So last wednesday, I got an email from an old and very good friend, Rob, who announced that he had come unexpectedly from Thailand to Honolulu for a week or so to work on a business plan and spend time with his brothers asking of I wanted to pop over for a couple days. I’ve been here in Kona (on another island) for a few months without leaving and needed a break. Instantly I made my mind up to get a ticket and head over. “People over projects” is a good motto for making those types of decisions in my opinion. Work will always be there… Always.
As is the case when we connect with old friends, we go through mutual acquaintances and exchange information and speculate about people and current events. Maybe some of it borders on gossip. Maybe it’s just relating. So lets say something comes up, “Oh that’s right, he moved there with her and dropped what he was doing. Do you think that’ll work out? What happened to that thing he’d been working on all that time?” or “so your brother is doing what? Has he always been like that or is this something new?” or “Man, I got myself in trouble with that. Do you think she’ll come back around or is it over?” or “He said he’s turning over a new leaf. Do you think it’ll stick this time?” or maybe, “Do you think I’ll ever be able to quit or will this be a battle until the day they put me in the ground?” We look for patterns hoping for solutions. We think about the future.
We talk about things, sometimes pray about them. Mostly it’s about us, trying to navigate the waters of life and make good decisions with less collateral damage. The older I get I have less desire to see years fall away on things that amount to nothing more than another tutorial going, “Hey everybody! Here I am again showing you how NOT to do it!” One thing’s for sure though, there is nothing like a good friend to help process it all.
When it’s you making any given decision, you get feedback and it’s important to take counsel, but in the end, we all stand before God alone. You may or may not “approve” of my plan and I may or may not approve of yours, but, in the end, time is the tester. There are lots of things that come out of the gate looking crazy, but how many of those things turn out to be successful in the end despite all the warnings to take the conservative approach instead of the risk? Then of course we see plenty of “good plans” turn into disasters over time. The good plan turns out to be the enemy of the best one.
One scripture came to mind I thought related. It’s the one in the book of Acts where some guys are trying to control other guys and maybe you know the story. The leader of the Pharisees who wanted to attack the apostles presented this as an option for dealing with the situation and I think there’s a lot of wisdom in it.
“…in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
What a great philosophy. No matter how crazy or “off” something seems, and as long as it’s not a toddler walking toward a busy road, does it hurt to just leave it alone? It goes both ways. Sometimes you’re the one stepping out and at others, it’s me. Time is the tester and time will tell if it was a good idea or not. We all know holding a grudge can change the look of a person over time. It can age and wrinkle the face, hunch over a back, and contributes to health problems. Time lets the fruit grow and be seen.
So what do I know about the ways of God in another person’s life? How many times have I thought I knew what was going on and later been slammed down with proof that I hadn’t a clue? Answer: Plenty.
Here’s Jesus’ response to the people who said John the Baptist was demon possessed and called Jesus a friend of drunkards and sinners.
“…wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
So, bottom line? I can speculate about others all I want and people can speculate all they want about me, but maybe the best course of action is none at all. Time is the tester and the rest will come out in the wash…
Believe the best about people and leave the rest up to God.