The boys love to go to the pool during the summer. They love to hit Terrace Pool where they have the slides and other fun things to do. Of course, it is a very popular pool and is so full at times that people can get turned away. With such a crowd, the chairs are limited, and so we have to get there right before it opens, stand in a large crowded line, and make a mad dash to the chairs. Those who wait end up having to walk a long way, or won't even get a chair! We recently went to the pool and got there early enough to get a nice set of chairs in the front. The boys took off for the slides as I grabbed my book to enjoy soaking up some rays. As I sat there, the chairs began to fill up. A small family started walking around looking for chairs. Now, if you don't have anything on a chair, it's basically free for the taking. Right in front of me, they walked over to a set of four chairs. The two on the outside had stuff on them, but the two in the middle had nothing on them. You could tell they were pushed together, so they were probably a set for a family, but they were all off swimming. The woman began to take the two middle chairs that had nothing on them out of the middle, and then moved them off away to the side for her family to sit on. This amused me as I wondered if there was in fact people that had saved these chairs, and what the reaction would be once they arrived back to their spot to find them missing! The pool break came, and sure enough, a family of four comes back to find their chairs missing! They searched and searched and found a couple chairs around, brought them up to the rest of their chairs, and once again they had their four chairs. All of the sudden, as I am chatting with my boys, I began to realize that some of them are staring at us with looks of irritation. I began to realize that our chairs were directly behind them, giving the appearance that we dragged their two chairs away from them. In my mind, I wanted to quickly point to the people who did take it from them, but decided to leave it alone. What good would it do, but make me feel vindicated and draw attention to another family who just wanted a place to sit. I left it in God's hands and let it go.
Later, my son comes running over to me. He has always been allowed to run and jump in the pool by the lifeguard from the white line. Apparently the current lifeguard had decided this wasn't a good idea and was telling him to stop. He didn't realize he couldn't do it, and out of nowhere, an adult woman on the side, jumped up, started screaming at my son that he had a problem with authority! Trying desperately to explain that he didn't hear the lifeguard, the woman continued to scream, lumping my son into the world's set of dysfunctional youth! He came over to me stunned, never having anyone yell at him as she did. He didn't mean to disobey, but the woman, who didn't know him, immediately judged him. While hearing this story, the mom instincts took off, and I wanted to go defend my son. Instead, I listened to the story he told, used the moment to share some wisdom with my son, and left it in God's hands.
What do these two stories have in common? In both stories, without all the facts, they were quick to judge. To the family who lost their chairs, we were sitting near, so obviously we were the ones that took them from them. In the case of my son, the woman assumed he just didn't want to listen to the lifeguard, and instantly took it upon herself to take charge and teach this out of control youth a lesson!
In this world, we are quick to judge, and quick to fight back. We see something that looks obvious to us, but is not what it seems at all and we automatically make it our job to decide if they are guilty and deserve punishment! In Matthew 7:1, the Bible says, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." The person that always seems rude to you, may not even know they are being rude, but may be going through a divorce. The man who caught you off at the turning lane, may have just lost his job and was driving in sheer emotion! The person next to you at church, that never says, "Hi", appears to not like you, and seems unsocial, could be in a an abusive relationship, hurting and struggling to bring themselves each Sunday. We never truly know what is going on in each situation of everyone's life, but God does. The next time you find yourself griping about the crabby mailman, or the rude cashier, think for a moment what might be going on in their life. Let God use you to quietly pray for them in those moments. In the end, God will be our judge, leave it in His hands. For when your life is through, He will be the only one judging you.
James 1:19 "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."