Sipping Poison Won’t Make You Wise – (Take My Word for It!)

Sipping Poison Won’t Make You Wise – (Take My Word for It!) by BENJAMIN R. MERKLE for The Gospel Coalition

The wisest person isn’t always the most experienced. I had to learn that the hard way.

I graduated from high school as an evangelical kid—innocent enough to feel at home in church, yet insecure enough in that innocence to feel I was missing out on something. I wanted to add a layer of toughness to my skinny frame, thinking that would make me more interesting. So I joined the Marine Corps. There was a reserve unit just outside my hometown, a tank unit, so I could drive tanks on the weekends and be a college student during the week. Wahoo! I’d be a manly man who could strut and say things like, “Back when I was in the Corps . . .”

I remember teargas training. As the room filled with teargas, the drill instructor started marching around the room and making guys take off their masks. When he came back by and showed you his fist, you could put your mask back on. It went fast enough that you could hold your breath until he returned. Then, once your mask was on, you would plug the filters with your hands and blow out hard. This would clear all the gas out of your mask and you could breath in filtered air. Easy peasy.

Things started out alright for my group. We took off our masks obediently and held our collective breath. A minute later the drill instructor gave me the signal to put my mask on. I was done. I just needed to put on my mask and clear it.

My Dumb Idea

But then I started thinking, How many people can say they’ve been teargassed? How many skinny, Christian kids from Idaho have gone through this? The thought continued: Now I know what it’s like to have teargas on your skin and in your eyes, but what would it feel like to have teargas in your lungs? The resolution followed: Maybe I should just take a little sip of the teargas before putting my mask back on. Because then I would know; I would have that experience; I would be wiser.

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