Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2
It was an oops…a big oops. I was in my early twenties and life was good. I was enjoying my first enlistment in the Air Force, I was stationed not far from my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida but more importantly, smack-dab in the middle of the land of grits. I was engaged to the prettiest girl in town and we were both Jesus followers and involved in a local church. And that’s where it happened.
I have always loved music and most would say that I have a pretty good singing voice. It started when my Mama forced my oldest sister to let me sing “I Love You, Truly” in her wedding, I have had multiple opportunities to sing publicly—at least in my limited world. Later I would be a part of a couple of singing groups and so it probably isn’t surprising that I would provide special music at our church. So, here’s how it played out. Things are always pretty predictable in the services of Baptist churches. There would an opening song, someone would give a welcome and make some announcements, we would sing two more songs, take the offering (and sometimes the word “take” was very literal), there would be a special song and then the preacher would preach. After he got done (which could take a while) there would be a closing song and prayer. These things were so set in stone, they were printed every Sunday in the bulletin. You didn’t mess with the “order of worship.” If it wasn’t in there—we didn’t do it.
Sometimes, I would be the one who sang right before the message. I was usually pretty comfortable in front of people and that turned out to be a good thing because later on I would become the guy who talked for a long while. Now even though I was comfortable singing in front of people, each time it was still a little nerve racking. While I definitely can be the life of the party, I sure didn’t want to embarrass myself in from of a couple of hundred people. Well, one day I did…but not like you think.
On that particular Sunday, at the appropriate time, I went up to the stage and sang my song. I don’t remember the name of the song but I do know it went well. I know because it was one of those times I left the stage smiling. The people had enjoyed the presentation and I had enjoyed presenting it. All was well. So off the stage I bounded. Truth be known, I was probably feeling just a little cocky. I should have remembered that the Bible says, “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” But I didn’t.
My fiancée Judy and I always sat over by the wall and about halfway back in the pews. We were as predicable as the sunrise. So that is where I headed. It was a “zippy do dah” moment and when I got to the place, I sat right down and through my arm around the girl I loved. Only it wasn’t. I sat there for about four-seconds and realized something didn’t feel just right. I glanced over to my right expecting to see the face of my fiancée but instead I saw the face of the preacher’s daughter. Her face was a doing two things at once. First, she was smiling and second it said, “Why are you here and why do you have your arm around me.” Oops. I had missed my landing zone by one pew. There’s an old saying, “Right church, wrong pew.” It means you had the right general area but not the right exact spot. Well, in my case I had the wrong row and the wrong girl. I sheepishly stood and moved back one row. Right row, right girl.
So I bet you’re wondering what happened? Well, gratefully Judy wasn’t mad. I mean she could have given me the “what for” but she didn’t. The crowd, well, as you can imagine they were laughing and if I remember correctly, it all warranted a comment from the pastor who happened to be the father of the girl. Well, it all turned out fine, but it was definitely one of those times you don’t forget. As I think about it—I have had lots of those moments which means I have had lots of learning opportunities.
The lesson that day was, “be sure you know where you are supposed to land.” In my “zippy-do-dah” moment I had landed at the wrong airport. It was no deal because it was an honest mistake. No harm—no foul. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes our oops, especially the intentional or semi-intentional ones, can leave a mark or two. When you are a life of the party kind of guy it is too easy to have a laugh at someone’s expense. I’ve learned that in life it is easy to do something on the spur of a moment that can have a long lasting “oops”. Can someone say, “I bought a new car.” Can someone say, “Seven years of payments.” Smile.
Well, Judy and I have been married coming up on forty-five years and when she reads this she will remember and odds are, she will smile. I am grateful we have lots of days that cause us to smile and far fewer of the kind that cause us to wince in pain. That is called grace—extended and received. So, as you navigate through life and you’re preparing to land at your selected airport—make sure it is the right one. You might want to contact “the tower” and confirm His opinion of your intended landing site. It might save you some embarrassment and pain. You can always count on Him…He’s got this.