When I was a young teenager growing up in Southern California my dad used to listen to an oldies radio station all the time. I was accustomed to hearing his classic favorites blaring from the garage when he worked in there building or repairing things or continuing his never-ending battle to keep the California dust off his truck. One day, he went to the garage and turned on the radio and got ready to start working only to find - in place of the classic - NEWS! His favorite station had apparently made the decision to switch an all-news, all-the-time format. He was not a happy man. Neither were many of the listeners who called in all day long to complain to the DJs about the formatting decision. The DJs explained repeatedly station research had shown more people were interested in hearing a steady stream of news than in listening to oldies and a competitive market like radio was driven by marketing demands.
It wasn’t until late in the afternoon when they finally broke into a newscast with a loud “April Fools!” proclamation, ending the agony for the oldies’ fans. I didn’t particularly care what the station played, but at the end of the day it was obvious the listeners were both happy and irate.
That’s how it is with April Fools Day. There is a certain element of deception that has to occur in order for a prank to succeed and if the deceiver does a good job it can be very irritating for the victim. Makes me realize some people just have a knack for that type of deceit. Today Google has put forth an entire new concept for searching called “Google Nose”. I only briefly glanced at it but I’m pretty sure if one digs deep enough it will be discovered it is a rather elaborate April Fools Day scheme. They did a quite convincing job building a web presence for Google Nose.
It illustrates a point for me, though. I wonder how many people will believe it is possible, even for a few minutes, to conduct an online search through smell? It is no wonder we go down so many paths and make so many crazy choices in this life. Sometimes the right presentation can make the very wrong choice seem alluring and good. It would be nice to think everything and every person we encounter is exactly what they say they are, but sadly, there is deceit in the world. I know I have often made choices that seemed good at the time and only later realized they were exactly the wrong choices for me. I was fooled, I guess. I was the April fool even though it wasn’t April.
It is a futile endeavor to dwell on those choices and beat myself up - it is far more important to learn and grow from them. I once threw my lot in with a leader who was not a gifted leader, in fact, there was some corruption involved, but I ignored it. I threw myself wholeheartedly into helping the organization achieve success while ignoring red flags all over the place (I thought I could fix them). Zeal is great and can help carry a vision a long way, but in the end the integrity of the people involved with the cause make or break it. It is important to allow discernment to rule the day and no matter how much I believe in a cause, I will never blindly follow any individual again. When red flags come up - I will heed their warning and proceed with extreme caution. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice and...I deserve what I get I suppose.
And if I don’t learn from experiences like that one, I become a fool. The Bible addresses foolishness in several different verses. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” This tells me in order not to be a fool I must cherish wisdom and instruction - and learn from my mistakes. Part of learning from my mistakes is being able to admit I make mistakes and doing what I can to fix them. In the instance where I followed the leader who lacked integrity, I finally separated myself from the organization. Then I began a long period of prayer as I considered the things I did as a worker under that leadership. I realized and acknowledged there were people I had hurt and I needed to apologize to in order to really grow from the unfortunate experience. I swallowed my pride and reached out. In some cases, it worked out quite well, I found restoration and forgiveness. In others, I was rejected and had to content myself with knowing I tried to right the wrongs I had committed.
Sometimes the hardest aspect of dealing with my major mistakes is being able to forgive myself. And that is foolish. because I should forgive my own mistakes. Instead, I head down a crazy path in my mind in which I punish myself over and over for the mistakes I have made. That is foolishness, because the Bible promises if I have repented and sought forgiveness for my sins, they have been forgiven and forgotten and will not be remembered by God at all. When I keep dredging them up, I am foolishly ignoring the promises of the Bible and I am the only one who suffers for it. It is punishment I bring onto myself and not punishment ordained by God.
I don’t want to be a fool and I don’t plan to be easily fooled in the future. I love to get involved and will support my friends in pretty much any endeavor, but I always do so with discernment and caution. It took me a long time of prayer and seeking God before I was ready to move forward with The Torch. I promise we proceed with caution and care and bathe our decisions in prayer even now.
No more April fool on me.