Thursday, July 30, 2009

What time is it?

Recently we were at the park with a group of friends from church and we wound up talking about things we played when we were kids. Someone brought up tetherball. Ugh – tetherball. There was a tetherball set-up at the school I went to in 8th grade. I was horrible at it; I don’t think I ever won a game. All I could think about was the last time I played. It was no fun and by the end I was so frustrated I could have spit nails. I was surprised I had such a visceral reaction to something that happened 26 years ago... As I laughed at the memory I said, “That game makes me want to cuss!”

To which one of the men, in a grave tone, said, “It’s not the game, Christy.”

Now, for those who may not fully understand all that was loaded in his comment, allow me to translate: “It’s not the game, Christy, it’s your sin that makes you want to cuss.”

His comment stung. There I was, standing with several people from church I didn’t know terribly well but certainly wanted to and I’m being called out for giving in to my sin nature when all I was really trying to do was make a joke.

For the record, no one is more aware of my sin than I. From the minute I wake up to the second I fall asleep I know I’m a wretch saved by grace, knowledge I gain from the hourly (minute-ly?) struggle to rely on that grace to die to self, to take every thought captive, to not hold a grudge or keep a record of wrong or wrangle all the other ways my sin seeps out.

If this man knew me he’d know I don’t blame games for my sin. I was simply trying to be funny, not make a theological statement.

All I know of this man is good: he loves his wife and children, is committed to God and our church. And I’m sure he thought he was being helpful. He heard what he thought was a sinful comment and wanted to correct it on the spot. I do not fault him for wanting to point me to truth.

What I can (and do) fault him for is a horrible lack of discretion. Dude, it was a picnic. Seven other people were standing there. Have the decency to speak to me in private.

Solomon said to everything there is a season which includes a time to keep silence and a time to speak. The Message translation says: “A right time to shut up and another to speak up.”

I’m no theologian, but I think it's interesting that keeping silent comes before speaking up.

I’m also no playground monitor but I'm pretty sure the right time to call someone out isn’t at a church picnic and it’s sure as heck not in front of others.

At least the hot dogs were good.