Thursday, April 17, 2014
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LOOKING UP • JOE BAISDEN | When you have made a fool of yourself


A chance meeting with Joyce Stevens Cole and her husband Jim while at church in Abilene a couple of weeks ago brought a flood of precious memories of Joyce’s parents, the late Dr. and Mrs. John C. Stevens.  Janelle knew Dr. Stevens when she was a child growing up in Liberty, Texas.  He began to be a central character in my life while I was a college student in Abilene Christian in the mid 50s.  He was already in the administration of the school at that time, and went on to serve as president and chancellor before his death.
I continue to admire Dr. John as much as anyone I have ever known.  He was a master in the business of living and taught me so much about getting along in life.  Tucked away in my mind are myriad statements he made in my presence.  The following is an unusual sort of quote:  “Every man has the right, now and then, to make a fool of himself.”


Whether we have a right to do such a thing as that may be debatable, but hardly anyone in honest refection would question that we do, now and then, make fools of ourselves.  We say things we ought not.  We do things we ought not.  And we fail to do and say things that we should.  Blunders make their way into our agendas, no matter how hard we work to avoid them.
Dr. John’s statement did not end with the previous quote.  He added:  “It’s what a man does about his mistakes that is the test of greatness.”
What should we do when we make fools of ourselves?  The pattern for all time is revealed in scripture:  Luke 15:11-24.  What can we learn from the experience of the wayward son in the story Jesus told?  What did the Prodigal Son do when he became aware that he had made a fool of himself?
1. HE FACED HIS MISTAKE.  “When he came to his senses . . . “ (v. 17).  This is the turning point in the story.  Some feel that it is foolish to admit a mistake, but it is the only honorable thing to do.  “I have sinned against heaven and against you (his father)” (v. 18).
2. HE TOOK POSITIVE ACTION.  He did not just wallow in his guilt and grief.  “So he got up and went to his father” (v. 19).   Our folly is not made right by ignoring it, or feeling sorry for ourselves, or blaming others.  Victory over defeat depends upon facing our mistakes and taking right action to resolve the matter.  There is a scripture in Proverbs 28:13 that gives great insight into this dynamic:  “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
What was the result of the wayward son’s approach to his problem?  He found forgiveness and love.  He found a place where he thought there would be none.  He was prepared to be considered less than a son upon his return, but he found restoration in the father’s love.
When our foolishness leads us to the swine pens of life, we do not have to remain in that miserable state.  We can, like the Prodigal of old, face our folly and take positive actions to leave.  We do not have to remain in the wrong.
No matter how difficult it may be to turn our hearts home, it will ultimately prove to be an easier course than locking our lives in the error of our way.
“Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts, let them turn to the Lord and he will have mercy on them, and to our God for He will freely pardon.” – Isa. 55:7