October 9th, 2008
Focus Text: Proverbs 5: 21 (NLT)
21 For the Lord sees clearly what a man does,
examining every path he takes.
Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead
My entire adult life, either as a public school teacher or as a youth pastor, has been spent in the presence of teenagers. As the years pass by, one begins to notice trends among the youth culture. For example, in mid-October, students begin getting more and more weary as the days grow shorter and the pressures of school pile high upon them. Bags under their eyes and solemn expressions reveal the pressures of grades and the unattainable Fall Break that will never get here. The second week of December is a nightmare as final exams rob students of their wills to live. Summer, on the other hand, brings a season of complete freedom. They are generally in better moods and are constantly looking for activity in their few, limited months of liberty. The life and times of teens are definitely observable through the various seasonal changes throughout the year.
No season brings more drastic changes than the arrival of spring. Long sleeves and hoodies begin giving way to t-shirts and shorts. Boots are put away in the closet and sandals are strapped to white feet, yet to be tanned by the summer sun. It’s not just a metaphor– there is an obvious physical change in the demeanor of students when spring begins springing.
That’s when it happens. Some call it Spring Fever. Call it what you will, but I call it hilarious. It’s as if with the melting away of winter’s icy grip, inhibitions fall off their shoulders and they instantly become bold romantics. Left and right, couples begin spontaneously popping all around like mold spores in an forgotten glass of old orange juice. Young men who are normally terrified of their own shadows are suddenly endued with unexpected fearlessness, approaching and speaking with the opposite sex as if they were not, in fact, the most insecure creatures on planet Earth.
Prom dates are secured. Relationships instantly blossom only to be mowed down the next day by the razor sharp, spinning blades of cruel fate (or a guy with a nicer car.) But like dandelions, new romance sprouts up the very next day. The cycle of hope, heartbreak, and healing leaves the head spinning.
In a nutshell, everyone’s crazy!
Humorous as it may be, it is not always harmless (although sometimes it certainly is.) Anyone who knows me knows that I do not endorse flippant dating just because it’s March and everyone else has a boyfriend. Yeah, that can’t end well. But all joking aside, there is a truth to be extracted from these observations of spring’s freeing effect on the heart. That truth is that feelings of romance cloud one’s view of life.
When Laura and I were dating, it would not be uncommon for me to drive four hours from Knoxville to Clarksville just to take her to dinner. After a late movie or dessert at a restaurant, I would leave Clarksville at an ungodly hour and spend the entire night traveling back (losing an hour when I crossed into Eastern time) just in time to make an early class back in Knoxville. During those nocturnal journeys, I would often be so exhausted that I would open my moon roof and cup the air from outside with my hand, diverting it into my eyes to keep me awake. When that didn’t work, I would roll up the windows and turn the heat on full blast . . . then the air conditioner full blast . . . then the heat again. Shocking my body from hot to cold would help somewhat. I would turn the radio up all the way and scream at the top of my lungs to keep from dosing off.
Now, just for a moment, imagine that you saw me driving down the road . . . radio full blast, hand out the moon roof, screaming like an idiot, shivering and sweating at the same time. You would assume I had lost all my marbles! Truth be told, I was a man in love and no amount of idiocy was too great. Just like all the teenagers I see every spring, I was crazy!
Someone once said that love is blind. I disagree. Love is more blurry than blind. Or perhaps it’s nearsighted, only seemingly seeing clearly when someone is extremely close in proximity. Whatever optic disorder we choose, we can at least admit that when it comes to issues of romance, sex, or relationships, we don’t see things clearly.
That’s the continued context of this passage. Remember, the fifth chapter of Proverbs is all about avoiding the door to sexual temptation. Knowing our propensity to act like complete morons when it comes to this issue, Solomon tells his son (and us) a key truth to help with the Spring Fever: “the Lord sees clearly.”
It may not be spring, but we know it’s coming: the moment that “the fever” begins manifesting its outrageous symptoms in our lives. Is it wrong? No. Hey, I’m glad that you guys like the opposite gender– that’s a good thing. Just remember, though, that your eyes will be blurry. Therefore, as always, the key to avoiding life-altering pitfalls is to trust your romantic future to the One with the 20/20 vision of life. In most cases, He will place people in your path (parents, pastors, mature friends, etc.) who may see the situation with more clarity than you can muster in your current condition.
God sees the right path, even when . . . especially when . . . we don’t. He’s watching you and He’s interested in the decisions you make. I pray that we will have daily “eye” exams to make sure we find the right paths.