Posted by: ritagone | February 2, 2011

A Really Bad Night

Have you ever had a really bad night?

Well, of course you have.

Who hasn’t?

The other night, I came home from our Growth Group knowing full well that a cold was coming on, and a full-blown cough to boot.  So I rummaged around in the medicine cabinet for something that would help, because I really didn’t want to be coughing all night, waking myself up, keeping Michael up, bothering even the dog.  And I found a bottle of cough medicine, a prescription for Michael that had hardly been touched, and that had expired in December of 2009!

Ah, I thought, this is good!  How bad could this be, taking a codeine-based cough syrup that is this old?  The worse that will happen is that it will do nothing for my cough, and the best that will take place is that I won’t cough because there will be enough power to keep the cough at bay.

Well, I learned something new that night: codeine doesn’t get weaker with age; like fine wine, it ages and ferments and grows stronger.  By the morning, I wasn’t coughing, all right, but I could hardly stand up straight.  If you had given me a sobriety test, I probably would have failed.  I felt terrible.  And then I thought I’d have a light breakfast: a Slim Fast diet shake.  Well, that shake and the codeine from the night before didn’t agree with one another, and guess who won?  Needless to say, the breakfast gave up and exited the premises.

By the time mid-morning came around, I was feeling a bit better, but I can tell you, that’s the last time I will play around with old prescriptions sitting in the medicine cabinet without checking with someone who knows more than I do about such things.

In life, we often think we know more than we do about certain things and venture forth boldly, and before we know it, we’re in trouble, big trouble.  Can you remember the last time this happened to you, like me with the cough syrup?

I can remember such a night in my own life.  A while ago, CA President Rob Fairbanks and I made our way to Pasadena to attend a dessert for potential donors, a dessert put together by our own Jenelle D’Alessandro and held at the home of some friends of hers.  Brian Newman was there, and we were also joined by an assortment of professors and other interesting people, which made it a pleasant evening.  But what I remember was a young couple who attended, a young couple with tattoos and a beard (well, he had the beard, to be exact), very scruffy, the kind of couple that if you saw them in a Starbucks, for example, you would most likely never assume – or at least those of us in my generation would never assume – that they were believers, and shame on us for making this assumption.

First impressions are often-times completely wrong, I learned, and what we think we know is sometimes way off the mark.  As we talked to this young couple, and as they expressed with enthusiasm their desire to marry and go on the mission field to serve Jesus, I felt my shame rising internally, and the lesson I was learning also growing: Do not judge by externals ever again.

Now, I expect I will make this mistake again some time before I die.  But I hope I make it less often and less severely because of that night in Pasadena when I learned that I don’t know as much as I think I know.

Just like thinking that out-of-date cough syrup couldn’t possibly hurt me, so first impressions of others can often be so wrong that we can damage the Kingdom without really thinking.

Where are you in danger of thinking you know something that may not be truth or accurate?  And how do you find out whether or not it is indeed right?  Where do you go?  Who do you ask?  Look around as you walk through the day today or tomorrow and see if the Holy Spirit points you in the right direction in any particular area of your life.

And meanwhile, have a great rest of the week.

Regards, Rita

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