One thing I did in my “down time” was reading… brainless, non-ministry-related reading. Specifically, I read a TON of Louis L’Amour novels. The first one was fun and clean, so I began to intentionally read more of them. I probably read 25 or 30 over the 4 months I was away. It was a fun and I enjoyed it a lot.
But it turned out to be more than simply recreational reading… because the LORD had a lesson for me, and He taught it to me through the reflections of a fictional character.
I don’t recall the novel, or the character… I think it was one of the early Sackett characters. He had moved from the mountain areas of the eastern U.S. to the Rocky Mountains. In commenting about the differences between his mountains and the Rocky Mountains that were so new to him, he said something along this line – though he was from the mountains, he was not from THOSE PARTICULAR mountains. They were different – with different animals, and weather, and plants, and seasons. His intention was to lay low, get the lay of the land, and understand his surroundings before he ventured too far afield.
That was it. The reason that simple idea hit me had to do with where I was in life. My oldest son was about to be married and my wife and I were trying to navigate the new territory of being parents to an adult child. We were learning how to let go, how to encourage him in helpful ways, how to trust his relationship with the LORD, and while it wasn’t scary it was difficult. There was a lot of unfamiliar territory ahead, and we needed to proceed cautiously.
L’Amour was communicating a very important principle, that can only be applied with great humility and wisdom. The way I think about it is this…
Don’t assume. Don’t move ahead too confidently until you know the lay of the land. Fools rush in… without knowing what they are rushing into. In our situation that meant that we couldn’t and shouldn’t base our actions with Aaron at that time entirely on our experiences with him in the past. It was a new season and a new circumstance. He was a young man, no longer a boy or even a teen. It was time for us, his parents, to get the lay of the land before anything else. The wisdom we received from that idea was a special touch from the Father.
Thanks LORD, for Louis L’Amour… and for using a fictional character to teach me an important lesson.