Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own. Proverbs 26, verse 17.
I’ve been blessed to learn much in my forty-five trips around the sun. My journey has led me to be father to three of the greatest kids you’ll ever know. Life’s path has taken me to 49 of the 50 states (the straggler: Vermont) and twenty foreign countries. Three college degrees have certified me to be a true educated idiot; roll Tide, Forrest. And while I was at my weight minimum on entering the Air Force in 1985 (118 pounds), I currently top the scales at 190 pounds (though I did see 189 just the other day).
Know what? Much of those things mean a whole lot of nothing. After battles of depression, financial woes, job struggles, personal battles, identity crises, and a sometimes troubled spirit, the only real, lasting, and true wisdom I’ve found in this world comes from Scripture. That should be no surprise to you since you’ve been reading these proverbial these months together. Brooks and Dunn sang it best: “I’m finding more and more truth in the words written in red.” So am I, guys. So am I. Thank God for that.
And today’s words aren’t even written in red; they were written centuries before that time, yet aren’t they still good advice today? I mean, please tell me what good came out of the last time you got into somebody else’s fight? I’ll admit: I’ve done it. I’ve stuck my nose into other peoples’ fights and all it did was cause more trouble. It really is like grabbing a stray by the ears. That dog might be a gentle lap dog or it might just be an angry mutt gnarling to take a chunk out of your hand!
Besides, let’s admit another thing: do you really want someone else solving your problems for you? I don’t. I resent it when people butt into my life and try to fix me. An old friend of mine was someone like that, always telling me what was wrong with me and how I should fix myself. It left me feeling foolish, and a little ticked off. After all, didn’t she have problems of her own, proving she was less than perfect? And who was she to go along and judge me anyway?
In truth, she was just like me. Like it or not, though, we do judge each other. It happens, and too often we think we know the answers for the other guy’s questions. How else can we account for gossip and know-it-all’s? Again, I resent it when other people try to tell me what to do. I’m a big boy and I’d like to figure it out on my own. I don’t like it when other people try to rush into my quarrels; I can hold my own in an argument. I’m independent, I’m stubborn, I’m resourceful, I’m smart, and I’m talented…
…And I’m thinking that this is another good time to remember that I’m also finding more and more truth in those words written in red, that “I” is a risky pronoun. I’m finding more and more truth in realizing that, sometimes, people try to involve themselves in our quarrels because they love us. True, some people are indeed busybodies and, like my old friend, people who will gladly try to fix us while they themselves are still badly broken. In the end, we both need the Savior to do the fixing because His is an example of a situation where we couldn’t fix ourselves – we couldn’t resolve the quarrels – and we needed someone’s help to set things right. Without Him, we would be lost; without Him, we’d be holding the stray dog by the ears.
So, a life of learning, travel, experience, and even family has been a blessing. When compared to the wisdom of the ages that is God’s word, my earthly wisdom is meaningless. Yet every day here I consider to be a gift. Every day is something new and something to be thankful for, enjoyed, and celebrated. There is enough hardship in the world – there are enough angry dogs and selfish quarrels – that it would be all too easy to sidestep the real joy. During my next trip around the sun, I’ll remember more of those words written in red, and I’ll dance more in the music of His joy.