My friend and I were enjoying a weekend morning run along Moore Road in Suwanee, Georgia, when suddenly a black SUV with two occupants came screeching to a stop right near us.
Startled out of our conversation and running rhythm, we heard the woman behind the wheel screaming at the top of her lungs at a teenage boy,
“GET OUT OF MY CAR! GET OUT OF MY #$!# CAR! GET OUT! GET OUT!”
The violence of her outburst shocked us both, and expecting blows to begin flying, we stopped, to intervene, if need be.
But a few screams later, the boy got out of the car, unharmed; the SUV roared away, and we, not knowing what to do, awkwardly resumed our run.
This not knowing what to do triggered a memory of something that happened when I was an 18-year-old freshman at Faith School of Theology, a pentecostal holiness Bible school in Charleston, Maine.
I unfolded the story to my running partner as we ran mile four…
Surviving Our Stupidity
Every semester all the students were sent out on “crusade” (seriously, that’s what they were called) to various churches and missions along the east coast, from Maryland to the Maritimes. On one particular crusade, I was sent to a potato farming community in New Brunswick along with two or three female students, and Bob, an upper-classman who led our group.
It’s funny that I don’t remember anything we did in a church setting on that trip. Typically, we might preach (badly), sing (worse), or share a personal testimony. What I do remember is picking potatoes in some farmer’s field, making five bucks for it, and receiving one, peculiar, phone call.
Not me, personally. Just somehow, somewhere, we received an urgent phone call, and I remember the words, “He’s drunk! And he’s got an axe.”
Why would we receive such a call, you ask? Why would anyone think the solution to a potentially deadly situation was to call up the visiting teen-aged God squad?
I have no idea.
This was a job for the police. But somehow, somebody thought they should call up a bunch of Bible school students to come over and disarm a big, belligerent, drunken, axe-wielding New Brunswicker (is that what they’re called?)
And somehow we thought we should all pile into a car and rush right over there!?
Well, maybe we had confidence in Bob, a big guy who was supposed to be some type of weight-lifting champion from Nova Scotia, I think. Anyway, I remember a hysterical wife (or live-in, not sure…), a big NBer who was clearly sauced, swinging an axe around carelessly, Bob talking firmly, and calmly, a bunch of Bible-clutching girls behind me praying, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” and me–not knowing what to do–wondering why I didn’t go to Texas A&M after all.
Somehow, Bob got him to put the axe down. No one was hurt. And that’s all I remember of the story. We probably hung around for a while trying to do something spiritual, but I honestly don’t remember. The memory was only triggered by the banshee mom screaming at her (I presume) son. I don’t think I’ve even told this story to Dawn before now.
But, if you ever send your son or daughter to a pentecostal Bible school you might want to prepare them for situations like this. You never know what a naive young pentecostal will try in the name of Jesus.
And that thought leads me to draw a few, valuable life lessons from the wisdom taught by survival.
Don’t Be Stupid
Bible students, especially female ones, did not belong in that situation. We should have called the police.
Just because God can, and sometimes does, rescue his followers from the messes we get into; don’t push it. Many a Christian has suffered great harm doing their own religious version of “Hey, guys watch this!” We call it “stepping out in faith.” We say, “I felt I was supposed to <blank>, and God worked everything out.” But if we’re honest, for every story we have like that, there is another where things didn’t work out as we hoped at all.
Let’s live with our eyes wide open to reality and the certainty that our choices bring consequences of one kind or another.
Don’t Be Falsely Spiritual
Contrary to stereotype, trusting in Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit doesn’t require anyone to act or think irrationally. Christian wisdom, is a treasure to be nourished, pursued, and practiced. Christian faith is calm and rational; it steadies the mind, and though it is bold, it distrusts the impulse of the moment. (Admittedly, some Pentecostals may not agree with me here, which is one of the reasons I left Pentecostalism.)
Let’s live with our spirits truly attuned to the the Spirit of Christ, who is Wisdom incarnate. And let us learn to reflect Him who did everything with steady purpose and devotion to God.
Don’t Be Faithless
The fact is that God providentially controls all things so that all things serve His greater glory and the good of His people. Thus, God’s plan includes and accounts for our stupidity. (And after all, who hasn’t been stupid a time or two?) So when God rescues us from the just deserts of our ill-fated decisions, that’s no excuse to continue in that path. And when He doesn’t, that’s no excuse to blame Him for our troubles.
Let’s learn wisdom; it begins with the fear of God. Let’s obey His will; it is clearly spelled out in Scripture. Let’s trust Him with the outcome of our choices; for He will not abandon us, though our average lives may fall short of our hopes.
God is great; even when life isn’t; even when you don’t know what to do.
- Why I Left Pentecostalism (Average Us)
- God’s Will and Your Big, Stupid Mistakes–4 Things to Remember (Average Us)
- The Facts and Fictions About Christian Faith (Average Us)
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