Have you ever noticed that the younger a person is, the more open they are to advice? And as we age and get set in our ways, we generally do not take advice very well at all, especially from younger people? And the more important that a person thinks he or she is, the higher the probability that they don’t seem to want any advice? It’s our human nature. Take the following story by Steven Corey from the Naval Institute magazine, PROCEEDINGS.
While on maneuvers, a battleship lookout noticed a light in the dark, foggy night. After noting the light’s coordinates, the captain recognized his ship was on a collision course. “Signal the ship: We are on a collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees.” The return signal came, “Advisable for YOU to change course 20 degrees.” The captain said, “Send, I’m a captain, change course 20 degrees.” The response was, “I’m a seaman second class, You had better change course 20 degrees.” By this time the captain was furious. He yelled, “Send, I’m a battleship. Change course 20 degrees.” The reply….”I’m a lighthouse.”
This humorous story captures the fact that in life we all need to sometimes humble ourselves, take advice and change our course. This is what Jesus taught, “And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whomever humbles himself as this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 18:2-4).
Jesus said that we must change and become as children. Not in everything of course, but in our willingness to obey and trust. Notice how the child that Jesus used here came when called and allowed himself to be set in the middle of them. Children characteristically are void of shame. Humbling ourselves like a child gets harder as we grow farther from childhood. When was the last time you saw someone up in years get baptized? Obviously, something happens to us as we age. I think it’s called sinfulness. It usually manifests itself as the trait of self-righteousness that eventually will reject even God’s advice.
So, can you teach an old dog new tricks? Not without Gods help. Only God can prepare someone’s heart to heed His will. Take Lydia, for an example. God, in some way, opened her heart to listen to Paul. (Acts 16:11-15). We may not know what made her ready at that time but God knows what to do. And the Philippian jailer? It seems a little fear got him ready to pay attention. (Acts 16:27-34). Getting people to listen with an open heart is not within our ability, but being ready and willing to explain the saving gospel is! We should pray that God will continue to grant them time on earth before it is everlastingly too late.
It is hard for an adult to admit that the way we have been living needs to change. And the older we are, the harder it seems to get. But, change is what we must be willing to do if we are to live with God in Heaven. We cannot safely pilot our own ship through life. God is the lighthouse that keeps us from crashing on the rocks.