I realized today how much the culture has passed me by. I was reading a story about a massive toy recall and I scanned the list of items. Pictured right there on the front page of my hometown newspaper was a picture of recalled Barbie and her dog, recalled Tanner. The caption read (and I could not make this up): The recall includes 683,000 sets that contain a magnetic pooper scooper.
So it has come to this? Our children are playing with magnetic pooper scoopers? This is an actual review from the Amazon.com link above.
“Initially we really liked this set but the dog’s “pooping” function broke rather quickly.”
We all know how painful that can be. So exactly how does a magnetic pooper scooper work? In real life Tanner would have to have a very high iron diet to make that work. It just made me happy that my toy buying days are on hold pending grandchildren.
That story gave me tired head so I took real dog Hannah for a walk and her functions were working very well. I thought about parenthood and how tough it can be. I remembered a movie by the same name that starred Steve Martin in role of an angst ridden dad. The movie Parenthood contains one of my all-time favorite scenes. Gil, the character played by Martin, is bemoaning his complicated and unfulfilling life when Grandma wanders through and offers this observation.
Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Gil: What a great story.
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.
I loved the look on Gil’s face as Grandma goes out to the car. Then he responds with the kind of sarcasm that I am quite capable of producing.
“A minute ago l was confused about life. Then Grandma came in with her wonderful and effecting roller coaster story. Now everything is great again.”
But his wife gets it. She understands the wisdom of the analogy. I put that in the context of not only life but also my relationship with Jesus. It is so much easier to just get on the spiritual merry-go-round. It is safe. Predictable. I don’t need any assistance or encouragement for that ride. I can do merry-go-round Christianity in my own strength and with little effort. There is no risk.
Roller-coaster Christianity is a lot scarier. You have to trust the One in charge. Once you strap-in and leave the station you have surrendered control. That is the hard part. Grandma was right. You get a lot more out of that kind of Christianity. I want more of the supernatural as I follow Jesus and less of what I can do in my own strength.
Roller-coaster Christianity may be scary and unpredictable. But I don’t recall ever seeing people throw-up their arms in triumph at the end of a merry-go-round ride. They just walk away. Go to the end of the roller-coaster ride and you will see arms in the air, big smiles and animated chatter. That is what I want from my walk with Jesus. Taking chances and trusting God. The merry-go-round may be safe but that is not where I want to be. I like the roller-coaster. Paul chose the early church version of the roller-coaster ride. He certainly did not play it safe and he never regretted the ups and downs in his ride. He had some words to Timothy that warned him that many would choose the safe ride.
You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant. You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming. (2 Timothy 4 – The Message)
Paul finished his ride with arms held high in triumph. That is exactly how I want to finish.