Saturday, July 22, 2023

 I can’t help it


My daughter had some college friends over this weekend.  Watching them interact with one another brought back many memories from my own days in college…some of them good…some of them not so good. 

Armed with one “master key,” I remember my good friend Geoff and me sneaking out late at night and taking the college security vehicle, The Cushman, for a joyride all over campus.  We secretly snuck into the library after hours and watched movies, (we were not allowed TV’s and “streaming video” was only known on Star Trek).  We found our way onto the college roof and had a picnic, into the elevator shaft and drank Coca Cola’s.  On one late night we pulled my friend’s 1976 Cadillac Hearse into the school auto shop and replaced the intake gasket using the college mechanic’s tools.  During our test drive that followed we used the funeral procession light to pull over one of our college classmates.  We let him off with a warning.

At one time I took an old fiberglass fireplace from the college basement and put it into my room.  I saw the fireplace and thought… “That will look great in my room!”…and so I took it.  I figured that it would be better to be used than just to sit in the school basement.  To add to the look, I brought in an old upholstered high backed chair with one broken leg that I found left on a curbside for free…at least I think it was supposed to be free.  I repaired the leg with a Minneapolis phone book, threw a pipe into my mouth and sat down to read.  It was great…until I remembered that I really didn’t read much.  So, I gave up the book and just left the chair and fireplace set up to keep up the décor. 

If my friend and I thought of anything to do…we did it.  There was no reason not to.  It just came to us.  It was like we couldn’t help it…it was who we were.  A couple of years later I discovered why this was the case.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but apparently I was “impulsive.”  I learned this when my now wife and I were attending premarital counseling.  My bible professor…and premarital counselor informed me that according to the Taylor Johnson Temperament Analysis, I tested off the scale in regards to impulsive behavior. 

“That’s crazy! There is no way that I am impulsive!” I stated as I took his sport coat down from his coat rack and slid it onto my torso. 

“Ryan…that is my coat.”

“Yeah, I know…but it looks good on me right!? Can I have it? You have others right? I should be able to have this one…you won’t miss it!”

“No…you cannot have it.”

To this day, I still find that I can be a bit impulsive.  After giving Sarah a full 15 minutes to decide what she wanted for a new dishwasher, since our last one went belly up, I pulled the trigger and ordered one myself having become weary of waiting for her answer. That may or may not have gone over as well as I had hoped.

We all have parts of our character that defines who we are and what we are like.  I am naturally a bit impulsive, although as I have aged that has changed.  Many parts of our character ebbs and flows and changes over the years, but the Bible says that God does not change.  In fact, I have come to believe that in a very unique way…God can’t help the way that he is.  He is God.  His character does not change.  He is who he is.  He is good.  He is kind.  He is just…and he can’t help it.  God can ONLY operate within his character.  What does that mean?  It means that God can only act in kindness, and goodness, and justice, because that is WHO He is!

Everything that God does, will ALWAYS be in accordance with who he is.  He does not have to wonder, “What is the right thing to do here…I better weigh my decision carefully…”  God can ONLY act in justice and that act of justice will be right and kind and good.  That is who God is…he can’t help it.

Understanding this helps me to navigate what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-12 a little easier.  Many people struggle with the thought of God and His justice.  People cannot understand how God can be called just and allow good people to suffer and sinful people to thrive.  What Paul does reveal here however is that EVERY decision that God makes is RIGHT…every decision is JUST…because God IS JUST.  He can’t help it!

May we come to see that God is just…and that God is right…and that everything that He does…is exactly what needs to be done!

1 comment:

  1. All of the above is true and both of us have become more "sober minded" as adults. Many of the memories I have from my college days are some of the things mentioned above...not academics. My dear bride asked me, "Remember when we did donuts in the hearse?" I said, "I have never done donuts in the hearse. That was a collector car." She said, "Oh, well then Ryan must have been driving." I find out 20 years later of some of this impulsivity spoken about up above. We had fun. Fortunately, for those being shepherded by Ryan, he was able to soak up the Truths in God's Word, despite the impulsivity. The immovability of God's character has been the Rock that we have both put our dependence upon. Even amongst the difficulties of of life, He is always there for us. As Spurgeon said, "I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me upon the Rock of my salvation." He never changes. He is steady. We can find our foundation upon Him if we put our trust in Him. Everything on this earth changes. People change. Jobs change. Titles and positions change. Our bodies change. Ryan and I sat in a freezer for 10 hours and watched Kool-aid change into ice. Rust and moth destroy our positions. We cannot take anything with us when we go. There was never a trailer hitch on the back of my hearse because we cannot take anything with us when we die. He is all we can depend upon. Thank you, Ryan for this reminder! Love you, brother!