When I was a boy, my brother and friends used to play a game called pickle. In the yard, we’d set up two bases, with a player at each base with a baseball glove. These are the basemen. They would throw a single ball between them. Other players would try to run back and forth from one base to the other. These are the runners. While the runners tried to go back and forth between the bases, the basemen would try to tag them out, like in baseball. The ball would sometimes fly over someone’s head, or be dropped. There was chaos a lot of times. But once in a while, a runner would get stuck between the two basemen, in a run-down. The ball would go back and forth between them, with the runner first running toward one base, then the other, trying to avoid being tagged and to make it safely to any base.
How do you get out of a pickle? You’ve got to be foolish.
What do I mean? …
Today I was on the phone trying to set up a new drug prescription for my father. The doctor’s office was ready to prescribe, so I called them.
“We use a mail order prescription service,” I said, “can you call in the prescription to them?” “We don’t call in prescriptions. If you give us their fax number, we can fax the prescription in.” I replied, “Well, I think they have their own fax form and procedure …” “Well, you can mail the form to us. Or drop it off. Or, just call them up and have them fax the fax form to us, then we can fax the prescription to them. Here is our fax number.
They can do that.”
So I called the mail-order pharmacy. “Hello, can you fax the fax form to my doctor, so his office can fax back the fax form and the prescription?” “Well, the doctor’s office has to contact us directly.” “Could you just fax the fax form to them? I have their fax number right here.” “Well, we have a simple number for them to call. They don’t even have to speak to a person. With only a few button pushes they’re all done. It’s very easy for them.” Silent pause. “So … you couldn’t just fax the form over to them I guess?” “No, that’s not our procedure. Have them call us.
They can do that.”
Now, I could have gotten mad. I could have said, “Look, I’m the one stuck in the middle here. This will be the third phone call I’ve made, going back and forth, when all that either one has to do is make one single call to the other, and everything would be done. Each one wants their way, and won’t cut a break. Fine. I’m not going to cut them a break either.” I could have just given up and gone to the local pharmacy. Or I could have gotten the fax form and mailed it coldly with a huff to the doctor’s office. All of these would be very reasonable. I was tempted to do it.
But then, I would have been tagged out.
I would be doing the same thing they were doing. I would have become the evil I hated.
What did I do?
Something very unreasonable, something that may seem like foolishness. I retrieved the fax form that the doctor’s office refused to get. I personally drove 2 miles with a warm greeting to the doctor’s office to deliver to them the fax form – by hand – that the pharmacy refused to send.
And I was safe. I made it. I was free. No bitterness and rancor, just joy and energy. I had a great, great day after that, I can’t even begin to explain…
Jesus was always in pickles in His ministry. “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates, `We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.'” (Mt 11:16-17)
But He was always getting out of them, too: “But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Mt 5:39-41)
At some point, God puts each of us into a pickle. When you are in a pickle, don’t be afraid to follow these foolish words. Don’t be afraid to be foolishly merciful.
You will have a great, great reward.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Cor 1:25)