Wisdom or Impulse?
“My son, if sinners entice you, don’t go along with them . . . Their feet run to evil, they rush to shed blood.” Proverbs 1:10,16
I am grateful to Derek Leman for his insightful analyses of Scripture. One piece of insight especially caught my eye: “Life is full of regrets. Wisdom is acting from something deeper than an emotional impulse. But it takes time and experience to learn that lesson and apply it.” Oh, how I have learned this valuable piece of wisdom – of course from lived experience.
As Proverbs 1 shares with us, a mature, wise person will avoid the trap of impulsive sin and walk along the narrow road. Raised in an abusive home, I understand the pain of needing a ‘loving family’, anywhere that ‘family’ may be found. As a child, I sought that love from all the wrong sources. One road led me to the victimization of sexual abuse, which I never shared with another human being for many decades, through feelings of guilt. A second road led me to ‘arrest’ for theft. There is a story to tell here.
About the age of six, I asked to be involved in a local gang of boys, who roamed Queens Street, Toronto. In the late 1940’s, local gangs had a much different culture than they do today. This gang offered me the affirmation and confidence I was unable to receive at home and I grabbed onto the opportunity. After a month or so, I was told I needed to be initiated. The ritual – steal something from one of the street vendors in broad daylight. Of course, I wanted to impress my new ‘family’. I scanned the scene before me – rows upon rows of tables along the road offered up delicacies from around the world. I chose a fruit vendor.
Now, at the age of six I was perhaps four feet tall, probably shorter. My impulse to impress was so great, I grabbed the largest watermelon I could find. It was the heaviest piece of fruit I had ever carried. As I ran or more properly waddled along the sidewalk, I suddenly felt a vice clamp onto my shoulder, dragging me to a stop – unfortunately the watermelon didn’t and it carried on, slamming into the sidewalk, splattering the concrete with sweet, red pulp and juice.
The policeman told me I was ‘under arrest’ and escorted me, half walking & half dragging, to the local precinct about a block away. I was placed in an open cell, while my father was called. He was required to leave work and forfeit a half-day’s wages to collect me, which we could ill afford. During the hours I waited, at least 30 minutes, I wailed unceasingly, as I waited for the beating and yelling, which I knew was to come.
This time, though, there was no beating; there was no yelling; there was only silence, which for me was worse. As you may have gathered, because the memory of this event is so vivid, it had a profound impact on me. I left the gang and sought other friends, ones that were more positive.
I thank Yahweh, even today, for this learned experience; it didn’t prevent me from sinning but it did provide me with insight into the value of seeking peers who would be more positive role models. I thank Yahweh, Almighty God, that this event occurred when I was six and not sixteen, when the consequences would have been much more severe, although to a six-year-old boy, silence from my father was the greatest consequence I could imagine, as I waited for the ‘other shoe to drop’; it never did.
CONSIDER: Have you ever been or are tempted to follow the impulsive, broad road, to fulfill emotional needs? Are you tempted to ignore the small, still voice inside you urging you to take a step back and consider the consequences?
ACTION: Our emotional needs are quite strong, especially those that focus on affiliation, recognition and affection; the temptation to give into the call to fill these needs can be overwhelming. When presented with temptation, take a step back and, with intention, examine the consequences of going down that road. This will not be easy and we may need help. Prayer is strongly recommended.
PRAY: Abba, Beloved Father, help me as I face the temptation pulling on me. I cannot do this on my own – I need Your guidance; I need Your wisdom; I need Your strength. In Your Precious Name I pray.
May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.