Joy cometh in the morning

Years ago I was sitting in a church in central Indiana. My roles in the church was many. I was part of the men’s fellowship, young adult choir, nursery ministry, and more. Being a member of a church who’s pastor was a former boxer it is easy to see how his vision of the world would always be colored ever so slightly by that world. It’s not unusual to hear a man who is a former athlete allow certain things to slip into his speech pattern. Saying things like, “be a team player” “hit a home run with that speech” “get up and dust yourself off”. “Keep swinging” and on and on.

So it was so unexpected what he said on one particular Sunday so many years ago.

It was deep in the midst of football season and the early part of the basketball season. My Indianapolis Colts were playing. I believe that they were playing badly because it was pre-Payton Manning. So they were still in the AFC East. These were the days that my Pacers still had Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, the Davis’s, and so on. The greatest enemy of every Indiana sports team was the Knicks, Bulls, Dolphins, and really any team that would dare draw breath in our new RCA “Hoosier” Dome or Market Square Arena.

I honestly do not recall the message. I couldn’t even guess what line of scripture he lifted up that day. I’m not even sure what color suit or robe he had on that day. But I do remember him saying this:

It’s a shame that we can shout and scream and foam at the mouth at a Reggie three [point shot]. But we can’t open our mouth and make any noise at all for the word of God.

Wow.

He really put things into perspective for me on that Sunday.

No, I didn’t stop being very depressed when my team was once again sent to its bench with too few points to win. No, I didn’t stop wearing with great pride the gold and blue of my Pacers or the white and blue of my Colts. Not even the vibrant reds of my beloved Indianapolis Indians. But I DID take due notice of how I responded to the word of God in worship service.

Today, we heard the Word from Isaiah 3:1-10. In this passage we were reminded that Isaiah was a young child who, though he was a servant of God, he knew almost nothing of God. So when he heard Gods voice, he confused it with his own earthly fathers voice. So mistaking it, he disturbed his fathers slumber three times. Only on the last hearing of his name being called out did his fathers words to respond to the voice of God occur. He said “here am I.”

My point is that I could be walking down Meridian Street or down the hallways of Victory Field. And if I should chance upon one of those teams ball players and they literally tripped over me, they wouldn’t know me. Probably wouldn’t even try and get to know me. Though I’d’ve been a full fare, ticket paying fan, I’m not going to be his priority beyond the brief moment of his footing being lost on account of us having crossed paths just a bit too closely. My mama used to say, “… Could trip over you, and wouldn’t know you.”

So why in the world would I shout so hard for him, a person who really wont do anything specifically for me? Why would I scream until I’m horse for him? Clap my hands until they hurt? Stomp my feet until my bones shake? Spend money like a drunken sailor on team gear to PROVE I’m the best sixth man or twelfth man or whatever man? Why would I do all these things that cry vainglorious fandom…. But I cannot be bothered to even so much as crack a smile when the word of God is delivered and He loves me in all I do? Will be my father no matter what? Has my back like no one else? Literally sacrificed his only son for me before I even knew who He is?

It was then that I made sure I re-prioritized my praise. Re-assessed where my faith was placed. In whom I placed my trust. I learned that day that man will at some point always let you down. Man is at some point going to give you reason to question why you trusted him at all. Analyze your very rubric for judging another’s character. But in God the trust and love will never EVER fail. It’s why when someone at work recently asked me why I’m always so upbeat and happy, I responded that I have a close relationship with God. She was stunned by my answer…. And frankly so was I. I too was surprised I said that so readily. It wasn’t an answer I’d planned on. But it was the answer I had on the tip of my tongue. And it was the truth.

So yes, I’m very hurt my favorite football team lost. I’m very upset that I live in a state where their team was the instrument by which my team was embarrassed to have even dressed to play. I’m hurt inside because I know the fans of that team here are rude, often crude, and love to brag and be crass in their wins and fein concern for my feelings when they ask dumb questions like, “So…. What happened to your team?” In other words, in the fellow men and women of my current community, I will find no comfort. I will find no peace or honest sympathy. They are men, after all.

But with God I can be sure that when I go to him, I don’t need to wear a particular teams colors or shout a particular chant to get comfort, peace, love, guidance and joy.

So yes, I’ll still be a bit touchy over this latest loss. And yes, I’ll one day soon again, be a super fan again. But as for now, I can still be myself and happy because I don’t put my faith in men. Because men let me down. I put my faith in something much more permanent. Someone more in tune with my spirit and my heart. Someone who does know me, even if I trip over Him.

Advertisements

For Posterity

It’s a very difficult thing to feel. Emotions change and morph as we mature and grow. I find blogging very cathartic and perhaps you will too. I salute you for being so brave @emmystone584.

Emmystone584's Blog

“For Posterity.”

I started blogging a few days ago, maybe a week at the most. And my purpose was to find myself through something that I really enjoy. In addition I took a few days off work to completely immerse myself into my craft and clear my head. Only thing is I’m more lost than when I started. I am almost exactly at point A. I have been doing my usual which consists of prayer, meditation and blogging when I don’t have writers block.

View original post 335 more words

How Willy Wonka Hires A Manager

I’m a fan of a movie classic named Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Especially dear to me is the actor Gene Wilder and the many child actors in it. I’m too long removed from the original book to know how faithful the adapted screenplay is. But I can never forget the exaggerated personalities that were on full display.

The young Charlie Bucket and his wide eyed wonderment at everything and everyone he knew and saw. He was portrayed as an excitable but considerate young boy. Not yet jaded to the world and wary of others to a fault. But ready to accept people as they presented themselves to him. Come as you are. Pure of spirit and honest in all things. Honorific to his parents and never with a complaint simply because of his untenable position and lot in life.

Augustus Gloop. Rotund. Extreme consumerist. A maddening caricature of human excess. He was attracted to the finest of all things chocolate so long as they could fit in his mouth. And a few that couldn’t. Consistently self interested and never able to refuse an invitation to consume even beyond his real ability to absorb.

But my favorite anti-hero was Veronica “Veruca” Salt.

I’ve seen Veruca Salt every day in my life and not because I own their compact discs. >chuckles under breath< Veruca is the very essential cautionary tale of what happens when no thing is out of reach so long as you have someone with unlimited means as your hostage. I have visions of Wall Street executives who are held prisoner to their financiers and the politicians who are held hostage to theirs. They think they have control until they are contacted by the ones that have true control. Verucas father thought he had control of a vast nut empire. But he in fact was controlled by his daughter.

Willy Wonka. Ego maniac. Control freak. Jealous guardian of an empire built of chocolate and assorted goodies. An insatiable inventor of all things sweet. Eternally dissatisfied to eat on his past accomplishments. Somewhat disconnected from reality and from human contact. Such a juxtaposition. Intimate connection through the enjoyment of sweets but disconnected because of them. Afraid and also angry at the world for coveting his gifts so. But also very connected to himself and aware of his own mortality. Knowledgeable enough to know that he will not last forever and hoping that someone would be able to carry on the spirit of what he once was. Or is he only seeing what he once was? It's possible he was only protecting himself from exploitation and never lost connection with himself. Perhaps he was hyper aware of himself and in that vein wanted more than anything to be sure that whomever was to carry on the Wonka name would be a smaller and younger version of himself.

I think that Willy was more in touch with his own heart than anyone could imagine. Fiercely protective of his soul and chocolate covered dreams. I believe he was very clear that his products make a real difference in people's lives. That his dreams were in the hands and on the tongues of millions every day. His own personal paradise was there for the masses and he knew that if they wanted it, all they have to do is simply look around and view it. He was clear that unless he had someone of pure heart he could not be sure that his soul could continue.

Let's be real. No one really wants to die. Even suicide bombers die with the expectation that they will enter into eternal paradise for their devotions. The eternal is the hope and wish of all. Not to continue in perpetuity scrabbling for scraps and leavings of others. But to have life and life more abundantly. We all wish that cares in the world be but a distant memory and our futures so blessed and bright that we never want for anything ever again. Earned blessings are still blessings. Enter thou in, my good and faithful servant…

Willy wanted to choose and like Indiana Jones, choose wisely. But whom should he choose? He took a risk. Whispered a prayer. Hoped for the best. Cast a net. Prepared the test.

He sent out word that he will invite a select few into his home. Truly a luck of the draw. Earn your money. Buy my products. Find my ticket and you are in. These were times when those who were willing to sacrifice their hard earned had a chance to see the promised land. Or seen another way from Mr. Wonkas perspective, a grand opportunity for profit. Who today would not buy every Prince album on the shelf if there was a chance that one might contain a ticket to enter into Paisley Park? Not because they are Prince fans. But because the mystery of what his Purple Badness sees every day is far beyond our eyes.

Prince is our real life Willy Wonka.

But I digress.

Willy had a serious and unavoidable problem. He was going to die one day. He did not know the number of his days left to him. But he knew he needed a successor. The king needs an heir. And his successor was chosen in the most random manner possible. By sheer dumb luck. Luck upon a ticket and you are in. He knew that they would love to see the inside. That's the prize. But to offer the keys to the kingdom? That's the serendipitous gift no one could've imagined. Least of all Charlie.

So Willy eliminated the liars, the users, the abusers, the gluttons, the fools and charlatans along with their parents. But what if after it was all said and done, Charlie had said no? What if he said he was grateful for the tour and loved the factory, but didn't feel he had it in him to lead the rouge faced Oompa Loompa? To manage the daily affairs of the lofty office of Chocolate Mogul? It was an awful risk.

But honestly, we witness that same risk every day when we peruse the want ads. Check the job listing website. Visit the corporate openings link. They are all throwing wide the doors to a vast fortune hoping the best will come in. The test of Mike Teavee, Veruca Salt, Augustus Gloop, and all the rest is our test too. Have you shown compassion to all? Have you proven the ability to recognize the faults in others and still given them space for grace? Have you seen troubles and instead of running from them faced up to them without complaint? Have you seen other men's dreams and sought to exploit them or have you worked to make them a reality?

These are the kinds of tests Mr. Wonka put before his naughty little children. That is how he chose his manager. I wonder if I would've passed the test too?