thing is that we are "teachable" - we take away something that keeps us from making those "unwise" choices again and again. Will we repeat them? It is quite possible we will, but when we really want to learn from what we go through, we rarely make those same unwise choices in quite the same manner. The outcome may appear similar, but usually we arrive at the outcome in a little bit of a different way. Even then, we are able to experience that "teachable moment" - beginning to understand we can get the same "negative result" from more than one pathway! There is more than one pathway to sin, but it stems from very similar roots - we don't heed warning - either written, spoken, or "prompting" warnings we might receive.

Over the years, I have accumulated a little bit of wisdom on some matters. Have I managed to complete the "lesson" when it comes to those matters? Probably not. The truth of the matter is that there are far more ways to "dress up" wrong decisions than we might imagine! In the end, it is the focus we maintain that actually helps us determine when a particular path may not lead us exactly where it is we want to go. Herein may be the greatest of all wisdom we can learn from God's "teachable moments" - that sin has many paths, but grace has but one. When our eyes remain steadfast upon the person of Grace - Jesus Christ - we begin to put the choices in perspective a little better. We might occasionally "slip up", but even when we do, grace is awaiting us at the end of that pathway. This is probably what amazes me the most - we can travel the wrong path, realizing the worst destination or outcome - but smack-dab in the middle of that we can still find grace. 

Yes, we need to learn our lessons from those teachable moments. Yes, we need to be "selective" about the path we choose, exercising solid wisdom and sound judgment as we choose. Yes, we will make wrong choices - it is part of our human nature. Yet, in the end, what will we learn from those choices? What will we take with us the next time we are enticed to go that similar direction? What is it we will do differently "next time"? These are perhaps the hardest questions to answer when it comes right down to it, but they can also be the most enlightening and rewarding. Just sayin!