Sitting out in the parking lot before school began, sometime in the mid-1970s, I hung out with a friend named Victor Oates. We were enjoying the new sound system in his bright yellow 1957 two door Chevy. His car was the stuff dreams were made of, in that he and his father had restored it themselves piece by piece. Working as time would allow, it had taken them years to bring it to this point. So as the music played, we laughed, talked, and just hung out. After a while a fairly new song came on the radio and I began to sing along. About halfway through the song Victor turned down the radio and looked over at me. I was well into the song and in the middle of the chorus when Victor busted out laughing. Not sure what he was laughing at, I inquired by simply looking at him and saying “What?” Sing that part again he said with a smile. And I did. Beginning to chuckle he said, “You know this song pretty well, don’t you.?” “Not really”, I responded. “No joke Jimbo, as if I didn’t know”, he laughingly continued. I may not be able to carry the tune, but I know the words of this song. Turning back up the radio he mouthed the words as the song played. Sure enough when it got to the part where I thought it was saying “Eat a hotdog”, it was actually saying “Do the hustle”. Now don’t ask me how I heard eat a hotdog in those lyrics, I can’t really tell you. But that’s what I heard plain and simple. To this very day I am teased about that lyric mix up. My wife seldom misses an opportunity to remind me, as she inevitably sings, “Eat a hotdog!” as Van McCoy’s The Hustle is playing on the radio. Pretty funny, that wife of mine.
I wish I could say that this was the only time I misunderstood what someone was saying, but unfortunately, I seem to fail in this area with regularity. Once, a few years back when I was really beginning to press in and seek the Lord in greater measure, I thought I heard the Lord saying to start a bible study. So I did. I invited people over and we met and studied, then prayed. But it was not planned very well, and I really didn’t have a direction. Soon no one came. After a few days of my head held low, The Lord pushed on me hard on why I was so down. In my prayer I said Lord You told me to start a Bible Study and that’s what I did. Why did it fail? I didn’t tell you to start a Bible Study, Son, He spoke in my heart. I told you to start studying The Bible. Oh, I thought to myself, that’s entirely different. Picking up The Word of God, I found instantly I had a thirst to read it. At The Spirits encouragement the pages consumed me and in short measure I had read The Bible cover to cover. And it didn’t stop there, accounts and stories from the Old Testament fit perfectly with The New Testament as the references and foretelling’s made such sense to me now. I had been raised in the church. I attended every time the church doors were open. I had been to church camp every summer the entirety of my youth. Vacation Bible School, check, Interdenominational services, check, in fact I can’t remember any time I might have missed a gathering of God’s people. But in all that time my mind wasn’t as open to the understanding of the Fullness of God’s Truth until then. It’s not that I didn’t know the stories and accounts in The Bible, I did. I had been taught them from the day I was born. But now, I understood them differently. I began to understand them on a deeper level. A level that impacted the way I perceived and understood other things. My relationship with God, and how that impacted my marriage. How a wife is more than just a bride to her husband, she is a reflection of God’s Glorious purpose in our lives. I saw myself as the recipient of the most precious of gifts, forgiveness. That all people are broken and in desperate need of someone who can make them whole. That people do the best they know how. And that a Loving and Kind Savior has come to save that which was lost. Inviting all men and women to join Him in the work of the Kingdom through Salvation by believing in the Name above All Names, Jesus Christ. I also learned that there would be times that my human understanding could not grasp all that God was at work doing around me. I discovered that even in the storms of life God has called me to be still and know He is God.
I may not be able to understand the people around me all the time. But I serve a loving God who understands me better than I understand myself. He looks to my needs and supports my growth. He is never late, but always on time.
One of my favorites verses comes from Proverbs 3 and it says: Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
I pray you allow God to make straight your paths as you lean on Him, not your own understanding.