“Beat it, doofus!”

Lester

Advertisements
A Goofy Movie, Disney (1995)
A Goofy Movie, Disney (1995)

There is a scene in one of my favorite movies, A Goofy Movie, in which Max, a teenager, is taken much to his chagrin by his father, Goofy, to a rundown roadside attraction known as “Lester’s ‘Possom Park.”  After enduring a very cringe-worthy animatronic performance in which the audience is encouraged to yodel along with Lester, Max finds himself left alone while his father explores the souvenir station.

In that unguarded moment, Max is greeted by Lester, the tall costumed opossum (think Chuck E. Cheese meets Barney the Dinosaur), who enthusiastically asks Max:

“Who’s your favorite ‘possum?”

Max, not at all interested in reciprocating Lester’s playfulness, plainly tells him:

“Don’t . . . touch me.”

Of course, this leads Lester to give Max a huge hug in hopes of cheering him up.  The scene climaxes with Max slapping the opossum caricature hard enough to make his costume head spin 180 degrees to the rear, while in the same moment defiantly ordering Lester to: “Beat it, doofus!”  The child entertainer staggers off into the background, unable to see, where he is taken down and dragged away by a gang of enthralled children.

It’s my favorite scene in the movie, and I think of it often in the church because I assume many men think of the pastor, and maybe even Christ himself as a Lester-like figure who is desperate for our attention and eager to give us a big, unwanted hug.  Anything to get us to smile and play along.

I am grateful my pastors are not Lesters, and hilarious as the scene is, it saddens me to think of the men who mistake Christ, as I once did, for something closer to that of Lester the ‘Possum than to that of a military commander.

Christ is most certainly compassionate and hospitable, and I have no doubt that he gives the best hugs.  But he is not merely an entertainer in search of our shallow affection.  He is the eternal authority, and his return will not include playful yodeling.

I encourage you to watch…

Birthdays in Light of Eternity

When you’re forever

Today, I turn 30 years old.

I don’t have any big plans.  I will be meeting with a counselor.  It wasn’t something I’d planned to do on my birthday, but when I emailed him earlier this week, this was the day he said he was free.  I chuckled, and then smile-sighed, much like my father does when moments of life seem too ridiculous to do anything other than laugh, smile and shake your head.

It’s probably a good way to start the next decade of life; discussing some of the things in my first three decades, and how they’ve formed my identity, whether for better or worse.  I’m not excited about it, but I know it will be good for me and for others.

I was not born only once, though.  I am, by God’s grace, “born again.”  I don’t usually say so because I typically assume that phrase to belong to short, roundish, gregarious black women who attend Southern churches and wear sun hats, but it was the phrase that Christ used, so perhaps I should take a liking to it.

I don’t know exactly when I was born again, or saved from one eternal life into another.  I sometimes feel as though I am re-saved on a continual basis, much like one might be if after having been pulled from the ocean waves, they jumped back in time and time again and were re-saved time and time again by the same patient and determined lifesaver.  Such seems to be my relationship with the Christ.

Theologically speaking, I know that’s not the case.  I know that salvation occurs once, and that life thereafter is a process of sanctification, or Christ-likening.  But I don’t know the day I was saved, and I don’t know that I care all that much so long as I am indeed saved.

Of course, all of us are eternal beings.  It’s easy to ignore this or fail to acknowledge it, even if we do call ourselves Christians because we have not seen the other side of death, and we cannot fathom what it means for anything to be eternal, let alone ourselves.  We may say we’ll love someone forever, but the reality is that none of has the slightest clue what it means to do anything, let alone love, forever.

So what are birthdays to the eternal?  They mean something in this life because things change as we get older.  Our bodies.  Our perspectives.  Our abilities and our rights.  Our freedoms and responsibilities.  Our expectations, both of ourselves and of the world around us.  Time changes these things, hopefully for the better, but not always.

I imagine things will change in Heaven, but I doubt we’ll worry much about time.  Why would we?  What would life be like if we did not age and we had no need to worry about time?

I realize this may sound morbid, but a part of me is delighted that I am a bit older today because it means I am a bit closer to my death, and thus closer to an eternal community with Christ.  I am not entirely without him now, as I am, but I am not nearly with him as I will be when I die to this vehicle and awaken in the next.

I understand why this day is significant in this life and in this world, but I cannot help but to wonder how significant it really is if I will live forever.  Will I look back on this day in 200 billion years?  Will I remember it?

_____

The other day I was listening to Ed Sheeran’s song, Shape of You.  It’s catchy and I like to dance, so I was dancing in my living room and pretending to be much cooler than I am when I paused for a moment to apply some ChapStick.  Feeling cool, I capped it and then decided to return it to it’s small wicker basket by tossing it from my right hand, tucked under my left arm, up and over my head, eyes fixed on the basket.

It landed, and in that moment I was Michael Jordan sinking the game winner.  No one saw it besides me, and maybe my dog, Homie.  And God.  Maybe some bored angels.

I hope that moment is recorded.  I hope I can replay moments of my life, and the lives of others, in God’s eternal living room.  And I hope you will be there, too.

Luke, Chapter 15

Satisfaction

Jesus tells three parables about the joy of finding that which was lost.  The sheep; the coin; the son.

Some have to squander what God has given them on the unfulfilling pursuits of the world in order to realize their deepest desire for the father’s love and acceptance.  The prodigal son was a rich young man who was released to a life of travel and casual sex; a life undoubtedly envied by many other young men, then and now.  But for whatever adventures he had or stories he would be able to tell, it wasn’t enough.  The high didn’t last, and he would ultimately find himself alone and miserable.

And so it was in the chaos of his own causing, by God’s grace, that the son “came to himself,” and returned to his father.  He didn’t think himself worthy to do so, but he returned hoping to be granted the most basic of provisions, like food and a place to stay.

Upon his return, the son began to apologize.  Before he could finish, the father hugged him, “and they began to celebrate.”  Food and a place to stay were available, but given what he had done with his inheritance, the son was not at all prepared for the warm welcome his father received him with.  The son was not at all prepared for the love that was still available to him.  The love of the father satisfied a longing within the son’s soul that he had not previously understood, and had until his return unsuccessfully sought to satisfy with insufficient substitutes.

Only the father’s love fully satisfies, forever.