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Foolish Things

February 4, 2009

If you really want to insult me, call me a fool.  If there’s one thing I’m not, it is a fool.  I learned generations of common sense from my Dad, I am constantly absorbing information, and I watch people (virtually, or in real-time) to absorb helpful insights on life’s greatest mysteries.  It’s been said that experience is a great teacher.  But better than learning for oneself, it is good to learn from others.  I do this.

However, in my lifetime I’ve done some stupid and foolish things.  Usually my judgment was clouded by lust. Whether it was a pretty car, a pretty woman, or a pretty good excuse, I’ve managed to have my judgement clouded way too many times.  I’m embarrassed by how many times I’ve fallen flat.  Usually I learn, but when I repeat the mistakes, I’m even more humbled.  Why would anyone repeat the same mistakes?

Why would we do the same thing over and over again, but expect different results?

However, some of the things I’ve done in my life have seemed to be foolish, but turned into some of my most proud moments.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have foresight to know how they would turn out – so stepping out was an act of faith.  Leaving the emergency services field was challenging, and for may years I regretted walking away from the security, but now, in retrospect, I know I’ve never been happier.

Financially, it was a dumb move to quit when I was eligible to retire just 13 years later (I’d be retired now).  From a career standpoint, I was a rising star and there were bright horizons ahead.  From a stability standpoint, I gave up the one thing that had remained constant in my life.  From the standpoint of a single, young adult, my standing as an eligible bachelor dropped several rungs when I essentially became a homeless and unemployed student.  There are few things that would lend any credence to this being a wise move, and yet, it turned out marvelously!

I’ve been really content, joyful really – more than I have in years

There have been times in my life when I’ve ignored that still, small voice – and usually this leads to greater heartache and disappointment.  Either I’ve been too busy, stressed, or tired to hear the voice, or I was just selfish and arrogant.  However, in the last week or so, I’ve felt particularly attuned to the Spirit’s leading.  As I’ve listened, I’ve seen joy in my self and others – it has been a good week.  I’ve been really content, joyful really – more than I have in years.

Much of this awareness comes from a more balanced approach to life, more time in prayer and meditation, and a willingness to obey a leading greater than my own heart.  As I mentioned, if left to my own desires, I am prone to great failure.  But tuned to a Higher Power, I see great things occur.  It is really fun.

Last night I fulfilled two promptings.  One was to visit a hospitalized friend and the other was to make amends to a Costco store manager.  This morning, while spending some quiet time, I felt a deep urging to not go skiing today.  If you know me, you know I will never turn down an opportunity to go skiing.  It is my #1 most favoritist thing to do – eva!

But this morning, it was clear.  Don’t go skiing.  So, I didn’t.

I still fulfilled my obligation to meet with the kids before they went, but I politely excused myself from a day that promises to be a great day.  The sunrise over Mt. Hood was awesome this morning and the snow/weather reports were good.  I wanted to go, I was halfway dressed, and had all my stuff together.  I just know that it would be wrong for me to go – and I don’t know why.  Maybe I’ll know someday, maybe I won’t – I don’t know.  I do know that it isn’t my role to question these leadings.

As I drove through Scappoose this morning I saw a woman scraping ice off of her windshield with a credit card.  I was immediately struck with the thought that I should stop and let her use my ice scraper.  Then my cynical brain kicked in and argued that her struggle will help educate her to be better prepared and to go buy a scraper – like I did 15 years ago.  Then, much to the surprise of my cold-hearted self, I made a U-Turn, jumped out and scraped her windows for her.  What!?

Years ago, I was on my way to an important meeting.  As usual, I was running late.  As I drove out of Sellwood and headed up Johnson Creek Blvd, I saw a man in a racing wheelchair along side the road.  Every once of his body screamed defeat.  He was hunched over, parked in the gravel.  I immediately knew he needed help, but I was late and on a mission.

For two blocks, after I passed him, I had a raging argument going on in my heart:

“Go back and help him!”

“No!”

“You have to!”

“No I don’t.  It’s not my problem.”

At the top of the hill I made a U-Turn and went back to offer help.  He told me he was training for the Portland Marathon and had gone into downtown and back.  Going up this hill, he lost his steam.  He had been sitting alongside the road for about 20 minutes, praying for help.  I was the first to stop.  I lifted him into my truck, put his wheelchair in the back, and drove him about a mile to his house.  The whole way, he kept telling me I was an angel sent from God.

I would like to learn to make these choices before I have to make a U-Turn.

“But,” you may say, “this morning, you did.”

The problem is, I’m not so sure that is true.  What I do know though, is that it is always good to be obedient.  It is best to be immediately obedient, and it is good to be late, rather than not at all.  However, I still have much to learn.

I’m hoping that through continued practice, I can learn to be a better listener.

PS: Henry Blackaby says that obedience always has a cost.  Not just to ourselves, but to others also.  Our choices affect others – sometimes for the good; and sometimes for the bad.  But, obedience always has a cost.

Today, I’m pretty sure that some will judge me unpredictable, some will say untrustworthy, and some will not understand.  I will do my best to explain, but I’m not sure I can explain it any better than what I’ve said here.

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