The young man looked at me, as startled as if I had just suggested that he flap his arms and fly around the block. I could see it in his eyes. Crazy old man! What are you thinking?
What he actually said was, “I’ve never done that before! I don’t have the slightest idea how.”
I’ve heard the argument before. Almost daily, customers remind me that they are old and shouldn’t be expected to learn new skills. But, this kid is not much more than eighteen years of age–not that the age thing excuses even the older ones.
I looked him in the eye and asked, “Were you born knowing how to walk?”
He rolled his eyes. “Of course not.”
I rolled my own eyes. “If you could learn how to do something that hard, surely you can figure this out.”
What he hoped for–what most of them hope for–was for me to say that I would do the task for him. It would be so much simpler.
The easy way out.
It is what we all want. More to the point, it is what we all think we want.
The young man had brought me a piece of equipment he wanted to sell. I didn’t want the gadget. Instead of turning him down flat, I had looked up the selling price on a popular site online. Then I offered him less than half of what they were selling for online.
He balked at selling the unit for that, which was what I really wanted him to do. Now, I had him where I wanted him. A moment to teach, I hoped. I merely suggested that he sell his piece of equipment on that site online.
He could have the entire amount to himself. Twice what I was going to give him.
After I spent a few moments encouraging him to follow the simple instructions on the site for selling his valuable thing-amie, I sent him home to get the job done.
Two hours later, the boy was back.
“I’ll take your offer. I don’t need the lecture; just give me the money.”
He didn’t bother to look me in the eye as he took the money I counted into his hand.
The easy way out.
When we take it, we may win. But, we will also lose in the process.
Was one action right and one wrong? No, of course not. It’s just that one action offered far more reward. Sure, there was more work to do the other way. It would take some effort on his part. But–twice the amount! More than twice!
I’ve mentioned several times how much I like bridges. I love the old ones especially. The craftsmanship, the detail, the extra effort put into building that span of concrete and steel between one place and another–all of these and more take my fancy and bring a smile to my face. The Lovely Lady and I will often drive for miles just to find one of these old gems still in use, or even one which is derelict and deserted.
I like bridges. They make life easy. Over the deepest of valleys or the widest of rivers, they provide a safe passage. Speed along any highway and you’ll cross more bridges than you can count, since many of them are all but invisible from the road’s surface. Sometimes though, you need to leave the safe, easy road and take the path which may get you wet.
I remember the day, many years ago. The hot summer sun blazed overhead as the old blue pickup truck chugged along the dirt road. The sweltering breeze blowing through the wing-glasses of the front doors did little to assuage the roasting temperature inside.
We didn’t care. My buddy and I were headed to the lake for an afternoon of swimming and a volleyball game or two with the gang. Bouncing along, the worn-out shocks failing miserably in their task of dampening the up and down motion, I watched the road ahead.
“Hey, cool bridge!” I yelled out as we approached the old steel truss span across the creek before us.
“Yeah? Watch this!” My buddy pulled the steering wheel to the left and we went over the mounded hilltop beside the bridge, seemingly headed straight into the depths of the creek. I yelled, but I needn’t have worried.
It was summertime, after all, and the water level in the creek was pretty low. We were only headed down to the old low-water crossing, a relic of the years before the bridge had been set in place.
Splash! We hit the water and it sprayed up beside us in a cascade of shimmering diamonds that played in the torrid air and then fell back to the surface to flow on down the waterway. The spray that the breeze blew back onto us only helped to cool us a little before we were sweltering again.
How had I missed this before? The invigorating joy of driving through that water is a thrill I will never forget–not if I live to be ninety.
Sometimes we drive across the bridge. Sometimes we need to take the hard, possibly dangerous path that offers a reward that won’t soon be forgotten.
Driving across the bridge will get us to where we need to be.
I’m thinking tonight though, that our Creator has designed us to do more than take the easy way. The difficulties in our path are there simply to remind us that it is He who has given us the tools to get through.
My young friend took the easy way out, and he missed the payoff. He did get paid, but not nearly as much as was his right.
Easy and safe? The reward often matches the risk.
Difficult and new are almost always more frightening. At first. Suddenly, we realize that we were made to do this.
We were made to do this.
Time to get wet?
Hey. I learned how to walk, didn’t I?
How hard can this be?
“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.”
(Will Rogers ~ American humorist/actor ~ 1879-1935)
“The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.”
(Like 17:5 ~ NLT)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.