Yogi

yogi-berra

If you do a Google search for “the greatest philosophers of all time,” some interesting names show up. Folks like John Locke, Thomas Aquinas, Confucius and Plato all seem to be on the top 10 lists. The number 1 spot is reserved for Aristotle. Now, I am not doubting the greatness of these guys. They all had insight and wisdom way beyond anything I could ever hope. But there is one name that is noticeably left off every list that I just don’t understand.

How in the world can someone as wise as Yogi Berra not be seen as one of the greatest ever? His insight and wisdom led him to make profound statements like: “It’s deja vu all over again” or “You can observe a lot by watching,” or how about “The future ain’t what it used to be.” But perhaps the most brilliant thing Yogi ever uttered was about making choices: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” The wisdom in Yogi’s thinking is that you cannot take both forks.

In the Hebrew Scripture, there is an encounter that takes place between the prophet Elijah and King Ahab. They are in an argument about which God is greater, Yahweh or Baal. To settle the argument, a contest is arranged (you can read the whole story in 1 Kings 18:18-40). Before the contest was to begin, Elijah gathered all the people together and asked them an interesting question: “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21)

The Hebrew behind the words of our text is interesting. The Hebrew word for “opinion” speaks of branches or forks in a tree limb or a road. The words “falter” or “waver” mean “to limp, to halt, to hop, to dance, or to leap.” So, the question is quite literally something like this: How long will you keep dancing on one foot and then on the other while trying to straddle a widening branch or take both forks of a road at the same time? Well, Yogi knew that you cannot do it. You cannot waver between two opinions.

You will remember that our Lord said no one can serve two masters. You will ultimately feel loyal to one or feel a sense of antipathy, if not hostility, toward the other. It was decision time for the people that day. And I think it is decision time for many of us.

What will you choose? … as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15)

Breathe Peace,

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