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The Third Story Dive of No Discernment

October 3rd, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 5: 1-2 (NLT)

1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom;
      listen carefully to my wise counsel.
 2 Then you will show discernment,
      and your lips will express what you’ve learned.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

It’s a story that I didn’t tell my parents until after I was married.  That’s how worried I was about getting in trouble.  I’m almost thirty years old now; I suppose it’s safe.  I was only eighteen years old at the time; I can’t be held responsible (yeah right.)

The setting for this tale was Panama City Beach . . . . spring break . . . senior year.  Seven of my closest friends and I pooled together what few dollars we had among us and rented the most dilapidated hotel room in coastal America.  Furnished with little more than two beds, ten cockroaches, and one television straight from the 1960’s, our third story room overlooked the swimming pool and had a great view of the ocean. 

We weren’t perfect, but we were pretty descent guys.  It seemed as if we were the only young men in the entire city that were sober.  Seemingly, our only vices were incessant, daily doses of Beef Meximelts from Taco Bell . . . consequently the only nutrition we could afford.  We spent our time talking to people (especially those few females that would speak to us), playing football on the beach, eating as much junk food as possible, and basking in the short break from the “senioritis” that plagued our very souls. All in all, it was a memorable trip.

On the last night, we spent the money that we had saved all week on a huge steak dinner.  The late night found us back at the hotel standing out on the balcony.  Then, it happened.  It always happens. The “it” in question is the formidable challenge that arises among teenage guys over anything that presents itself in any given situation.  My good friend, Stephen, turned to me and said, “Dude, I bet you won’t jump off the balcony into the pool?”

I was insulted.  Now I wasn’t necessarily one constantly motivated by peer pressure, but such an insinuation was completely unacceptable.  Did he not understand who I was?  Jump into the pool from the third story . . . did he not read “The Peach Truck Incident” from The Daily Thread?  (Sorry, shameless plug– just go check my blog archives and you’ll understand.)  I was a repeller (not to be confused with a repellant.)  I was unafraid of heights and/or swimming.  All around, jumping from this balcony just wasn’t that big of a deal to me.

“Sure I would.  It’s not that high.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Uh . . . yeah.”

“Ok, prove it!”

Ah, such childishness.  I would have no part of it.  Well, that is until his next statement.

“If you do it, I’ll do it.”

I don’t remember much of what happened next.  I recall that a few moments later I had climbed over the rail and was standing on two inches of concrete with my hands clinging to the rail behind me to keep me from falling.  I also remember that the pool was not directly below me; if I was going to make it to the water, I would need to jump out and away or else I would tragically plop on the concrete below.

Deep inside, wisdom whispered, “Hey . . . hey you . . . yeah, the stupid one who’s about to endanger his life over a high school dare.  Yeah, aren’t you going to college this fall?  Don’t you want to get married someday?  Have kids?  Are you sure this is wisest choice?”

Apparently, my inner spiritual workings were clogged with Taco Bell residue because I ignored the voice of wisdom and leapt from that balcony.  Obviously, since I’m writing this to you, I did indeed clear the concrete and successfully land in the pool.  A few seconds later, a second splash confirmed the honest dare of my friend.  Thankfully, we were both okay.

The negative part occurred just afterward when a police officer appeared near the pool as we got out and followed our dripping selves up to the hotel room.  In a less-than-kind tone, he informed us that leaping from hotel balconies is illegal.  After speaking to the hotel management, we were kindly asked to give the room back to the cockroaches and hit the road.

We lost our three-hundred dollar deposit.  We lost our place to sleep from the night.  We were grateful that we hadn’t lost our lives or that the officer hadn’t arrested us as he could have.  Sorry Mom and Dad.

What I lacked on the balcony that night wasn’t wisdom.  I knew that what I was about to do was dangerous.  I knew that it could have ended badly.  The wisdom was there.  What I lacked was discernment.  Discernment, simply defined, is good judgment.  Discernment is the ability to apply wisdom to the situation at hand.

This passage reveals that if we will “listen carefully to wise counsel,” we will “show discernment.”  Not just listen, but listen “carefully.”  Discernment will cause us to listen to the point that we’re unafraid to let our “lips express what we’ve learned.”

If I would have possessed this kind of discernment, I would have let my lips say, “Hey, uhh, no.  This is dumb, dude.  Let’s just go grab a Nachos Bell Grande and call it a night.”

Careful listening to wisdom isn’t just a one-time reading; it’s a lifestyle of absorbing Godly principles into one’s heart.  My prayer for myself is that this old heart will listen to the voice of wisdom so I can gain discernment in this life.  

We each have our own balconies.  Situations.  Relationships.  Encounters.  May we learn to exercise the discernment needed to avoid falling onto the concrete . . . spiritually, of course.



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