Watch Out for the Trash Can!
Two of the most fantastic years of my life occurred when I worked with my grandfather. During this time, he was in his seventies and I was in my twenties. There was a major generational gap, and boy was it a trip! He was in the stage of life where he was losing things: sight, hearing, mobility, etc., yet he was absolutely not giving up any of his independence. Can’t see very well…can’t hear very well … can’t anticipate very well … but I can still drive, baby! And he did. And I let him (I’ll tell you why later). And he was driving in North Dakota conditions: winter, snow, ice, and blizzards. So, picture him getting in the driver’s seat and me buckling myself in with the passenger belt, along with any other belts I could get my hands on!
I’ll never forget the time he was backing the truck to unload some items—a practice we would repeat daily—but on this particular occasion the trash can he habitually used as a demarcation in his rear view mirror was moved to a different spot. So he backed closer and closer to several stout, sturdy poles which were ready to remove the back bumper from the truck and I waited until the last second and finally eked out, “I think the trash can has been moved!” He slammed on the brakes and began haranguing whoever moved the can. Whew, that was a close call!
Or how about the time he forgot something at his house, but stopped two blocks south of his home and was about to make an attempted entry on some poor unsuspecting folks. Again, I waited until the last second as he was preparing to close the truck door and make his way to the house, I finally exclaimed, “I think your house is a few blocks north!” At which time he fussed at me for not telling him before he got out of the truck.
There are many other stories that I could share, but I will leave you with just one more. He was driving at night down the main street of the city and failed to notice the road graders and dump trucks at work. The graders would scrape both sides of the street and leave a pile of ice 3-5 feet high, then dump trucks would haul it off. Well, a pile hadn’t been hauled off and grandpa was heading straight for it at 35-40 mph. I saw it afar off; he didn’t. I didn’t say a thing! He drove right on to it, high centering the truck, shouting, “What in the world?”, while still pushing down on the gas. I finally commented, “Uuuhhh, I think we might be on some ice.” Oh, man … was it ever fun! I can’t tell you how many stop signs we ran through, (I would just slide down in my seat and hope for the best).
So, why didn’t you say something Bradford? I did when I absolutely had to, but many times I didn’t because I had a profound respect for my Grandfather. I watched a man who spoke with actions rather than words. I watched his work ethic in action. I observed his ministerial humbleness. At times, he would be in tremendous pain, yet he would never complain. I respected him greatly, and that is why I had a hard time correcting him or usurping his independence. I was along for the ride until the day came when he said, “Guess you better drive, son.”
The wise man noted, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). The word fear comes from a Hebrew root word that has a different meaning than most would suspect. In most minds, to fear something is to be afraid or frightened. If one views God in this fashion, then God is viewed as a tyrant just waiting for the slime balls of humanity to mess up. When they do, there is divine retribution as the sovereign bat descends on the head of the pour soul with the force of a bug hitting the windshield of a speeding car. That, I say emphatically, is not the correct definition of the verb. It really means to stand in awe of God, or to reverence God. It is viewing the things of God with awe-inspiring respect. This totally changes our understanding of fear. I don’t live for God because I’m afraid of what He might do; I live for God because I stand in awe of His majesty. This is what the wise man is teaching his “son.” Knowledge and wisdom cannot be comprehended, nor will it have life changing value, if it is not built on reverence (check out Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 2:5; 9:10; 10:27; 14:27; 15:33). As a matter of fact, he later notes that “by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil” (Proverbs 16:6). In other words, people make wise choices to refrain from evil because they respect God.
People will always struggle to know how to correctly assign their allegiance. In most cases we are introduced to a big letdown by those that we have grown to respect. However, you will not go wrong in listening to the voice of the wise man. The “fear of the Lord” is where it begins, and things get real messy when you disregard that. Some might say it is passé, after all, many youth find comfort in anger and angst. They flock to those altars because they have been letdown and disillusioned. I believe when young people stand in awe of God’s greatness, will be reflected in their lifestyle, and they will receive a huge payoff in their relationships, attitude, and general well-being.
I didn’t want to say anything to my grandfather, (though at times I was forced to say something in order to continue living) because I respected him so greatly . . . those were the best two years of my life and I learned a lot about myself.