As I stepped outside of the house to take my oldest daughter to the middle school, I found the windshield of my truck covered with ice…not frost…ice. I came to realize…summer is over. I know…fifty percent of you are in denial that summer is really over and the other fifty percent are embracing the fall (hunting season!). The reality of it is, that it happens every year. In fact, there are years where the end of summer seems to take place in August. Fortunately, this year, the bite of cooler weather at least waited until mid-September. Fret not; I am sure that we will have some more warm weather days to come…you can put as much confidence in my words as that of our Minnesota Meteorologists, Sven Sundgaard, Chris Shafer, Belinda Jenson, or Ken Barlow…(no offense intended for any of the fore-mentioned).
This past summer has left me with many fond memories. Memories like going to a Minnesota Twins game with my father and my son, watching my 9 year old daughter catch a 19” bass on the Mississippi River, taking our first ever family camping trip…we drove the entire 0.8 miles to Charles Lindbergh State Park and stayed in a tent…all in the same tent…all six of us…one tent…seriously! Can you believe it?...I’ll tell you this…I definitely didn’t get cold. I also remember the countless hours our family spent lakeside with family and friends.
In July, we were visiting a family from the church, at their lake cabin, on a Sunday afternoon. We spent the day on the water, swimming, paddle boarding, tubing, pontooning, (that’s not really a word…don’t bother looking it up)…and of course, attempting to paddle boat. As we arrived, the first thing our two youngest daughters, ages 9 and 6, did was run into the paddle boat and beg for a chance to go. Our friend, Kevin, already in grandfather mode, helped the girls in and set them adrift to paddle into the windy, blue, white capped waters of Crookneck Lake.
The girls paddled excitedly, yet uncontrollably. They paddled hard with their feet and struggled to learn to steer. To no avail, Kevin and I both called out words of encouragement and instruction as to how to control the small watercraft. Eventually, it became evident that our efforts were useless. All the two young girls had done was nothing but spin in circles, while the wind continued to blow them to the east and into a tree near a small dock against the shore. I scurried across the shoreline…tied the hapless craft to the dock, where it sat, until, their older brother decided to show them how it was done. My son, (their older brother, age 10) taking sole command of the vessel, untied the boat and paddled out into the wavy water...where he too found himself doing nothing but spinning in formless circles, entirely without control.
We came to finally suspect that something was wrong. We coached my son to hop from seat to seat, pedaling in different positions, to get the wayward frigate back to shore by leaning one way and then another, to prevent the continuing circles of death.
We threw him the rope, and were able to secure the barge to the dock. We inspected the boat to find…there was no rudder. Somehow…at sometime…the rudder had fallen off into the depths of Crookneck Lake. I was reminded what James 3:4-6 says, “…take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
I cannot tell you, how many times, I have observed people use words to cut others down. There is no place for that in the church. Jesus says that “…everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). A tiny thing like the tongue can steer our lives toward love…or can lead our lives to be a circle of death. Let’s use our tongues to bring life…and not death.