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Point to Ponder: The Bad Example Makes a Good Point
Point to Ponder
The Bad Example Makes a Good Point
Everyone has a purpose in life, even if only to serve as a bad example. Here's the story of a little girl's daddy.
Jeb was a high school football star. He earned a scholarship and was the first on his father's side of the family to get a college degree.
He had a good job in the federal government and then moved on to a career with a telecommunications firm. By age 30, he was successful, and earning a good living. He got married and became the father of two little girls. According to folks who knew them, this was a fun home to be in; an attractive loving mom and dad with two cute kids. Always laughing, joking around, and doing things together. And Jeb was the funny and yet wise father.
The oldest girl took to heart the wisdom of her daddy. In the midst of funny stories and silly games, his wise words stuck with her.
"There are no short cuts in life."
"Talk is cheap."
"You can't move forward by looking behind you."
"When you come into the world you come alone; and when you leave the world, you leave alone. You meet people along the way whom you love, but if you don't take care of yourself, what good are you to anyone else?"
Jeb proved something that the Bible teaches through the life of King Solomon: You can have wisdom, and still be stupid. Wise, young, upwardly mobile, Jeb did something stupid one day,. He tried some drugs. It was just a relaxation thing; having a little fun with some friends. "Recreational drug use;" a misnomer for sure, because illicit drugs don't recreate anything. They create. They take a wise person and make him stupid. They take people of character, poise, and grace and create an irresponsible sloppy sluggard who lives for the next hit. Whereas before, they'd work hard and go anywhere to obtain the best housing and schools for their families; now they will go anywhere and work hard to get their fix, even if it costs them their families.
Jeb's recreational drug use became more and more obvious. The well-groomed funny guy with a keen sense of humor and wise words, became unkempt, sloppy, unreliable, and abusive. He was fired.
Then, only 12 years into their marriage, he didn't want a wife and family any more. He wanted to run, to do "his thing," and be free. His freedom cost him everything and yet he was never truly free. Just stupid.
The youngest girl saw her mommy's pain, caused by this mean fool. She despised him and disowned him. The oldest remembered him before he became a fool. One piece of his wisdom stuck with her: "Do as I say, not as I do." And she did. Jeb had a lot of wisdom and a bad example.
Rather than be angry and resentful over the example, she focused instead on what her daddy had said and had once known. She grew up into a wise young woman who remembered the lessons, which he himself had forgotten.
Toward the end of his almost 60 years of life, he seemed to be getting himself back together. He found work, even had a car for a while. She stayed in touch with Daddy.
And yet, as is the case with so many substance abusers, he talked about working on recovery more than he actually did it. A homeless alcoholic once told me, "You can tell when an alcoholic (or drug addict) is lying - his lips are moving."
Daddy's girl laid him to rest one day, a homeless man who had died on the street. A homeless college grad, with a good resume, a sharp mind, a keen sense of humor, a heart full of life's wisdom, and a bad example. Fortunately she could cull from him the wisdom of his words and learn from the example of his life. Sometimes the best thing another person can teach you is what not to do. Resenting them for making stupid choices will not help you. Perhaps wisdom on earth has its dark side, without which it would not be complete.
Look at the full moon at night. You can't see the dark side because only the side that reflects the sun is visible. But the dark side is there. One night you will see that side when it comes around into the light. With people, that doesn't always happen.
Jeremiah tells us "the heart is desperately wicked..." (17:9). Dark. Seeing the darkness in another can inspire anger and resentment in us. Yet we too have a dark side. Learn from what the Light has exposed to you - and in you. Even a bad example teaches a valuable truth.
Learn from what you see in others. What do you see in yourself?
"The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:22-23)
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship of Clear Spring, MD. These articles (and sermons) are also found at www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com. Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am; also on the second Sunday of each month at 11:30am.
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