Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Wisdom of Fools

By Allen White

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.
Proverbs 12:15-16

Have you ever been so sure of something you didn’t want to listen to anybody? Have you ever wanted something so badly, you overlooked problems and flaws just to get it? These are not rational decisions. They’re emotional decisions.

When I was a senior in high school, I wanted a car. Not just any car, I wanted a Porsche. With no job and no savings, most Porsches were out of my reach. But, I found one.

It was a 1972 Porsche 914. The boxy little model was only made for four years. With a targa top and mid-engine design, it could turn on a dime. But, it wasn’t perfect.
It was mostly orange from paint, but had a little orange from rust. But, I could overlook a little rust, right? Occasionally, the gas pedal fell off, but that was a pretty easy repair, right? Sometimes it backfired and didn’t run so smooth, but hey, how many other kids in my high school were driving a Porsche? Actual count = one. Me!

None of the obvious issues dissuaded me. It was a Porsche I was capable of owning. I would own it.

Had I checked the Carfax back then or asked a few people who knew people, I would have discovered the car had been wrecked – actually folded up like an accordion and rebuilt. It made my heart sink a little to hear the news after the fact, but I proceeded to enjoy it. Until one day, I noticed the rear wheel was crooked.

The Porsche 914 has unibody construction. There is no frame. It’s all one piece. We took the car into a body shop to see why the wheel was rolling at an odd angle.

The mechanic gave some hopeful news, “Well, we could weld it,” then the other shoe dropped, “But, there’s nothing to weld it to. The whole thing is rust.” My affordable Porsche suddenly became expensive junk.

Why hadn’t I asked more questions before we bought it? Why didn’t we have the car inspected? Why didn’t I consult with people who knew more about Porches than “I’ve really got to have one.”

We sold the car for about a third of what we paid to someone whose eyes were wide opened and wanted a project. We were relieved to be rid of it.

Whether it’s a new job or a new house or a new car or a new anything else, it’s easy to plunge into decisions believing we’re about to enter into the perfect situation. The excitement of “new” overcomes the commonsense of getting advice.

If we honestly look at our lives, we can see times when all of us have gone the way that seems right to us. This is the way of fools. We shouldn’t be embarrassed by foolish mistakes unless we keep making them. Learning from mistakes makes us wise. Repeating mistakes is a whole other matter.

When you face an important decision, whose advice do you seek? Who helps you process your decisions? We should seek both God and others.

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