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The Irony of Unreturned Calls

August 20th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 1: (NLT)

24 “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come.
      I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.
 25 You ignored my advice
      and rejected the correction I offered.
 26 So I will laugh when you are in trouble!
      I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—
 27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
      when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone,
      and anguish and distress overwhelm you.

 28 “When they cry for help, I will not answer.
      Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.
 29 For they hated knowledge
      and chose not to fear the Lord.
 30 They rejected my advice
      and paid no attention when I corrected them.
 31 Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way,
      choking on their own schemes.
 32 For simpletons turn away from me—to death.
      Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.
 33 But all who listen to me will live in peace,
      untroubled by fear of harm.”

Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead


Yikes!  To be honest, when I first began reading today’s passage, I flipped ahead to chapter two and contemplated skipping these verses because they appear to be . . . well, harsh.  But then, I realized that there are times in life that you may encounter verses such as these and not know what to do with them. So, now I’m pumped to get to address them.  Here goes!

I’m reminded of a certain young lady that I dated back in high school.  She was a very nice, Christian girl who I met at a Christian summer program my junior year.  We didn’t attend the same high school and she lived all the way on the far side of town, so I think it was doomed from the start.  Not to mention that my car broke down in her driveway on our first date and I had to borrow her mom’s minivan.  Yeah, awkward.

We only went out a few times, but I began to notice something very peculiar about her.  It had to do with our phone conversations.  Now, I’m a pretty old-fashioned guy and I’m perfectly fine with girls not calling guys on the phone incessantly (especially if those girls are my little Sadie someday– death to all prospective boyfriends!), but once two people are dating, it would seem that the phone should work both ways.  Well, not in this situation.  This particular girl refused to call me . . . ever.  I mean, like if I called her and left a message, she wouldn’t even return it.  She literally said that she didn’t believe in calling boys.  I was dumbfounded.

So, the day came that I realized that we weren’t right for each other.  As a teenager, I wasn’t real keen on the whole confrontation thing, so the idea of hurting someone’s feelings was pretty grueling.  Come one, she was nice and all; I wasn’t a monster.  What was I to do?

Then it hit me . . . the coward’s way out!  She’ll never call me!  That’s it!  I just won’t call her back and it will be over . . . and that’s exactly what I did.  Call me lame if you must, but she did it to herself.

This verse is about unreturned calls and the consequences thereof.  It says that “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.  You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered.”  Sounds a lot like me in high school, doesn’t it.  Have you ever been frustrated by the unreturned calls of someone you care about? (not a word from any peanut gallery members)

The next part of the passage goes on to say, “So I will laugh when you are in trouble.  I will mock you when disaster overtakes you- when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you.  When they cry for help, I will not answer.  Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.”

Again, yikes!  It’s very important that one understand who’s speaking here and who’s not.  It’s not God, it’s wisdom. The context of this passage is not that God is reclining on His overstuffed throne and giggling when people reject Him, mocking them and laughing at their pain.  Jesus’ bitter weeping over Jerusalem and His obvious regret that that particular generation had rejected God’s plan for their lives is obvious evidence that God isn’t making comedies out of our tragedies.  No, the one who’s speaking here is wisdom.

In other words, this passage is the essence of irony– or rather, its very definition.  As we have already established this week, there is a correct way that “cries out” to all those who walk through this world’s existence.  For those who choose to ignore the voice of wisdom, “calamity” or “trouble” is ahead for them.  Is that God’s punishment?  Not necessarily . . . it’s exactly what they’ve chosen for themselves.

Several years ago, there was a movie called The Perfect Storm about a group of fisherman who set out (much like the guys from Deadliest Catch— see previous blog history) to make their fortune.  The problem was, they deliberately traveled back from their fishing grounds through a hurricane.  The result? The ship sank and they all died.  Punishment?  No.  Predictable outcome of deliberate action?  Indeed.

I’m sure you’ve heard wisdom laugh at you before . . . I sure have.  It laughs as the police officer is walking to my car to write me a ticket in the very town that I was certain I could speed through.  It laughs as I have to apologize yet again because I reacted out of weariness or hunger instead of just walking away.  It laughs when I would receive the grade from my professor that I deserved, yet unrealistically hoped I wouldn’t get.  It’s irony, really.  We get exactly what we ask for.

So, don’t be mad at God because of this passage.  Even outside of the spiritual arena of thought, wisdom is laughing at those who ignore it.  Hey, there’s a hurricane ahead!  Watch out!  

But I love the ending: “Fools are destroyed by their own complacency, but all who listen to me (wisdom) will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”  The first few chapters of Proverbs will continue to hammer home this concept: wisdom is calling and those who listen will benefit; those who don’t will hit the very hurricane that wisdom was screaming at them about.  I think I’ll sail the other way . . . wisdom’s way.  

And when wisdom leaves me a voicemail, I’m returning it . . . spiritually, of course.


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