I’ve had dogs most of my life and have seen the disgusting scene of one of them throwing up and then licking up the vomit. It’s an especially inspiring scene just before a meal! I’m back in Proverbs for a month of wisdom after completing our 90 Day Challenge to read the Bible through, and came across a familiar passage this morning: As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness. Prov. 26:11 NLT
Most of the time when I’ve read this passage – I’ve immediately thought of a person who continues to return to a particular sin; that they’re like a dog licking up it’s own vomit (disgusting). I still believe that, but had a new thought this morning that many of us often return to the same patterns that impact our lives without thinking of them as being foolish or sinful.
In Love & Respect, Emerson Eggerichs shares an illustration of a man turning a light switch off and on and the light fails to come on. He said if the man did that a couple of times, you’d think nothing of it (and would probably do the same). However, if the man stood there for 30 minutes flipping the switch off and on – getting the same result of no light coming on – we’d all probably think the man is _______. You fill in the blank – but most people say “stupid” “dumb” “an idiot”. WHY? Because it’s dumb to think if you do the same things over and over you’ll get a different result. (On a side note – that’s the problem in “church world” – churches doing things the same way over and over and thinking they’re going to get different results (most churches are dying or declining) — is that foolish?)
As I thought about this, I was reminded how often I’ve been guilty of the same thing.
Here are a couple of examples:
1. When I get home in the evening, I’m usually tired from my day of work – dealing with relationships – helping people – studying – seeking God’s direction – etc etc —- so I tend to want to chill in front of the TV for a while, and I’m a sucker for old movies and some old sitcoms – so before I knew it I’d be up until 11:30pm or 12:00am. The result was I’d have a hard time getting up early to spend time alone with God before I started my day – so my time alone with God would normally be rushed at best. I know I need intimacy with God – there’s no way to lead my family or our church family without it…….but I bought into the doggie vomit routine – repeating something foolish and thinking I’d still be ok. I needed to flip the remote and turn the tv off and go to bed – so I’d be able to get up early and spend some great focused time with God. I haven’t arrived, but am making progress.
2. A good friend of mine told me yesterday, when I answer my cell phone I sound blunt or like I’m put off by the person calling. That’s does a lot for relationship building and making people want to call. He also said, after the initial contact, it’s easy to see I’m not put off and am glad the person called, but the way I answer is not best. I’m thankful I have friends who will be honest with me – b/c I never realized this. I usually say “Hello” when I answer the phone, but it’s pretty abrupt and he suggested with the miracle of technology that since I know who’s calling it would be better to say – “Hey – _____ – what’s up?” or something a little more personal than a cold blunt sounding “hello”. This may sound trivial to you, but it’s not to me. I want people to enjoy calling and know that when they call – I’m excited to talk to them —– so I have to quit flipping the answer button the same way on my cell phone.
3. The other example for me has to do with The Great Commandment – to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. How can I accomplish that foundational verse of our church and my life if I have no strength or endurance? Doggie Vomit #3 for me was staying in the same exercise and eating habits. It’s foolish to think I’m going to be healthy and have the energy I need to serve God & people (to love God & people as I should) if I’m a glutton who’s overweight and out of shape and rarely exercised. I’ve been convicted by the Holy Spirit in the past of this, and sinned by not doing something about my physical condition. This past January, Janet and I made the decision to quit returning to the vomit and change our lives by eating clean and exercising. Part of my problem was that I made food my idol – or the place where I got pleasure. Now I’m learning that food is fuel for the body and the cleaner I eat the more I actually enjoy it. We haven’t arrived and still have much to learn – this is a learning curve for us, but we decided to quit flipping the same switch over and over as our mental/spiritual lightbulbs began to come on.
I dont’ know what it might be for you. But if you’re flipping some switch over and over and think you’re going to get different results – you might want to video a dog licking up it’s vomit and carry that around for awhile as a reminder of how foolish you’re being. By the way – the old saying – It takes one to know one applies here – because I’ve been pretty foolish with some things. However, I don’t want to be like a dog returning to its vomit – so I’m opting for wisdom at this point — which means choosing to change.