“Gene”! – “What’s my name”!!! “Did you see that”? “Can you believe that”? “You’ve never seen anyone do anything like that before have you”?!!! I shouted to the general foreman working close by. The hulk of a man just shook his head as if to say, “You dumb kid.” I recognized the look… I’d seen it often enough in my short life, but like most of the other times I saw it, I ignored it. I was full of myself, you know the kind of “full” that really means “fool”? Yeah, that summed me up well.
I was proud of my work as a young man, proud of the quality and speed that I could produce. Of course at the time I never stopped to consider the gift of being taught and being gracious for it. No – I was young, dumb, and disrespectful. Yelling to point out my attributes to someone with more seniority was less than genius. Gene was old enough to be my dad and then some at the time. He was probably 6′-4″, 260 virile pounds at the time, but was a quiet and simple man with a simple life.
Gene knew my lifestyle at the time and my abrasive personality, but never said a cross word to me, just a few pointed questions to try to get me to think… a tall order at the time, fools don’t think. Gene spoke rarely but fondly of his family, wife and kids including his youngest daughter that was close to my age.
Knowing Gene’s pride for his children and my less than exemplary lifestyle, I thought it would be pretty clever and funny to ask Gene a personal question about his family… in front of two or three other crews. I talked so as to make sure everyone was listening, “Soooo – Geno”! … “Whatya say”?… (paused for effect) “Maybe I go out with your daughter”?
I didn’t wait for his response. I laughed, hard. So did the other guys on my crew close to my age. Gene didn’t laugh, he frowned. “So”! – “I should take that as a no”? we laughed again.
In truth, I didn’t mean to be disrespectful – just funny. The big man, who at the time could have broken me in half, tossed his remaining coffee to the ground in my direction, glared at me till I shut up, then walked off… Gene never asked me any more questions trying to wake me from my youthful ignorance and self-drunkenness.
I actually like Gene, he was a nice guy. He was also a wise man, he knew along with the ugly style I saddled myself with, I was also given to fits of rage… not a person too many folks want to be close to.
There’s a season for everything, I pray God’s mercy upon my season of weakness. There’s a partial verse from Matthew that rings through my head for different reasons and seasons, “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” While there are times when my flesh wants to resolve matters, the times like these reflections cause me to ponder judgments for that which I’ve reaped in my youth…
My soul winces when I read things like Proverbs 10:23, “A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.” And, 14:16, “A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.”
Hotheaded and reckless… Those two words are the words that can describe a good part of my life… In truth, I still struggle with them today… For those who’ve known me from those days know God has brought me a long way, and yet I still have a long way to go… How about you?
I’ll ask you like Bill asked us, what two words would best describe your weaknesses? Please share… and trust the fact that weaknesses are something we all have in common…
Along with forgiveness from Above.