PREPAREDNESS OR PERPLEXITIES
by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 23 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Blue Denim and Lace)
When I was a kid about eleven years of age, I started taking long walks and thinking about life. One of the thoughts that occupied my mind the most was the fact that most of life's perplexities are caused by being caught off guard. It seemed to me then, and it seems to me now, that the right kind of person prepares himself for life's changes and transitions.
As I look back over my life, I find that the two most perplexing times were those for which I was unprepared. The first of these was the death of my father. I was not prepared for it. I had not even thought about it, and because of this, there was a great adjustment I had to make.
The second of these perplexing times was my leaving Garland, Texas, to move to Hammond, Indiana. I thought I was in Garland for a lifetime. I had no desire or intention of leaving when suddenly God called me away. It took eighteen months for me to get over the shock of this heartbreak simply because I had not prepared for such a move. Much of our mental illness and many of our nervous breakdowns are caused by the fact that we take life as it comes, never preparing for its inevitables. We find ourselves in frustration and perplexity because of the lack of preparedness.
1. Prepare for an era. Life changes. Eras of life come and go. This is true for school, church, and individual, a home, or any organization or institution. We must prepare ourselves for the inevitable changes which take place during the transition from one era to another.
For example, when we built our present auditorium, I had regular meetings with my staff reminding them of the possible pitfalls of entering into a new auditorium. The song leader must remember that voices do not carry as well in a big building. People cannot see the song leader as easily in a larger building. The numbers must be announced more distinctly in a bigger building. These are just a few of the many things that must be considered. Many churches have lost their joy and spirit because they were not prepared for such a move.
In my own ministry I have realized the changes that must come as one era goes and another era comes. I started preaching when I was nineteen years of age. For a long time I was a youthful pastor. As I grow older I find I must discard some of the older mannerisms and add some new ones. I must give constant thought concerning my attire, my vocabulary, my manners, etc. I must prepare myself to be a middle-aged preacher. Then someday I must prepare myself to be an older preacher. Many preachers, because of a lack of such preparation, find themselves frustrated in their ministry. This same thing is true in the life of a layman. We must always be foreseeing new eras in life and preparing for them.
2. Prepare for changes in relationships. Relationships in life undergo changes. If you are a parent, you have already noticed that the relationships with your children change. The child is constantly changing in his behavior toward his parents. This is God's way of preparing the child for going out on his own. From infancy to adulthood there is a gradual withdrawing from Mother and Father. Of course, this should not mature or ripen too early, but proper preparation will avoid heartbreak.
I can recall as a teen-age boy how I began to realize that I was going to have to leave my mother and go into the army. World War II was on at that time. I can recall gradually withdrawing myself from mother and unraveling my life from around hers in order to avoid the heartbreak that would come if I failed to do so.
At this writing my daughter Becky has only one more year in high school. I have begun to prepare myself for this transition. No father ever hated to see his daughter leave home any more than I, but I must realize the inevitables of life and substitute preparedness for perplexity. I must realize the happiness that lies ahead in this phase of my life. I must magnify the benefits and minimize the liabilities. This will enable me to enjoy the new phase of my relationship with my daughter rather than lament its drawbacks.
Many people live in a utopian tomorrow while others dream of a happy yesterday. I want to live in a happy utopia today! Hence, I must watch others and learn from them. I must foresee the changes and transitions of life in order to prepare myself for them and receive the fullest from them.
Much is said in this book about the friend relationship. It never changes. There need be no preparation for transition periods. The needs of the friend relationship are always the same, and though the relationship may deepen, it need never enter into a new era that will cause perplexity if there is not preparedness. One can nestle back in a friend relationship and comfortably relax in it, developing it to its deepest depths within the bounds of right realizing that it is a bond that need never be broken and a tie that need never be severed.
Each of us must choose whether our future will be described by preparedness or perplexity. If we prepare ourselves for life's inevitables, we will not be perplexed by life's transitions.
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“I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion,
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