The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.” Psalm 103:8
It was just a bad idea. Each of us have times when we do something and from the get go we know it was just a bad idea. Yesterday’s story of me at age seven trying to ride a 26 inch bicycle was just one of many. And these bad ideas usually bear the fruit of bad endings.
I have a really good friend who manages a local restaurant. Before COVID, we would get together once a week and have breakfast at the restaurant. Since COVID we still try and get together for coffee and perhaps a pastry fresh out of the oven. Suffering isn’t all bad, is it? Well, I was famous for ordering different things for breakfast. One was the delicious “preacher stack.” It consisted of a slice of toast, an over-easy egg, a slice of cheese, a couple of slices of soft bacon, a small serving of hash browns (cooked crispy, of course), a second egg and finally the crowning touch, a smattering of gravy. For variety the hash browns were sometimes replaced with grits. Now, let me tell you, that was “shoot that thing” good. I do believe I might be the Rembrandt of breakfast. Sometimes.
You see, one time, about midway through the fall season, I got an idea. Unfortunately, it was a very bad idea. Now the problem with bad ideas is that sometimes they look good from one angle and horrible from the other. Well, this time I looked from the wrong angle. I told my friend, “Jeremy, I have an idea. I think I want to try chili and eggs for breakfast in the morning.” Now being the good friend that he was, he tried and tried to get me to change course. But at that time and from that angle it really sounded good. The key word there is “sounded.”
So the next morning Jeremy cooked up a batch of chili and I was served chili and eggs for breakfast. The first and second bite wasn’t too bad—weird, but not too bad. From there it went down hill and by the time I was done—I was done. I felt like I had swallowed a 12 pound bowling ball and that bowling ball stayed with me all day. In fact, it was a couple of days before I felt half normal. It was a very, very bad idea. He tried to warn me, but no. Oh boy, just the thought of chili and eggs makes my eyes cross.
Well, today I had a nice, innocent bad idea. I usually walk in the mornings but Judy and I decided to walk in the afternoon. That was ok—unusual, but ok. And that wasn’t the bad idea. We were going to walk on the bike trail so I thought I would wear an old pair of trail running shoes I had in the closet. “Why?” Well, I liked the way they looked and I liked the way they laced up (they had these cool speed laces) but that’s where the love affair ended. They weren’t very comfortable and the inside of the heel had long lost its padding. All that was left was a crater where the padding used to be surrounded by rough edges. Everything said, “Don’t wear those shoes.” Well, you know what I did. I wore the shoes anyway and it was indeed a very bad idea.
I had planned on only walking a couple of miles but ended up doing 3.6. Somebody say “wow.” Well, at about the 1.8 mile turn around point I noticed that the back of my left heel was starting to burn—to hurt. Remember the padding that was missing—well, those rough edges that remained were now slowly eating into my heel. And with every step it got worse. I was almost two miles from the car and it hurt, and it hurt, and it hurt. I found myself saying over and over again, “This was a really bad idea.” The problem was I realized it just a little too late. Well, about 10,000 steps later, I got back to the car and the shoes and I parted company—forever. Even sitting there I said it again, “That was a really bad idea.”
Well, in a while Judy got back to the car from her walk. As she came over to where I was sitting and noticed I had my shoes off. She made a comment about resting. I said, “Judy, do you remember the time I ate the chili and eggs?” She said, “Well, yes, but what has that got to do with today?” I said, “That was a really, bad idea and wearing these stinking shoes today was a really bad idea.” To make matters worse, when we had started walking I commented how much I liked the shoes and she remembered that. “But Dewayne, I thought you said you liked them?” Well, I liked the way they looked, I liked they way they laced up, but boy, I didn’t like the way they felt after walking. And trust me—that outweighed all the looks and all the cool laces.
Well, I wanted to tell you this story for a couple of reasons. First, don’t, do not, eat chili and eggs. What it does to your insides requires the intervention of the EPA. If you eat chili and eggs be prepared for a period of quarantine. Be prepared to camp in the “valley of the shadow of death.” It. Is. A. Bad. Idea. And if you are going to walk, remember to pick your shoes based on what is important not what is intriguing or flashy. At about the two mile point you will thank me. Trust me, I know.
One thing that I really like about the Bible is that it is filled with people just like me. People who didn’t always listen to God and people who ate chili and eggs and wore the wrong shoes. Real, live, people who didn’t always make the best choices. The thing I like about God is that He is so loving, patient and kind. Even when Adam and Eve ate “chili and eggs” in the garden and then wore the “wrong shoes” to cover it all up—He still loved them and still provided a way for them to be forgiven. They tried to do it their way, but God didn’t throw them under the bus and start over. And guess what? He doesn’t throw us under the bus either, and I am thankful. When we come to Him with our “chili and eggs,” “wrong shoes,” whining and complaining about how we got the “blisters” in our life, He is patiently waiting.
He is always there for us…bad ideas and all. You will find the Whisper whispering warnings, “don’t got there,” and encouraging you to “go the right way” and “do the right things”. That’s just the way He is. You know He could have carried me back to the car yesterday but I think there was a lesson that I needed to learn and a story I needed to tell. I finished the walk limping a little, but also a little wiser. As I sat there resting in Him I decided no more chili and eggs and no more worn out, flashy shoes. And the next time I find myself two miles from the car—well, I’ll just remember, He’s got this.