Shortly after graduating from university, I took a trip with my new boss to a conference. He was about to give an important presentation, but over dinner he remarked that he hadn’t had a haircut for a long time. He wished he looked more presentable. I offered to cut his hair for him. He asked how good I was. I replied, “I’ve never had a complaint.”
I had never had a complaint because I had never cut anybody’s hair. Not even once. But I had worked in a barbershop as a kid, and I watched thousands of haircuts. I thought I knew enough. And I did. My boss loved the haircut, and I continued to cut his hair the next couple of years.
Twenty years later, though, I looked back on that decision, and I thought, “What a fool I was.” I should have at least let my boss make an informed decision.
While I could see the foolishness in me of twenty years before, I was now forty, and I felt pretty confident about my ability to wisely balance co-owning a software company with a wholesome family life and a healthy spiritual life.
Today I look back on my misplaced confidence—thinking I could manage a company, family, and spiritual life—and I think, “What a fool I was.” I made more (and bigger) mistakes in that “successful” season of life than I ever had before.
And I wonder: Twenty years from now, what kind of fool will I see I am today?
Admitting Our Foolishness
Last week, I read the story of King Jehoshaphat. He is one of the “good” kings. Scripture says, “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the ways of David (2 Chron. 17:3). He was also a powerful king, and for most of his reign, neighboring kingdoms paid him tribute.
In his later years, though, three enemy kingdoms formed a coalition to destroy him. He is told that a “multitude is coming against you.” And he turns to the Lord. Jehoshaphat is at the pinnacle of his career: he is stronger than he’s ever been; his kingdom is at it richest under his rule; and his wisdom is just peaking. He prays:
Lord … we do not know what to do. (2 Chron. 20:12)
I wonder if the epitome of wisdom—the meaning of my gray hair—is to admit, “Lord, in all my wisdom, I finally realize, I do not know what to do. And I probably never did.”
The Battle Belongs to the Lord
I have a friend who I believe is making a mistake in his life. I think my discernment may actually be from the Lord. I wanted to tell my friend what he’s doing wrong. But a couple weeks ago I read this quote from Oswald Chambers:
Beware of getting ahead of God by your very desire to do His will. We run ahead of Him in a thousand and one activities, becoming so burdened with people and problems that we don’t worship God, and we fail to intercede.
God is calling me simply to pray for my friend. It feels weird. As though prayer isn’t enough, as though my friend needs my wise words more than God. Which is stupid of me. Foolish even.
When King Jehoshaphat seeks God’s word for this upcoming battle, God speaks: “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.”
As I get older, and hopefully wiser, and as my hair turns gray, I am coming to realize that all the battles are the Lord’s, not mine. There are times God may ask me to raise a sword, but even then, the battle belongs to the Lord, not me.
God is saying to this graybeard, “Get off of my throne!” (And step away from the barber stool.)
P. S. Sometimes in the middle of our lives we wonder, “Is this all there is?” It isn’t. God wants more riches for us in our lives.
God is the good Father who wants to enter into a divine dialogue with each one of his kids. To grow in that divine dialogue, please watch the video bel0w (Is this all there is?), and buy a copy of Hearing God in Conversation.
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