Dream word – FANTASIZE
Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptised by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? NKJV
A kicker with a gun ‘til heaven doth come
Like it, or not, intended or not, released in 1967, the Paul Newman film classic, Cool Hand Luke is a veritable mine of Christian metaphor.
In 2007, Don Pearce the writer of the both the novel and the majestic screenplay for this film, was still living and writing in Fort Lauderdale Florida. Leaving home aged only fifteen, the author’s personal life is a rich source of story for the film. Pearce lied about his age when joining the army in 1944, went absent without leave because he was a rebel against unnecessary rules, spent time in the stockade before the intervention of his mother, who finally informed the army of his true age! Then, thrown out of the army, Pearce joins the merchant navy, travelling the world, only to be imprisoned in France for the black market counterfeiting of money! Escaping from the outside prison detail, he fraudulently makes his way back to America where he takes up a new career in burglary. Being imprisoned aged twenty for safe cracking he had to serve two years in the Florida State Department of correction chain gangs. At the very least, this young man experienced more of life in those eight years than many would dare to do in 800 years! Having previously given up writing, as a much older man he had now taken up his pen once more. In those intervening years he had an office where I used to live in Dania Beech, from which he arrested run away killers from the Carolinas and Store Front Preachers who moonlighted in the drug trade. I often wonder if some of the latter are still operating in that same trade in Broward county today!
I tell you all this because Don Pearce is not a financially successful author. He is struggling to take care of his ailing wife, and to find extra money for medical bills. He most certainly feels like Sysiphus, bound to an eternity of frustration in forever rolling a rock uphill and never reaching the top. Ben Alsup, writing in Esquire magazine from an interview with Pearce in 2005, records Don Pearce telling him one very particular story:
“A man, beaten and bleeding, is crawling after a gun. Every time he comes near to laying hands on the gun, another man kicks it up the road a little farther, keeping it always just out of reach. The kicker holds a gun of his own. And the crawler knows, should he ever succeed in reaching the gun he's after, that the kicker will shoot him dead. The kicker knows this as well. Still they travel up the road. The crawler crawls, and the kicker kicks, and the road, it never ends.”
Friends, under this present sun, there is a seeming futility in the circle of life, there is seeming pointlessness to all our journeying. If that outrages some of you, then you are either too young, or too insulated to know the truth of it. The former condition is excusable and will pass with time, the latter however, is a chosen state of lunacy and the church is full of such people.
Tonight I say to you three things. First enjoy our journey, enjoy the day, the night, the peace the fight, the hot still days and the wind borne kite. Enjoy life!
Second, enjoy your story! See yourself as a character within the pages of a book where you have a start a middle and an end, and with it a development. Enjoy being who you are and enjoy becoming who you can become. Enjoy life!
Thirdly and above all though, know that this story, under this present sun, is terribly tainted. It is marked with a curse and a futility, it is stained with loss, it is full of open crosses, upon which you might climb or be forced upon. In the middle of a groaning creation, creaking and falling apart, happy endings are rare and frankly, so they should be. So, whenever you can, enjoy life!
You see, “what we’ve got here, is a failure to communicate.” The church under this present sun, is guilty today. Absolutely and totally guilty of selling snake oil to the masses. Guilty of promising heaven on earth. Guilty of promising better days ahead for a small weekly tithing. “Yes siree, just turn up, sit up, shut up and pay up and all shall be well this side of heaven!” I tell you now, this snake oil selling of better days under the sun for a small fee, is not Christianity and it is a damnable lie!
For you to find hope at the beginning, middle and end of your story, for you to find true hope at the end of each hard day of yours under this present sun, you must turn your mind to thoughts fantastical! Yes tonight and every night, you must steer your heart to the deepest of dreamy wonders. Tonight you must pass beyond the outer and much restrictive boundaries of human possibilities and step through the portal of child like fancy, into gross and startling human impossibility! Tonight, you must fly, Peter Pan like, into unknown worlds, even worlds to come, worlds that one day, as in the long, so long ago, will once more shatter the space time dimensional boundaries and shine once more in our forever changed and star lit skies. For friends, amidst the frustrations of the long journey which we find ourselves upon, true Christianity will be a dream yet realised, even an unclothed mystery yet to sprout its breasts of fullness. Do not forget tonight, that in our Christian story, the best is always yet to come, yes the best is ever and is always, “Milk and honey on the morrow, with skipping lambs and jam tomorrow.” Tomorrow, as much as you can, enjoy your life under this present sun but expect frustration until heaven doth come.
Listen: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.’” NKJV
Pray: Lord, help me tonight to see beyond the boundary, in Jesus name I pray, amen!
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