“What was he thinking?”

The pastor had missed breakfast and lunch. He was hungry when he stopped by to visit Alice at her home. Alice was an elderly lady who could hardly see anymore but she loved to visit. As she is talking, the pastor notices a bowl of peanuts and so he reaches down and takes a couple to eat. Then a few seconds later he takes a few more, and then a few more...until the whole bowl is gone. He looks down and feels terrible, so he confesses to Alice saying, “Alice I have to apologize, but I was very hungry and I took some of your peanuts in this bowl and ended up eating all of them.” Alice smiled and said, “Oh, Pastor don’t you worry about that. My niece sent me some chocolate covered peanuts for a treat, but I don’t like peanuts, so I just popped them in my mouth, nibbled off the chocolate and then spit them into the bowl to throw away later.”


I’m not sure what the pastor did after he heard those words, but I suspect he didn’t take peanuts without asking in the future.   Sometimes we go through some unpleasant events in life in order to learn not to do those things.  A child touches a hot stove, and they learn not to touch it again.  But if that child had just listened to their parent’s warning “don’t touch”, then maybe they wouldn’t’ have had to learn by experience.  Life is full of stories of people who didn’t obey the warning signs and suffered because of it.   We read about people doing some stupid things and we wonder “what were they thinking?”


Maybe God has that same thought when he sees some of the foolish things we do in life.  People cheating on their spouses, parents abusing their children, employees cheating their bosses, and employers mistreating their employees, and the list of evil can go on and on.  God gave us warning signs called the Ten Commandments. Those guidelines told us don’t steal, don’t murder, and don’t commit adultery and a few other rules to follow. He gave us those rules so we could have a better life, but when we disobey God we often suffer from our actions.  Marriages are broken, jobs are lost, our health suffers, relationships are broken and the list goes go on and on. 


When we disobey we often go through some tough times, but hopefully we can learn from such experiences.  We can say to ourselves “What were WE thinking when we said that or did that?”

Recognizing we messed up is the first step in getting back on track.  In the church that is called repentance.  In the military we call it “about face” which means facing one direction and now we have turned to go the opposite way.  To repent means to turn from our foolish sinful ways and to turn to God’s ways. 


None of us are perfect.  Because we broke God’s rules and we deserve to be punished for each and every wrong we do. But instead of God destroying us, God choose to give His son, Jesus to pay the price for our sins.  The Bible states,  God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him..”  Because of Christ all who trust in Him, have forgiveness and life with God.  That’s the good news, and as far as the rules go.  Out of gratitude to God for what He has done we can strive  to keep those rules, knowing that following the rules doesn’t win you eternal life, but those rules can sure make life a whole lot better for everyone. 


Of course some folks might look at what God did for us and wonder “what was He thinking?”  My answer would be God was thinking with His loving and gracious heart!


Those are just my thoughts from this very “hot” SE corner of South Dakota


Chaplain David Gunderson (retired)

Yankton, South Dakota.