Hi. I’m Ken Jones, and this is A Classic State of Mind, with a Word About … Losing.
I know a man who was forever losing things. He lost the keys to his car about once a week. It didn’t bother him too much to lose his keys. When he couldn’t find them, he’d just stop for a moment and think about the last place he remembered having them. Then, he would go back to that spot, and there he would find them.
Losing things became a way of life for the man. He lost pocketknives. He lost expensive pens. After awhile, he just sort of expected to lose things. Maybe that was part of his problem.
For it came to pass on a particular day, that he lost something very important.
He knew what he was doing when he lost it. He was standing in the kitchen next to the white pantry door reading a note he had written to his teenage son early that morning:
Before you go to school this morning, please feed the dog.
He inquired of his son, “Did you feed the dog this morning?”
“No,” said the son. “I didn’t see the note.”
When the father heard the answer of his son, he lost something he hadn’t lost in a long, long time. He lost his temper. He raised his voice, pointed his finger and severely rebuked his son for disobedience.
“I know you saw that note taped to the cabinet door!” shouted the man, in a loud, angry voice. He scolded his son with sharp, combative words; he railed, bullied, and verbally abused his son. He accused the son of dishonesty, and the intensity of his stormy rage blew like a furious gale.
The man’s son looked surprised, sorrowed, and somber at the tongue-lashing he received. He was not accustomed to such loud talk and accusatory language from his good and decent father. He looked down at the floor as the father continued his barrage of words; biting words that broke his spirit.
The son did not respond. He did not defend. He just stood; head bowed, heart beating, hurt beyond words, hurt beneath tears.
Quiet returned to the kitchen after several moments. Sanity was restored. The father calmed down. He chatted with other family members about their day. He smiled as he scratched the ears of the family dog. He man sat down in the overstuffed chair in the living room. He wanted to send a message to his family that he was fine. He didn’t need their help finding something he had lost, like he did when he lost his keys, or pocketknife, or pen. Control had been re-established. He’d ‘found’ himself.
And the man forgot all about losing his temper.
But the next morning, as he sat in a boring administrative meeting, his memory left the conference room and he recalled his kitchen experience the previous evening. He saw himself standing by the white pantry door reading the note he had left for his son. And he remembered. The kitchen was where he lost his temper.
And as the man remembered that scene, he felt ashamed. He decided.
He left his meeting and drove to his son’s high school campus. He scribbled “Appointment” on the parental sign-out sheet in the school office and waited until his son walked by, on his way to fourth period class.
“Simeon,” said the father, “How about lunch?”
The son looked surprised to see his father at school, surprised and glad.
“Yeah, sure Dad,” he said.
Soon, they sat in the quiet of a nearby restaurant and talked. Before many moments had passed, their conversation turned to losings and findings.
“I …uh, … was wrong in what I said last night,” said the father. “I’m ashamed that I lost my temper over something that wasn’t even important. I’ve asked the Lord to forgive me, Sim. I need you to forgive me, too.”
As the two sat together talking and listening, acceptance sat down between them.
Understanding pulled up a chair.
Repentance brought reconciliation to lunch.
And the good and decent father learned an important lesson, a key truth he hoped he would never forget:
“Reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
(Prov. 12:18 NIV)