There was not the slightest doubt in my mind about the rightness of what I was doing. And yet, there I was, breaking the law and in trouble with the police! All I wanted was a few pieces of chrome trim for my car. I had paid my admission fee to get into the automobile junkyard. Once inside, it was up to me to wander, screwdriver and pliers in hand, through row after row of wrecked cars. Upon locating the parts I wanted, I had only to remove them and pay for them at the exit. I didn't know that half of the yard belonged to the police department and that the vehicles there were off limits to the public. Oh, the area was cordoned off by a fence, all right. But the gate was wide open and I didn't see the "Stay Out" signs. So my conscience was perfectly clear. And it was obvious to me that my chances of finding the parts I wanted were far greater in this section, where the cars appeared to be untouched, than in the other section, where they had been thoroughly picked over already. I did vaguely wonder, though, as I penetrated into the restricted zone, why it was so deserted and all the other customers contented themselves with the junk in the other section. Oh, well, no time to worry about that.
I assumed I was right
I began to look in earnest for an automobile like mine that would have the trim I needed. My concentration was only partly interrupted when a voice over a loudspeaker boomed, "Will the man in the blue jacket please return to the public area?" Silence once more, and my search continued. "Will the man in the blue jacket leave the restricted zone?!" the loudspeaker blared. The demand was repeated a few seconds later with added volume and force. "What a pity," I said to myself. "It's too bad that troublemaker can't cooperate with the authorities and abide by the rules." "You in the blue jacket! Get out of there!" the voice thundered. While these words were still hanging in tire air, a guard appeared several dozen yards in front of me and motioned for me to turn around and leave — fast! Who, me? Suddenly I saw the picture all too clearly. I was the reprobate in the blue jacket. I was the "troublemaker." I had so much assumed I was right that I had not been receptive to even a suggestion that I was wrong. With considerable embarrassment, and realizing that by now many eyes were watching me, I quickly backtracked and lost myself amidst the wrecks in the other section of the junkyard.
They couldn't mean me
I had just hastily gotten on a plane in Europe and, out of breath, settled back in my seat. Final preparations for takeoff were underway when a voice with a broken accent came over the public address system: "Mr. Clayton from Milwaukee, U.S.A., please contact a flight attendant." Isn't that interesting, I thought, someone on this very plane way over here in Europe from Milwaukee, my birthplace, and with part of my name. What a coincidence. Small world! The request was repeated several times. How many, I don't know. I didn't pay any further attention. Why should I? After all, my surname wasn't Clayton and it had been many years since I had lived in Milwaukee. Anyway, the plane was about to leave and I was busy looking for my passport. It had been with some other items I carried on board. Now it was gone. I unbuckled my seat belt and got down to look under my seat. A passenger across the aisle noticed what I was doing and asked me if I was looking for a passport. He had found one and given it to a crew member. I lost no time in getting the attention of a flight attendant, who ran up to the front as the plane's engines were revving. In a few moments several crew members, including the captain, came back to my seat. This was suddenly a major incident, because by now the passport had been handed out of the plane to be taken to the airline's office. Now the captain would have to radio the tower and request that the passport be intercepted and sent back to the plane, which would, of course, delay the flight. He asked in broken English, his face flushed with rage, why I hadn't responded to the announcements. Who, me? What could I say? How could I explain in another language to the angry crew members and passengers staring at me that my name was not "Clayton" and yet at the same time it was, that I was not now "from Milwaukee" and yet technically I was? Oh, why hadn't I at least checked with a flight attendant just on the outside chance that I was the one being addressed?
Hear — and apply
In both of these instances, I just did not see how the words spoken applied to me. In the spiritual realm, such a reaction could be dangerous indeed. It is not sufficient just to have ears to hear. One must hear! What about the words Herbert W. Armstrong speaks on the World Tomorrow program, or the words spoken in sermons from God's other ministers? Or what about the written words in the Bible or in The Good News? Do they sink in? Do you allow them to apply to you? "Let him who thinks he stands [in other words, assumes he is right] take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). It really is possible, you know, that this warning could apply to you. "Who, me?" Yes, you!