Like everybody else, I have my share of trouble. It’s not that I want to get into trouble, but trouble always seems to be somewhere near where I am at the time. I regret that time when I was first introduced to trouble.
Some trouble I can't prevent. It just happens, and no matter what I do, trouble is in the room. I don't think there's anything I can do about that, but I hope the trouble will not be that bad.
I know some people in my family get into trouble on purpose. The grand goal of their life is to get into trouble on a variety of levels. Back in the day, when we had family reunions, this person, which will remain anonymous, did everything he possibly could to make trouble.
Most of the family just ignored him and forgot what he was doing. He wanted to be remembered as the family troublemaker. Actually, he was remembered as the family Goofball.
Another form of trouble is what people bring on intentionally. For some reason, they want to get into trouble, and get a lot of pleasure out of bullying.
I could never understand this bullying mentality. What does anybody get from bullying somebody else? I remember in school, several guys got a lot of fun out of bullying other kids.
That went on until Miss Ammon, the fifth-grade teacher, showed up. She had her way of unbullifying anybody that crossed her path. If she caught you, you were in more trouble than you could handle.
Also, there is the trouble I get in by making a mistake. I didn't mean to do it, but for some reason, I did it, and as everybody knows, there are always consequences. Usually, the consequences aren't worth the trouble.
I've had experience in just about all levels of trouble in one form or another. The steps on the ladder of progress and growth are trouble. If you can handle trouble, you then are progressing in your maturity.
As terrible as all of these things are, one source of trouble outweighs all others. It has taken me a long time to understand the dimensions of this kind of trouble.
What I’m thinking about at this point is my “tongue.”
This tongue of mine has been the most significant source of trouble and problems through out my life. As I get older, it seems to get worse.
A preacher friend of mine would talk about one of the older women in his church, and he said, "I often wondered if this woman ever had an unexpressed thought in her life."
I know what he means because I often wondered that about myself.
I have not yet learned that because I'm thinking about something, I do not need to speak it. Thinking doesn't get me in trouble; speaking gets me into deep trouble.
Sometimes when the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is speaking to me, I speak out loud without realizing it. Then comes the infamous, "What did you say?"
Whenever I hear this, I know I'm in some kind of trouble. Either I didn't hear it right, or I did hear it right, and I responded.
As a veteran husband, I should understand that she does not expect an answer whenever she asks a question. All she wants from her husband is a positive shaking of the head and a greasy smile.
I know this, but sometimes I forget. If only I could train my tongue when to speak and when not to speak. There are times when that old tongue of mine will wag and wag, getting me into deep trouble.
One morning right after breakfast, I was getting ready to leave when my wife said, “When will you be ready to do that job?”
I looked at her quizzically and said, "What job?"
She stared at me for a moment and then said, “You know. What we were talking about last night as we were watching TV.”
I had no idea what she was talking about. I could remember watching TV the night before, but I had no idea what the conversation was about.
“You don’t mean to tell me you’ve forgotten already?”
Last night while watching TV, she talked about some projects she had in mind, and I wag my tongue in affirmative action. She assumed I knew what she was talking about and that I had agreed to that plan.
If only my tongue had ears, I might not get into so much trouble.
Now, I need my tongue to wag in a way to get me out of the trouble it got me into while it was wagging the night before.
How many right wags does it take to correct one wrong wag?
It would be wonderful if my tongue were attached somehow to my ears. Or maybe, better yet, to my brain.
As I get older this seems to be more of a problem.
In my dilemma, I thought of a verse of Scripture. "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” (James 3:5).
Once you say something, it is impossible to unsay it. My tongue has got me into more trouble than all the other things in my life. But there's one thing about my tongue that can compensate for this. I can use my tongue to praise the God who created me.
[Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-216-3025 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.]