There is an old Chinese proverb that says: Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way, and expecting a different outcome. If that's true, then I think it's safe to say that former U.S. President Harry Truman was not insane.
While reading David McCullough's biography of Truman, I came across a humorous incident that occurred in Truman's younger years. It seems that young Harry was afraid of the dark. McCullough writes:
"Coming home alone in the dark, he [Harry] could get 'scared to an icicle'...He was afraid of getting knocked on the head by the hoboes who hung about at the point where he changed trains at Kansas City, fearful of both ghosts and hoboes as he made his way home on foot from the Grandview depot on nights when there was no moon."
I especially enjoyed this part of the story, as McCullough continues:
"Once approaching the house in the pitch dark, groping his way to the kitchen door, he [Harry] walked headlong into the pump. The next day, he painted the pump white."
For Harry, running into the pump once was enough. This nonsense was going to stop - and it was going to stop now!
As we close out another year and look ahead to another, can you think of any pumps in your life that need to be painted?
As I recall, it was during the summer of 1982, on a Wednesday evening. Kathryn, Kandi and I were headed to church and I had the radio tuned to the local Christian when a minister began to expound upon a familiar verse in Hebrews:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us... (Heb 12:1)
On that evening, the Holy Spirit used the minister's words to help me to identify my pump.
You see, I loved to read, but I was spending most of my time reading about the music and entertainment world (People, Rolling Stone, etc.), and wasn't spending anytime reading the Bible. I had been a Christian for over a year at that time, but I wasn't growing. I kept running into the same besetting sin.
So that evening, by the grace of God, I painted the pump. Don't misunderstand - I've had to do some touch-up work along the way, and there have been other pumps to paint, (and I'm sure there'll be even more!). But by the grace of God I haven't run into that same one again.
As we close out 2010, perhaps we should pray in this manner:
All-seeing, All-knowing Father: help me to identify the sins that I keep running into again and again, the things which are preventing me from making progress in the Christian race. Grant me the grace, the spiritual strength and determination, to deal with these besetting sins, to repent, and yield myself to You that You may continue the work You began in me - conforming me into the image of Your dear Son. Amen.