April 13th, 2009
Focus Text: Proverbs 13: 19 (NLT)
19 It is pleasant to see dreams come true,
but fools refuse to turn from evil to attain them.
Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead
I don’t remember the exact year or how old I was . . . probably nine or ten. Many of the key components of my social and spiritual upbringing occurred at summer camp. It was there that I experienced my first kiss. It was there that I heard the call of divinity upon my life to dedicate my existence to something higher. It was there that I met my wife. Yeah, camp was pretty influential to my development.
Waxing eloquently about camp as if all of my experiences there were deep or pure would be a bit out of line. Pillow fights. Random duct taping of individuals to trees. Fireworks thrown at counselors’ golf carts. Mice and frogs strategically placed in suitcases. Pranks of epic proportions. Now don’t get the wrong idea . . . I was not always responsible for what happened. Most times, events of mischief were not inflicted at my hands personally. . . but I was usually somewhere in the general vicinity and I would certainly lend my laughter to whatever angst my comrades and I had caused the poor camp staff.
These days, I would definitely just send kids home for what my friends used to do at camp . . . just a warning to any young readers.
That being said, I will never forget what happened at the pool one day. My brother and I were at camp together during swim time when the lifeguard made everyone exit the water. Lining the perimeter of the pool, the counselor commenced with a talk to all of the young boys. His topic? Urination in the pool.
He instituted a corporate interrogation of our little rag-tag group of swimmers . . . probably fifty or more of us listening as he made his demands. He asked all of us who had peed in the pool during the course of the week to raise our hands. No hands . . . no surprise. Then, he told us that he had a friend at the FBI who was coming later to test the DNA in the water and that if we didn’t tell the truth now, we would be expelled from the camp.
We were young; we believed him. One by one, like some demented Stephen King altar call, hands began to slowly raise high in the air. My brother and I panned around the pool to view no less than twenty guys raising their hands, admitting their liquid crimes. We were appalled . . . and slightly amused.
But here’s the kicker! The lifeguard then thanked us for our honesty and blew the whistle. As if no one had been paying attention to the urinary confessions made just a few milliseconds before, the entire group (minus my brother and I) leapt gleefully into the contaminated water like one giant collective cannonball. We just stood there in disgust.
Sometimes, knowledge of a problem isn’t the kind of deterrent you think it would be to keep people from jumping into “uncertain” waters. That’s what this passage refers to. ”It is pleasant to see dreams come true, but fools refuse to turn from evil to attain them.” Ha, to say pleasantness is a result of seeing a dream come true seems like an amusing understatement. In all honesty, having our dreams become reality is the chief goal of most members of humanity.
But I’ve noticed in my own life that often what is deterring me from my dreams is . . . well, me. My temper. My ambitious pride. My unforgiveness. My stubbornness. My lack of organization. My inability to see the big picture. My refusal to say “no.” My laziness in continuing to learn. I’m sure you could add to your own list. Sometimes, our dreams haven’t come true simply because the season isn’t just right yet. Other times, there is an issue that remains unaddressed . . . even ignored.
We must be willing to turn away from some things in order to reach other things. You can’t simultaneously grasp two large objects in the same hand. You have to let go of one if you’re going to pick up the other. Only you know what evil has contaminated the pool of your dreams. Unresolved issues. Grudges. Habits. Fears. Insecurities. The list goes on and on . . . as numerous as the little hands that slowly made their way into the air in admittance of their disturbing actions.
When we know these things, we shouldn’t just continue leaping into life as if everything is fine . . . that just ain’t right! We must get our pool cleaned out. Dreams are important stuff and to achieve them, we must realign ourselves daily . . . we must be cleansed and we must pursue purity in “P.H.” of our souls. I don’t mean spend your time introspectively torturing yourself over your faults; I mean we should realistically address where our trouble areas are and begin letting God and our fellow swimmers help us find our way back to clean water.
Turning away from evil is a turn towards good . . . and this good place just happens to be where our dreams are. Einstein defined insanity as the repetition of the same action with the expectation of a different outcome. If we keep jumping into nasty water, we can keep expecting disgusting results.
I never saw that FBI agent . . . I didn’t have to. I was already convinced enough to stop jumping. Are you?