As a line of blood trickled down my face, my co-worker looked at me, shaking his head saying, “What is wrong with you? You are not right!”
But let me back up and tell you what led to that.
My first job after graduating from college in 1996 was as a youth care worker at Barnes Hall, the former Lancaster County Juvenile Detention Center. I worked the 3pm-11pm shift, and one evening, some of us staff were watching kids in the large day room. I don’t remember what we were talking about, but whatever it was, it gave me the idea to jump up and hit my head lightly against the drywall covering a beam across the ceiling of the room.
If you’re reading this thinking, “Joel, that is really odd,” you’re right. I was young, about 22 or 23 years old at the time, and showing off. In the moment, I didn’t think it would amount to much. It seemed to me that I should be able to leap up and graze my forehead against the drywall, hopefully impress my co-workers, and land on my feet, no big deal. In my mind, I was thinking about soccer. I had played soccer from middle school through college, and that motion of jumping and heading a soccer ball was very familiar to me. Surely I could do the same thing to the drywall jutting out above me, ever so slightly touching it. Right?
Some of my co-workers didn’t think I would do it, so I wasn’t about to back down. I jumped up a couple times to gauge my height and distance, making sure that, yes, I could actually get that high. Then I took a deep breathe, and I went for it. I leapt, cocked my head back, like you do when heading a soccer ball, and then slammed my head forward against the drywall. I’ve done that same motion many times in soccer practice or in a game. But this time was different. I was going for a light touch, but in my bravado, and perhaps some muscle memory, I ended up hitting the drywall hard.
It all happened in an instant, and I landed on my feet. I was a bit disoriented from the impact, so I shook my head, seeing stars. My co-workers standing around me wide-eyed. Some gasped, some laughed, and I think just about all of them were at least somewhat stunned. They knew I hit the drywall hard.
Then the blood started running down my face.
I didn’t hit the flat front of the drywall. I hit the corner, and the impact sliced open my forehead. It wasn’t a deep cut, but it was enough to cause bleeding. About that time that one of them said to me, “What is wrong with you? You are not right!” He wasn’t being unkind. I think he was mostly surprised, and truthful. What I did was very bizarre, unwise behavior.
Have you ever had someone say to you, “What is wrong with you? You are not right!”??? They might say this to you with a smile on their face and twinkle in their eye, because you did something crazy. Or they might say this to you with eye wide open, and eyebrows raised, because you did something stupid. But they might say it to you with a scowl and a harsh tone because you did something very wrong.
The reality is that is could be said of all of us at one time or another. From God’s perspective, humans are not right. But the wonderful news is we can be made right.
I’m starting a new blog series on the Fruit of the Spirit, and it begins next week with a prequel of sorts, that will help us understand how we can be made right. We’ll be learning about Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and Paul’s impassioned concern that the Galatian Christians understand this important principle: how to be made right. Paul is fired up, but for good reason. The fate of all humanity is at stake. Skim through Galatians chapters 1-5, and I think you’ll see what I mean. Then join me next week as we begin to talk about it further!