When our family finally got settled in at my first church in Florida, I received a call to visit a young man recently incarcerated for auto theft. Back then, I could sit in a crowded room with him and a lot of other visitors and prisoners trying to communicate by almost shouting over the crowd noise. I asked him, "What happened?"
He said casually, "I steal cars, good ones like Jags and BMWs, and drive full speed down the Tamiami Trail. I usually get caught real fast."
I guess this young man was in and out of jail so often that jail time was more of an inconvenience than a punishment. The last time I saw him was just before we moved to Savannah. He was in upstate Florida at the prison there for, yeah, you guessed it, car theft. I asked the same question, "What are you in for?"
"I told you the last time, car theft."
I said, "Please let me ask you the same question one more time, but think about it for a bit before you answer."
He looked at me for a long time. I have never forgotten his answer.
"People have always told me, ‘If you keep stealing cars, you're going to end up in prison.'"
He was a victim of self-fulfilling prophecy.
Last Sunday, Julie and I hosted the yearly Super Bowl slam bang party! To be completely open, we and the rest of the folks have moved from the "spring chicken" age to the "too old to roast" era. Anything remotely resembling a slam bang party might be when someone drops the dessert platter.
Most everyone left before the fourth quarter started because there weren't enough days left for a comeback. Those sportscasters had it right, "A good defense beats the socks off a good offense."
The pattern was set in the first 14 seconds of the game when Seattle scored a safety. Next year, when we go to another Super Bowl party, Marshall will win. Please do not call Soundoff.
After the game, and over the next few days, there were a lot of interviews. I think Peyton Manning had at least one, but the Seahawks had a plethora. There was one between one of Seattle's players and a reporter that was right on target. The player told about his father who said to him, "Why can't you be a superstar? What keeps you from being a champion, a winner?"
This player said to his teammates before the game, "Why can't we be the Super Bowl champs? Why can't we be the winner?"
He liked to believe that what he said might have made a difference. All he knows for sure is that his team won. His team will wear the rings. His team will raise the trophy and his team made history! All the rest is just conversation.
The game is over, but the life we have been given to live still exists.
I am not interested in hearing, "If only, if this had happened, if that hadn't happened..." The list goes on and on. Suck it up, put on your big boy pants, stand up and get back to work!
Someone way more intelligent than I am said, "Whatever was, is now, and whatever is now, will be." Boy, do I like that!
Pastor Jimmy is teaching all about Genesis on Wednesday nights and I know he will be excellent. Jimmy reads from his authority — the Bible — and opens the lesson, "In the beginning God ..."
There is no self-fulfilling prophecy here. There is no, "It is up to me." There are no words to declare that I am responsible to change God's direction, words, creativity or commandments. I am to be a steward in every sense of the word to keep His worldly gift intact.
I believe it was Shakespeare who said, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women are merely players." True, but every stage has its dimensions, every play its lines and every actor is responsible to know the script and behave accordingly.
We have this world on which to live and we are to live with an extraordinary gift of free will and yet we are constrained by Almighty God by His Word, His directions, His commandments and the perfect paradigm, or the plan to follow, displayed by His Son Jesus Christ. No one has the right to say to us, "You are a failure, worthless, unredeemable and doomed individual." Not when God Himself has declared, "Here is death and here is life. The choice is yours!"
"Really?" Yes, really.