Sticking my Fork in my Mouth (when I should have used my foot)
Today at noon I headed to Hewlette Packard to teach boot camp to my engineers (and might-as-well-be engineers). Most days, while we workout, another group from the firm trade in their Chinos and Polos for swim trunks in order to play the most uptight game of sand volleyball you’ve ever seen. This afternoon the volleyball team was nowhere to be seen, so I dragged my class into the sandpit for our sweat-session. After a series of jumps, sliding lunges, and upper body digs one participant joked about the holes we had created in the court. The joke turned into a full on banter of how upset the volleyball players would be if they saw all the damage we caused. We also dreamed up a number of potential pranks we could play.
I jumped into the conversation with: “we should fork them.” I continued with phrases like: “being married to a youth pastor, you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been forked” . . . and . . . “I can’t tell you how many mornings I’ve woken up to find I’ve been forked again” . . . and . . . “the cleanup’s not so bad, though.” Too late to even try explaining myself, I realized that the entire class was staring at me completely befuddled.
Turns out Engineers don’t fork. They had no idea that teenagers (and youth pastors) no longer TP, but prefer to cover lawns with plastic forks. Tail between my legs, I apologized for the previous imagery. My class, now laughing hysterically, insisted no apology necessary. “We know you,” they said. “We knew, or at least hoped, there was a logical explanation.” Leave it to Engineers to be logical.
Really, though, I was grateful that they considered both my words and character as they tried to interpret my sayings. In order to be gracious and merciful to one another, it is vital that we see beyond one’s words and consider who they are. We needn’t take to heart every tit and tattle of conversation. Each of us allows words to flow that need reigned in. Each of us desires for our character to overpower our voice. So we also ought to listen to the heart and character of others.
Even more so, God desires that we bring His character into every conversation. The snake in the Garden of Eden tested both God’s words (“did He really say”) and God’s character (“but God knows that if you eat of it, you will be wise like Him.) Eve forgot that God, by nature, can withhold no good thing from us, and so misunderstood his words (“He says we can’t eat or even touch it”). It is not enough to memorize scripture. You must know the God who spoke it into existence. His words and His character cannot be separated. Consider who He is, and you will know what He means.