Don’t say one thing and do another

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 31, 2011

Although I’m a planner and list maker, I love when God takes my preparations and launches them in an entirely different direction. This happens most often during the hour I spend each week with the ladies at the correctional facility.

I never know who will be in the meeting, or what they will share. Each lady is given the opportunity to read a verse from the Bible they have chosen and briefly discuss its importance.

I’m often amazed when their selections perfectly link to the topic I’ve chosen. At other times, the scriptures they read tie together, God drops a story or another verse into my heart, and we go from there. I love it! I enjoy preparing as much as I can, surrounding my plans with prayer and watching God’s plan unfold.

Not too long ago, the best lesson came from an error. As one lady stood at the podium, she announced her verse and waited for everyone to find it. After she read a few words, I watched the group as they turned to one another, looking at each other’s Bibles, whispering and becoming increasingly more confused.

“She’s reading something different,” someone announced, and we realized her mistake. She simply said the wrong verse, which sent the group to one part of the Bible while she read another.

I quickly used the experience. “How did you feel when she told you to find one verse, then read something totally different?” All agreed they thought they had heard the wrong thing, felt mixed up and couldn’t grasp what was being read because they were trying to figure out what was going on.

“That’s what we do to people when we say one thing, then do another. If we instruct others, then live our lives contrary to what we’ve taught, it brings confusion. Anything we say after that, regardless of how good it is, is lost. I want to remember this the next time I try to tell my children what to do.”

The experience reminded me of the time I called my sister, Ann. “Want to meet me at Waffle House?”

“Sure,” she said. “I’ll be over in a few minutes.” And although I said Waffle House, I really meant to say IHOP. I went to IHOP and sat in a booth where I waited and waited, not knowing Ann was enduring the same experience across town at Waffle House. Not much fellowship happens when you send someone in one direction, then take off in another. Once I realized my mistake, Ann and I met and had a great visit.

And once all of the ladies in the correctional facility got on the same page, literally, we were able to listen and learn from the speaker.

Practice what you preach is the adage that reverberated in my heart as I drove away that afternoon. And as is often the case, the lesson was as much for me as it was for anyone else in the room that day.

Ronny may be reached at