2017-07-13 / Opinions

Better to stand on the hose than to choose life where we could be influenced to the bad

By ROGER ALFORD
columnist

I ’m sure you’ve heard about the deacon who was admitted to the hospital. His pastor, of course, went to visit, and was moved with compassion when he saw all the medical equipment attached to the deacon.

The preacher stepped close to the bedside to offer whatever comforting words he could.

The deacon began to gasp for air, and frantically motioned for a pencil and notepad that were on the nightstand. The deacon began writing, then, suddenly, he died. In the commotion, the preacher stuck the deacon’s note into his pocket without looking at it, and forgot all about it.

At the funeral, the preacher was delivering a glowing sermon about how kind, gracious, and encouraging the deacon was, when, all of a sudden, he remembered the note.

“As a matter of fact, I have his last words in my coat pocket here,” the preacher said. He pulled out the piece of paper, and began reading: “Please move. You’re standing on my oxygen hose.”

There are just so many things that could be said for that old joke. But, clearly, it would have been a good idea for that preacher to have read that note ahead of time. How many times have we been told we’d better look before we leap?

That old adage has kept a lot of divers alive.

Perhaps you’re aware of the professional divers in Acapulco who routinely leap from the 100-foot-high La Quebrada cliff into water that’s normally only about 13 feet deep. Tourists “ooh” and “ah” as the divers soar through the air toward the water below. The key to their safety is that they look before they leap, timing their dives to coincide with the incoming waves, plunging in only when the waves are at their peak, providing adequate depth to safely splash down.

When I was a kid, our high dive was to scale up a sycamore and jump from a limb no more than 10 feet above Brush Creek. The rule was always to look before we leaped, because there was always the danger of landing on another kid splashing around in that murky water.

A man named Lot in the Old Testament jumped into a terrible mess one time because he didn’t consider the consequences. He faced a decision about where he and his family would live, and did he ever make a poor choice.

“So, Lot chose the entire Jordan Valley for himself. He lived in the cities of the valley and set up his tent near Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were evil, sinning greatly against the Lord” (Genesis 13:11, 13).

Lot may as well have jumped from a cliff into a pool of crocodiles as to have chosen such a place for himself. His decision would cost him dearly. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah ended up being destroyed. And you might recall that Lot lost his wife there as he fled with her and their two daughters.

Lot’s life is a lesson to us that we need to weigh the consequences of every decision we make. The places we choose to live and the people we choose to live near can have eternal consequences.

The truth is, it’d be safer to have the preacher standing on our oxygen hose than to choose to live in places where we, and especially our children, might be influenced to the bad.

(Roger Alford offers words of encouragement to residents of America’s heartland. Reach him at rogeralford1@gmail.com.)

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