The Appearance of Wisdom

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pool fence

July, 1991. Mark was scheduled to speak at an out-of-state training event, so the girls and I opted to tag along.


Since the conference was held at a conservative Christian campsite, I’d planned plenty of outdoor adventure. The country-girl in me was excited to introduce my city-kids to wildlife and fresh air.


What I hadn’t counted on were the record-breaking temperatures coupled with high humidity. Within the first day, even five-year-old Hilary was begging to stay inside our small motel room, opting to play Go-Fish rather than endure the oppressive heat. 


“Let’s go for a swim,” I suggested, tossing the girls their swimsuits. 


We changed in record time, and grabbed a few bottles of water for our short walk to the pool. Before heading out the door, I wrapped my beach towel around me, tucking the end just underneath my arm. 


The girls skipped out the door and did a little “I-get-to-go-swimming” dance as I scooped their towels into my arms. 


As we walked to the pool, Hilary explained all of the tricks that she was going to perform and Hannah explained the fine art of underwater tea parties. 


Maybe this wasn’t going to be a bad wannabe vacation after all. 


The incessant chatter was suddenly interrupted by a loud whistle “tweeeeet!” 


As the three of us turned to the direction of the sound, we saw a stern man approaching us with a scowl. 


“Ma’am,” he drawled. “The three of you are dressed inappropriately. Didn’t you read the signs?” he barked.


Oh yes, I’d read the signs. They were posted everywhere:


  • “No instruments played outside cabin walls.”
  • “No drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.”
  • “No product sales without a contract.”
  • “No sitting apart from your group during sessions.”
  • “No headphones or sound systems outside cabins.”
  • “No pranks.”
  • “No cycles of any kind.”
  • “No shorts or dresses worn above the knee.”


You get the idea. 


Yet, somewhere between the posters and my brain, it never occurred to me that the last rule also applied to a vacationing mom taking her two under-aged daughters to the pool. 


(Okay, I have to interject here that I sometimes think that humor is appropriate when it is not. Unfortunately, this was one of those times.)


“Guess we should have worn our overalls since we were planning to go for a dip, huh?” I laughed aloud, assuming his request was surely in jest.


Obviously, it was not.


“I need you to immediately cover your knees with a towel, as well as those of your children. No knees can be uncovered until you are within the fenced-in pool area,” he quipped, nodding to the pool entrance just steps before us. 


Quite flabbergasted, I slid my towel down to my waist and fumbled the girls into theirs.  


As we dejectedly slithered through the entrance of the pool, I tried to think of how to best explain this to the girls. It was important to uphold the wishes of the property, but I wanted to use this as a teachable moment about grace as well. 


In the middle of my musing, Hilary, still enveloped in her wrap, exploded into tears. 


I went into Mom mode: “It’s okay, now, sweetheart. You can take it off.” 


 Uncomforted, Hilary wailed, “But, you never told me my knees were sinful!”


Over the years, I’ve thought often of this incident.  Sometimes, rules designed to keep our eyes off the flesh actually encourages us to look it’s direction. 


When our focus centers on only outer appearances, we effectively turn our eyes from Christ.


“Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is… Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)


What’s occupying your viewpoint today?