Sometimes, lessons you learn are obvious, timeless, and can be woven seamlessly into a brilliant allegorical narrative.
Other times, you just have to go over there by Qwerty and talk about what you learned today. Some lessons might not be very clear from just the story itself, so you have to spell it out. Which is what I'll be doing on Qwerty, the name I just gave the computer I'm working on.
Qwerty is not my computer. And this is not the blog post I intended to write.
The real blog post for today is sitting quietly on my hard drive, safe and sound . . . and out of reach. It was written several days ago and has been proofread twice, all set and ready to post.
Until a seven-year-old threw an exercise ball at my computer and cracked the display.
Just a typical day in my life with my host family here in Colorado. The poor kid ran away and hid from me the rest of the night. Which is a real shame, because he missed admiring the splintered cyan-yellow-and-magenta glory that is my computer screen.
You would think that there wouldn't be a lot to learn from this (except for the obvious "don't-make-kids-mad-by-doing-homework-on-your-computer-instead-of-playing-with-them"). But this one has more moral-of-the-story potential than a contrived sermon illustration or one of Aesop's fables.
So here's what I learned today.
Lesson One: I am not in control. I work so hard at being consistent with this blog. It's a matter of pride for me that I haven't missed a Wednesday or Saturday post since the day I started it eight or so months ago. Often, I write posts days ahead of time, which is great time management, but also lulls me into thinking that I am the one running this show.
There's a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon that I love. It shows Calvin towering over a flower with a watering can, proclaiming his total dominance of the water supply. "If I don't water you, you'll shrivel up and die!" he crows, laughing evilly.
Then a rainstorm bursts out in the next frame. And little Calvin looks pretty silly.
Bill Waterson, the cartoon's creator, labeled this strip, "The illusion of control." It's the little things in life that shake up our carefully organized plans and remind us that control is, in fact, just an illusion.
Lesson Two: Sometimes you have to learn the hard way.
This summer, I've been spending too much time on the computer. I rationalize it by saying that a lot of my friends aren't around and I need to keep up with them . . . or I just don't have anything to do without them. I always meant to spend more time in my devotions and less on Facebook, but I never quite got around to it. Until I had no other choice.
I'm not saying that God has some kind of "smite panel" up in heaven with different buttons on it--exercise ball, wildfire, speeding ticket, diagnosis, rabid squirrel, annoying neighbor--that He pushes whenever He wants to get our attention or teach us a lesson. (Although, now that I think about it, that's kind of a funny picture. And it's true that God is completely in control of all things. Nothing surprises Him, and nothing is beyond being used by Him.)
What I am saying is that I probably won't have a computer for the rest of my time here in Colorado. And I'm guessing I'll use my time a little differently as a result. Draw the cause-and-effect lines where you may based on the strictness of your view on sovereignty, but the story ends the same way regardless: Amy remembers her priorities.
Lesson Three: Home gyms can be dangerous. I always knew I hated exercise equipment for a reason. (Although you'd think I could pick a tougher piece of equipment to destroy my technology. Like, you know, having my laptop get chewed up by a treadmill. I can just hear the scorn now: "Oh, an exercise ball hurt your computer? Was that before or after its yoga/Pilates/tea party session?")
Well, that's what I've been learning out here in Colorado. Bob and Larry would be proud.