My Pop was quite a character. Until I was about 5 years old we lived a few blocks from them so I spent a lot of time there. Often, it would be just he and I hanging around the place. Small farmette if you will, on the edge of town, not sure how many acres, but doubt if more that 15-20. But, we would go from here to there, barn, out buildings, whatever he had to do or I wanted to do. Being a curious child, I frequently “investigated things” Now, this investigation often involved crawling about in and under shelves, trying to disassemble things, etc as kids often do. Imitating what they have seen the adults do. Pop rarely told me no when I started to get into one thing or another, he’d pretty much let me do whatever I took a notion, but would, well….redirect me if it was something dangerous and find some way to distract me so I wouldn’t hurt myself….well, not badly at least.
Well, one day, he and I were in the house, I had somewhere gotten ahold of a table knife/butter knife. Being the kid I was, I knew there was something that I needed to take apart, as I had already tried cutting with it and that did not work due to the blunt tip and edge, so I looked for another target of my inquiring mind. I saw it, the outlet. I was just finishing getting the outlet cover plate off as Pop walked in. He said, “Whatcha doin there boy?” (usually called me that) Me: “Fixin it” Pop: “You think that’s a good idea?” then, he chuckled. not a mean, evil laugh, but, a chuckle like he KNEW what was gonna happen and figured the show was going to be good. I did NOT disappoint him. So, I being wise, well beyond my years, knowing in my 3 or 4 year old mind that this was a good idea, put the knife into the outlet, well…tried, but nope, not going in the actual plug, then, I noticed a small gap between the metal box and the outlet, YEAH, it’ll fit there. And, yes, fit it did! AND…POW, sparks, smoke, and the fuse blew. I quickly jumped up, dropped the knife and did the “Uh, OH dance” Pop, then asks: “So, how did that work for you?” and he chuckled again. Me: “not good, not good.”
Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Proverbs 24:32
Ok, so I am gonna pause from my story and add some info on Pop. He often, during my explorations and, let’s call them, learning experiences, he would ask me what I was doing, then when I told him he would say, “You think that’s a good idea?” and chuckle. Now, it took me a while, probably way longer than it should have, to realize, when he asked me if I thought something was a good idea……it probably was NOT a good idea at all. And, to help reinforce that what he asked about and such did not go well, he had to ask, with my typical “Not Good” or similar response, then, he would chuckle. Not laugh like crazy, just a soft chuckle. Never chastised me, never punished me. Guess he figured I’d punish myself plenty with whatever poor outcome occurred.
Now, back to the story. I found out many years later, that pop always put very low amperage fuses in the box. I don’t know if it was because they were cheaper, or if he wanted to decrease chance of overload and electric fires or what. But, I kinda think he knew the fuse would blow before I got hurt. Well, blow it did, and, after my jumping and fussing he said, “well boy, lets get a new fuse in there before the rest bet back.” We go to the basement, down the steps, “uh oh, the basement light is on the same fuse as the plug, you wait here and I will get a flash light” and, Pop went back up the stairs. Leaving me at the bottom step. Pitch black, well except for the light streaming through the door he left open. BUT, it got worse, because, in the darkness I could hear a noise. It was alley oop. My uncles pet alligator. He had gotten in 3 or 4 years earlier at the dime store, maybe a foot long and it had grown. Now keeping it in the basement in one of those kiddie pools, with an enclosure around it. Seeing family photos since then, I realize Alley Oop was maybe 5 or so feet long, but, to a child of my age, I it may as well have been 20 feet long. Alley growled or hissed or whatever you call that alligator sound. I was scared. I absolutely KNEW that Alley was out of his pen and ready to eat me. Then, Pop was coming down the stairs as I was wondering just how horrible it would be to be eaten by the alligator. He had me hold the flashlight, changed the fuse. Alley was still in his pen and much smaller than the 20 feet I had imagined. We went upstairs, he put the coverplate on and no one else ever knew.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
Thinking about all those warnings I disregarded I realized Pop would also provide words of encouragement if I was doing something more beneficial and less risky. Rather than ask if something was a good idea, he would say, “Oh, you’re going to feed the chickens and get the eggs? That’s a good idea, I’ll help.”
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Well, now, I am able to look back and realize several things about this situation, and others that were similar, how I SHOULD have listened to him when he gave me gentle warnings. Not telling me NO, but suggesting I reconsider my plans, thoughts and actions. He never let me get truly hurt, maybe suffer a little pain, but no true injuries. Hmmm, now, who else may try to communicate with us and give us gentle guidance to choose a different path? Maybe He will let us use our free will and not prevent us from doing wrong, but won’t let serious harm come to us. But, also, in that regard, he was with me in the valley of the shadow, despite my not knowing, he was just at the top of the stairs, watching, keeping me safe. His rod and staff were the flashlight and his hand on my shoulder. Amazing how God uses life to reinforce scripture and to bring it to life so this simple human can better understand.
If I had been wise, or smart, I would have recognized the tone of voice and the meaning of the question. Not, really asking me if I thought it was a good idea, TELLING me it wasn’t, but I did not realize for a time. Sometimes, I don’t have the right ears or mindset to hear Christ speak to me. Sometimes, I hear Him and still think what I am doing or planning is a good idea.
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Matthew 11:15
And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: Matthew 13:14
Yes, I had ears, but did not hear, did not understand, I saw things that did not register in my mind. I did not have the ability to comprehend. Even though the sounds and sights were there, I was not in a position that I could make sense of the real message behind “Are you sure you want to do that?” Or the facial expressions that, looking back, were definitely saying, not a good idea there boy. Yet, because of my immaturity, I couldn’t connect the dots. Jesus is like that, He tries to give us gentle signals at times to steer us from harm, to help us avoid pain. When I was too immature spiritually I heard Him, but didn’t understand the messages. The ones He intended to protect me from harm and the ones to reward me spiritually for my efforts.
Yes, sometimes, as I am about to do this or that I hear Christ, with Pop’s voice saying: “You sure you want to do that?” I hope I finally get to where I needn’t hear that voice or message, but sure is comforting to know He is there to watch over me.
Thanks again, Hope there is someone besides me that gets some benefit from this.
Lord, I praise your holy name. I glorify you for your love and mercy. I thank you for all you have done in my heart. I ask you to continue working on me as there is so much that still needs done. I pray that you give me the ability to know and understand when you speak to me, when you try to warn me of possible problems, that I hear and obey. That I not put self in the way of hearing you in my heart. I continue to pray for my family and loved ones that you reach them and bring them to you. I thank you for your forgiveness and mercy of someone as unworthy as I.