Thursday, December 24, 2009

Is It Really A Free Ride?

Value, Motive and Reason – part 3

As I’ve participated in daily life over the past few weeks, these words have surfaced in my interpretation of each collision I’ve encountered. When I say “collision” I don’t mean conflict, but I do mean a fusion of matter and ideas. All of which comprise each day’s reality check, which in reality often seems so relative and subjective. Yet the harder I look through the ocular of my given equipment, I find common ground with each and every one of you. The only distinction is geographic. But considering this season we are celebrating, I was going to get each of you “Peace on Earth”. But since that seems tacitly impossible, I’ve sent you a piece of earth… look for a chunk of dirt to arrive real soon.

Remember church; green is the new gold, so get ready.

Let me put the words of my heart, soul and mind into a fondue so you can dip the crusty bread of your consumer existence into the hot steamy delight of what happens between my ears and between my sternum and my vertebrae. All the while remembering David’s powerful prayer of repentance and caution: Psalm 19:13 “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” (KJV)

Many years ago, I wondered if I had committed the unpardonable sin, because me and a few other guys (we were teenagers) had mocked the white haired lady in our church who always seems to give a message in tongues all the while her life and family were some of the most odd and asocial people one could encounter.

I think the first time the mockery occurred was at Pizza Hut on a Sunday night after church. I think it was Dave Walker who first mimicked her as he wheezed and coughed through his Marlboros. It was me, Chris, Brian, Jack, Mike, Kevin and whatever girls we were able to recruit to meet us at the east side Pizza Hut, because most of the church people wouldn’t be there to see us smoking cigarettes. Back then you could light a cigarette from the little red votive candles they had burning on all the tables (it was wickedly dark in the restaurant back in those days). And twenty five cents would buy you four song plays on the juke box, usually Free Ride or Frankenstein, by Edgar Winter were included in the four. All of which made for some pretty serious guilt feelings later that night as I lay in my bed. Never understanding what had really transpired in the previous few hours, including church.

The REASON I bring up that historic anecdote from my teenage years is because at the time, I’m sure Walker and the rest of us really had no clue as to what had happened at church that night, let alone why we were driving all the way over to the east side (many times in the deep Iowa snow that few parents cared about if their kids drove in… let alone bumper-sliding… remember those good old days?) just so we could smoke cigarettes and flirt with easy girls.

We didn’t have a clue as to the real REASON we chose to do what we did. Some would have said we were rebellious teenagers, who needed to repent and get right with God, and maybe they were right, but did any of our accusers ever really know how bad Harlan and Elvin treated their boys? Or for that matter did any of our roll models really model that stellar of behavior?

For all of us, value, motive and REASON are the cycle of life. Unfortunately, many of us get off on the wrong foot and the next thing you know (30 years later) we’re sitting in Larry Low’s office trying to figure out why life hurts.

When those who have influence over us, use rationale and REASON that is based upon error or flat out lies believed to be true, the value(s) that is birthed becomes part of who we are (right or wrong, good or bad). Then based upon our patterns of behavior, if we repeatedly do certain things, they become factual evidence that they are indeed our values. And values are the engine or the motive for our doing what we’re doing. Even when something is wrong, it can functionally work for us, kind of like a survival thing.

In some contexts, that’s call the Stockholm syndrome (just Google it). If it works for you, right or wrong, that’s very often what you will continue to do. When held captive by a lie, that has historically caused you pain, you will develop coping mechanisms, so as to just survive and get by. And if you’re real good, like some of those guys who have web casts that we’re all supposed to be watching, because they’re much better leaders or liars than the rest of us (could I say they are just developmentally better at coping).

Either way, the things that motivate us are built into systems or patterns that we’ve found simply work for us. That’s right (or wrong it really doesn’t matter when it comes to functionality); they work at keeping us afloat, at least that’s what we think and feel.

Here’s where it all really implodes and sets us on a success driven collision course with destruction. Value and motive perpetuate the rationale or the REASON we continue doing what we are doing.

And if we can convince ourselves that what we are doing and feeling is working… no change will occur. If we are getting some measure of results that we want or are at least content with (pain or not), we’ll rationalize that things are okay and we have no reason for change. And that’s how good lies work. We’re not supposed to realize they are lies.

And the cycle continues unabated.

I wonder if anyone else reading this blog has ever satiated their pain or confusion with a piece of pizza, a cigarette and Edgar Winter. Maybe I’m the only one.

Here’s a final dip in the fondue. Numbers 14:44 “Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the high hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the LORD's covenant moved from the camp.” (NIV)

I wonder how far up into the hill country we’ve attempted to travel? I told one of the guidance counselors at our local junior high not to be fooled into thinking things were getting better there at the school. Two weeks later another high school student took his own life.

As the kids in our youth group were discussing the matter, they all lamented the tragedy of a life lost in it’s prime, but they even more lamented the tragedy of what appeared to be a kid who was not a star or popular, and so few mourned his passing. Did anyone put a RIP sign up on the pedestrian viaduct over Eighth Street? They usually do if it’s a popular kid.

It really seems like we’ve headed for the hill country without proper REASON, motive or even value (let alone the presence of the Lord and our Covenant). Since I don’t smoke anymore, I think I’ll listen to the Best of Edgar Winter and see what memories Jesus will show me.

Value, Motive and Reason… do not underestimate their impact.

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