A couple of weeks ago, I was at my parent’s country home near Perryton. There, you’ll find the best sunsets, and beautiful fields of wildflowers. We took a walk to the windmill, and as you may know, at this time of year the snakes are out in full force.
As we walked toward the windmill, we heard the distinctive sound of a rattlesnake. Everyone froze and we inched backward and “walked circumspectly” (Eph. 5:15) till we got around it. As we inched around the coiled snake, I could almost see the fear in its eyes. I’ve always heard that they are more scared of us than we are of them…we are giants compared to them after all. I had this realization that the snake didn’t want to strike us any more than we wanted to be struck.
As a young man, I would have quickly found a rock and pummeled it and chopped its head off. But this time, I just wanted to get to the windmill with the kids and enjoy an awesome sunset.
Later, as my mom and I sat by the pond, there were wasps buzzing all around us. We noticed that they really don’t mess with you if they don’t feel threatened. We joked about how people FREAK OUT when they see wasps though, as if they are going to relive the moment in the movie “My Girl” when (spoiler alert) Macaulay Culkin died of bee stings.
Man, people go CRAZY around wasps!!!!
In 2018, I was on a mission trip in Kenya, and while everyone was shopping at the market, one of our big, manly-men-type-of-guys and I waited for the rest of the group to finish buying trinkets. While we waited, a bee landed on him and he started spinning and swinging and hopping around. I died laughing…probably shouldn’t have…but it was just too funny. And as he was swinging around, the bee stung him right on the eyelid!
I’ve been wondering lately if some of the pain I’ve experienced in life or in leadership…not all of it, but maybe some of it…did not have to happen. Could it be that I jumped too quickly to squelch a situation, to preemptively nip something in the bud in an effort to keep it from becoming what it ultimately became due to my overcorrection? In my attempts to control a situation, did I inflame it, or even worse, cause it to happen? Did it become a “self fulfilling prophecy?”
Misunderstandings happen all the time, but what we do with those misunderstandings is where it gets critical. Do we freak out and use ultimatums and pigeonhole people into a decision that no one really wants and then point and say, “see, I told you that would happen.” It’s hard to admit that we may have had a part to play in an event that we felt victimized by, if even a small part.
Let’s look at that text from Ephesians
Ephesians 5:15-17 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
That word there…circumspectly…it’s not a word we use much, but it takes on the idea of “looking around,” “being cautious,” and “treading carefully.” The feel of the antonyms sound more like “run head-long into” and “bull in the China closet,” tromping around, or perhaps using phrases like, “just sayin,” at the end of sentences. We may feel vindicated in a moment of lashing out, but most of the time we regret it pretty soon thereafter.
Life is so much more about WALKING in WISDOM than about deciding between what is Good and what is Evil. A bit of wisdom can redeem all the time we lose in broken relationships and misunderstandings. Most of what causes us to over correct and create self-fulfilling prophecies lies in our FEARS.
So the question is this: what are you afraid of? Have you been overcorrecting? Over reacting? Have you been walking more in faith lately, or more in fear? Ultimately, have you been “swinging at the bees?”
My challenge to myself and Christians everywhere for the week is: when you hear that old familiar rattle, pause…make a mental choice to not freak out, strike back, or vindicate…take a breath…then walk circumspectly, not as fools, but in wisdom. And as James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all…and it will be given to you.”