Friday, April 20, 2007

Hearing and Heeding ~ Part II

This is what the Lord says, He who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it - the Lord is His name. "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." ~ Jeremiah 33:2-3

To continue with the theme from last week’s column, Keen and I have seen this business of listening to our hearts work both for and against us, depending on whether we just “heard,” or whether we also chose to “heed.” Here’s another example: Back when we were waiting for the Supreme Court to hand down a decision in our lawsuit, a case very similar to ours came up for review. The case involved a tow truck driver from Illinois named John Gratzianna whose company was removed from the towing rotation after he decided not to support the local mayor’s campaign for reelection. This case was often referred to as a “sister case” to ours. In fact, the Supreme Court Justices handed down a favorable ruling in both cases on June 28, 1996, by the exact same margin – 7 to 2. (Justices Scalia and Thomas dissented.)

I said all that to say this: Due to our interest in the outcome of the Gratzianna case, I decided to fly to D.C. to attend the oral arguments. Since Keen wasn’t able to get away from the trash business (and Southwest Airlines was running a special two-for-one sale), I decided to take our son Josh along. I thought it would be a good educational experience for him. Well, it was an educational experience all right, in more ways than one. As I was preparing for the trip, I had the strongest feeling that we should make arrangements to stay in a hotel during our visit, rather than staying at my brother Bob’s house. (Bob is the one who successfully argued our case at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and again at the United States Supreme Court.) However, when I mentioned my plan to Bob, he insisted that we stay with them and save ourselves the expense of a hotel. Still, I could not deny this nagging feeling that it would be better for everyone if we made our own arrangements for separate accommodations. So I called one of the hotels in D.C. and discovered that they were all booked. Rather than continuing my quest to locate a hotel that had a vacancy, I decided to override the still, small voice.

To make a long story short, everything about the trip was great, except for the fact that Josh and I did not have our own hotel room. Bob was occupied with work, of course, so after the oral arguments were concluded, Josh and I were left with no other option except to wander the streets of D.C. like two vagabonds. To make matters worse, the weather was cold and rainy, and I only had a thick sweater for outerwear. We visited several museums, and eventually resorted to returning to the museums just to get out of the weather. If only we had booked a hotel, we could have been waiting for Bob in the comfort of our room, enjoying a good movie and a pizza.
A year later, Josh was in a serious car accident prior to a football game at Wabaunsee High. He and three of his friends went for a ride with a fellow student whom he didn’t know very well. Before they headed out on Highway 99, the driver insisted that all of the passengers put on their seatbelts. Five minutes later, the driver met an oncoming car while attempting to pass on a curve. The car rolled several times, landing on its roof and leaving all four young men dangling from their seatbelts. Thank God no one was seriously injured. Several days later, I asked Josh if he had any kind of a hesitation or “red light” feeling (pardon the pun) about getting into that car, and he acknowledged that he had.

Other examples of lessons learned the hard way include cross-country family road trips we planned in advance and later had an undeniable feeling of unrest and consternation about our plans. Nevertheless, we didn’t think that we could possibly back out at the last minute and disappoint our family members who were anxiously awaiting our arrival. So once again we made the ill-fated decision to veto our better judgment and journey onward, only to be met with disastrous consequences such as miserable, rainy weather, forcing 40 people indoors, sick children (i.e. vomiting, ear infections that lasted for months), family feuds (either between ourselves or other family members), and other unpleasant experiences too numerous to mention.

I would be remiss not to mention that there are just as many examples of situations where we have averted potentially catastrophic circumstances by heeding that still, small voice. As I mentioned earlier, it works both ways. Case in point: the time that Keen woke up at 12:30 a.m. with an overwhelming and specific sense that someone had done something to damage our trash truck. He immediately got dressed and went to his shop to investigate. After confirming that the tires had not been slashed, he warily started the truck, paying special attention to the gauges. That’s when he noticed that his oil gauge wasn’t moving, and he immediately turned the truck off before our $10,000 engine was ruined. Keen’s premonition was right on the money; someone had sabotaged our truck in the middle of the night by draining all the oil out of it. But their plan was averted, thanks be to God, and Keen’s trash truck was back up and running that same afternoon.

The bottom line is this: while we may not be able to avoid every negative or unfortunate happenstance in our lives, I do believe that we serve a loving God who will utilize any means possible to help His children.

Whether we heed His counsel or not is up to us.

“Today, if you would hear His voice, and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts.” ~ Hebrews 4:7b