The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Proverbs 1:7
Rule number one—it is never a good time to curse God. Tonight, as I sat out by a fire crackling in our outdoor fireplace, my neighbors were teaching their young son how to ride a bike. He is a quite the young man and he did well. Judy went over to help encourage him. There were cheers and yells as he took off and rode maybe fifty yards or more before he “gently” crashed in the grass. It all took me back almost sixty years.
I was about seven years old. I’m thinking that I had already mastered the bike riding thing, though I can’t be certain. For one reason or another, I decided I wanted to ride my brother’s 26 inch Schwinn bicycle. Now, if in fact I had already learned to ride a bike and this was just a new challenge—then that’s pretty cool. If I hadn’t mastered riding any bike—well, then this was a recipe for disaster. The bike was obviously way too big for me, but I was determined.
We had a road that ran in front of our house and that was where I was going to attempt this daring feat. Unlike my little neighbor next door, mom and dad weren’t there nor were any of my brothers and sisters. It was just me—and God. So, the best I could, I straddled the mammoth bicycle and promptly fell over. I got just a little mad. I tried it once again and this time the bike rolled forward a few feet and once again—it fell over—on me. I got just a little madder. By now I am muttering to myself. I’m sure it included “stupid bike.”
The third or fourth try, by now I had lost count, resulted in just another in a series of crashes. The frustration and anger finally boiled out. I shook my fist at God and yelled something like, “God, why won’t you help me.” What followed next is blurred in my memory, but I am pretty sure it came out something like, “God, I hate you.” It was spoken—it was shouted—hurled at the God of the universe. As far as I know it was the only time I ever cursed God. Somehow, in my mind, all of this was God’s fault. It didn’t matter that the bike was way too big for me or that I lacked the experience to ride such a large bike. All that mattered was in my mind God had intentionally let me down—literally—at least four times.
It was about then that I heard a voice. It wasn’t God, but that probably would have been appropriate since I had just major offended him. It was a female voice. At first I thought it might have been Mrs. Job. If you remember the story she told her husband, “Why don’t you just curse God and die.” But it wasn’t Mrs. Job. No, it was Mrs. Taylor—Mrs. Alston Taylor to be exact and I was about to die. From behind the hedge that encircled our front yard came, “Dewayne Taylor, I heard that. Don’t you ever talk to God like that again.” When mama called you by your first and last name at the same time—you knew you were in trouble. When she was talking about disrespecting God—you knew you were in double trouble—with her and with God. I was in deep weeds.
Well, once again the end of the story fades from memory. I am sure it didn’t involve me winning the war with the bike. I am pretty sure that there was more than a verbal rebuke from mama. I am certain that I learned a big lesson about God that day. The lesson is that God demands and deserves our respect—whether we are seven or seventy. The Bible teaches us “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.” The fear that the Bible talks about is not the kind of fear when you think God is about to zap you—even if you deserve it. No, it is talking about respect. God is worthy of our respect—He is deserving of our respect. Period.
The verse goes on to say that a foolish person despises wisdom and discipline. Another verse I’ve grown fond of is Psalm 14:1. It says, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” I mean, I think it is pretty foolish to write God off, but there is something more here. The words, “there is” were added by the English translators to make the verse flow a little smoother. The verse in the Hebrew literally says, “The fool says in his heart, No, God.” Whoa. It is a bad idea to tell mama no, but it is really, a bad idea to tell God no. We need to write that one down.
When I told Judy what I was going to write about today, she asked, “So what did God have to do with you and the bike?” That’s a great question. But you know and I know we blame God for just about everything we don’t like—including when we fall off a bike, even one we had no business trying to ride. So, let’s learn a big lesson from seven year old Dewayne. One, don’t try something that is clearly a recipe for disaster. I mean trying new and adventurous things is awesome—but keep them in reason. And, never, and I mean never—curse God—especially if your mama is anywhere around. Just kidding. That is never a good idea. After my bike deal—maybe after your bike deal, when we are worn out and worn down, let’s pause and take a rest—in Him. And then let’s stop muttering and start whispering, “He’s got this.” He always does—in His way and in His time.