Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Restacking the Firewood

“Now therefore amend your ways and your deeds and obey the voice of the Lord your God…”Jer. 26:13 Yep, the change needed to happen. But I told myself a thousand times to let it go. I tried to convince myself I was too concerned. Maybe it was just my OCD kicking in. But if I was honest, truly honest, the change needed to happen. And I knew it. Change is like that. It’s tough because there is always a price to pay for correcting any mistake. But the cost of the change is always less than the price of neglect. A few months ago, when I had stacked firewood in my backyard, I was in a rush. I knew I was stacking it on the side of a hill, but it seemed OK. My friend and brother-in-law, Brian, was helping me. As the stack got higher, the lean became more obvious. Brian even commented, “that wood is kinda leaning.” “Oh, it’ll be fine”, I said and we finished the chore, marveled at our handy work, and feeling very manly, returned to the Saturday afternoon basketball game on ESPN. As I retrieved firewood this winter for the fireplace, I noticed the lean, but I wasn’t overly concerned. “It will straighten up as the pile decreases,” I rationalized. Instead, the lean got worse. And then came the puppy. Our precious lab, Maisy, had died four months earlier. And the time finally came for us to add another dog to our legacy of labs. Sammy would be number five. As we played in the backyard one afternoon, I threw her ball up by the woodpile. She ran to retrieve it and I looked up and noticed the leaning woodpile. Her playing by the pile could cause it to fall and easily kill a small puppy. That was enough. I hurried in, put on my “play clothes” (as Jeanie calls them), grabbed gloves and got to work. I restacked the whole cord of wood with wooden slats on the downhill side of the bottom logs. The new stack was level and Sammy was safe. As I finished the job, I petted Sammy and reflected on what I had just done. I made a change. My back was sore, my hands a bit scratched and my foot hurt (I had dropped a log on my left foot- ouch), but the job was complete. The chore I had so vehemently resisted was done. I reflected on why most of us resist making changes. We tend to be lazy. Yep, I was looking to do the best job in the easiest way, never a good combination. When it came to stacking the wood that day, I wasn’t as concerned about doing it right as I was about doing it quickly. Most mistakes happen when time becomes THE factor. Slowing down and “being present” equals a job well done. We don’t listen very well. Wise counsel makes all the difference, but we only listen if we want to. Brian gave some good perspective, but I was so focused on finishing, that I didn’t truly entertain his thought. Remember, when we’re “entertaining” someone, they are getting all of our attention and focus. We’re willing to live with mediocrity. Of course, I’m a paradox. I can be extremely picking about things that concern me directly, but very passive if they don’t. But the truth is, any time I take a short cut, it affects those around me. It was only when Sammy entered the scene that I saw the potential consequence for my mediocrity. But the pile could have fallen on lots of people. We don’t like being humbled. Pride “rules the roost” for most of us. To admit to making a mistake is difficult. It means we “messed up.” But a humble heart is willing to admit to the mistake and make the change. Mistakes pave the way for progress, if positive change occurs. May we all be willing to admit our mistakes and be willing to make changes. Heed the advice of Godly, wise counsel of true friends. Have a humble heart. Keep an eye out for things that are “leaning” in your life. Make the adjustments to straighten them out… …and avoid the fall out. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.lifeaid101.com

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