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“You idiot!”

Those were my words.  I used them just a few days ago while I was driving in Tulsa.  Actually, I  pretty much screamed them.  What would evoke, elicit, and trigger such a verbal outburst from me?  Upon sober reflection afterward, I realized that nothing did.  Oh, there was definitely something going on around me.  But, to say that the actions of someone else evoked/elicited/triggered my response would somehow place the blame for my choice of words somewhere other than squarely and solely upon my mind, heart, and emotions.  Yes, someone came within inches of sideswiping me while going 65 mph on the BA Expressway, but that near collision didn’t make me say what I did.  I chose to.

I reacted and spoke within an instant, so how does that qualify as a choice?  Jesus said that we speak from the overflow of our heart (Matt. 12:34).  Have you ever surprised yourself by something that you said, and then wondered (either inwardly or aloud), “Where did that come from?”  Jesus said, “I’ve got your answer.  It came from your heart.”  I decide and determine what I allow to dwell within my heart and mind.  Whatever I permit (choose) to let live there will ultimately manifest itself in my speech.  Looks like I’ve got some heart work to do.  Abusive speech (Col. 3:8) and outbursts of anger (Gal. 5:20) don’t conform to a heart that is being molded into the likeness of Christ.

Not only did my “idiot” comment give me an opportunity for a heart check, it also caused me to consider just how grossly unfair and judgmental it was.  My choice of words betrayed a willingness to reach a completely negative assessment of someone and pronounce a sweeping condemnation on the basis of a single action.  Granted, it was a very dangerous and potentially lethal situation, but whatever happened to cutting people some slack?  Who was this guy?  Quite possibly a very likeable fellow; perhaps a devoted husband, caring father, committed Christian, faithful friend, and a hard worker.  Wow!  Someone like me!  I think I just called myself an idiot! 

I, too, have made some bad decisions and exercised poor judgment at times; both while driving and with my feet planted firmly on the ground.  I definitely don’t want someone judging my entire character on the basis of an isolated incident in my life.  Jesus teaches me that I should be willing to offer that same grace and latitude to others (Matthew 7:1-5, 12; John 7:24).

Today’s post marks the end (perhaps) of an unplanned sabbatical from blogging.  “Life” has taken priority over non-essentials lately, and somehow Thinking Out Loud didn’t make the list of imperatives.  I will admit to feeling a brief twinge of conscience or two over the course of the last 3 1/2 weeks, a sense that I was neglecting something of importance.  But, I managed to get over it.  It was a good opportunity for me to recalibrate the place that blogging occupies in the “pecking order” of my life.  As Jesus almost said, “Blogging was made for man, not man for blogging.”  I should probably take self-imposed breaks periodically, if for no other reason than the humbling reminder that the lives of those who happen to read this blog continue to roll merrily along without the aid or benefit of whatever happens to be bouncing around in my head from week to week.  

Last weekend I had a “life lesson” impressed upon me by a couple of events. 

On Saturday, Kim and I returned home to the inconvenience of a garage door that wouldn’t open.  On repeated attempts, the door came to an abrupt halt about a foot off the ground.  After entering the house through the front door (which was weird for me), I went into the garage and confirmed my suspicion that we had a broken torsion spring.  Rather than procrastinate (again, weird for me) I immediately got online, phoned a repair company, and, in less than an hour, Chuck was there to save the day.  As Chuck was putting the replacement spring through a few test runs, I commented that, while we had a couple of springs to break during the 12 years in our home in Texas, this was our first garage door repair since moving to Oklahoma.  He commented, “Yeah, they’ve got a lifespan of about 8,000 openings and closings.” 

Really?  Who knew?  I certainly didn’t.  I guess I assumed if you kept the door and the opener properly adjusted and maintained that the spring would just last forever.  Apparently not.  Garage door springs have a finite lifespan.  Only so many twists and compressions and they’re done.

On Sunday, fitness guru Jack LaLanne passed away at the age of 96.  I remember watching his workout show on television when I was a kid and seeing him as a frequent guest on several TV talk shows.  LaLanne is considered to be a “father of fitness” in America through his tireless promotion of regular exercise, weight training, and healthy eating habits.  He definitely practiced what he preached.  LaLanne maintained his youthful physique and continued to perform remarkable feats of strength, stamina, and dexterity long after most people his age had settled into a very sedentary existence in their golden years.  He famously joked in 2006, “I can’t afford to die.  It would wreck my image.” 

No matter the strength of the steel in the torsion spring, it will eventually break.  Regardless of how much time, attention, and energy we devote to physical fitness, the human body only has so many years of existence in it.  A “lifestyle of wellness” will certainly contribute to a much happier and healthier journey through life, but the journey will come to an end nonetheless.   

“As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years.  Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away… So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:10,12).

Thankfully, “we” don’t end when our physical body ultimately succumbs to weakness, frailty, and mortality.  A heart of wisdom leads us to utilize our time in this life in preparation for the next, the journey of our spirit back to our Creator, and a coming Day in which we will be graciously re-clothed with a glorious body that is fitted for eternity. 

“Oh what a day, Glorious day, that will be!”        

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January 2011