Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hulk, Spidey and Elmo

I saw the Incredible Hulk in downtown Indianapolis last week.

Actually, I did more than see him, I actually got to fist-bump him. That’s right, Mr. Big Green and I, touching knuckles on the street as a sign of mutual respect between two gentlemen. No words were necessary.

Don’t believe me? Well just ask Spiderman and Elmo because they were with him. All three were headed east towards the downtown mall (or maybe the Steak & Shake). I was headed west towards the Marriott. In deference to the Hulk, both Spidey and Elmo walked a few steps behind him.

Yeah I know there are probably a few of you who think Spiderman should have been in the lead but let’s face facts: unless Superman or Big Bird is also on the streets, the Hulk is always the lead dog; sharing that position with no one.  

And I mean NO one. Not even Ironman (is that correct or should I say “The” Ironman?). Anyway, I passed Ironman too – no, really – about a block later. No doubt he was lagging well behind the others, trying to avoid the Hulk’s considerable shadow and status as the chief superhero of Indy.

But Ironman and I didn’t fist bump. In fact, we barely made eye contact (I think they were his eyes anyway). Truth is, he’s not as friendly as he looks on television.

Some of you may think this little episode only happened because Halloween was rapidly approaching and perhaps these were just costumed party-goers on their way to some function in the area.

I don’t buy that theory. After all, Indianapolis is a large city and I while I felt very safe and secure everywhere I went, I am certain there are always plenty of crime-fighting opportunities for an ambitious trio of a hulking green mass, a web-slinging wall climber and, well, a fuzzy red creature who giggles a lot. (Can’t say I completely understand what superpower Elmo brings to the table but the Hulk accepted him into his group and that’s good enough for me.)

So keep your eyes open, America, because you never know who or what you will meet on the streets of this great country of ours. Maybe you will run into the Lone Ranger pumping gas at the QT or maybe Oscar the Grouch will be in front of you at the grocery store checkout (that’s probably happened to a lot of us, right?).

But even if you don’t have the same kind of hero-sighting luck I had in Indianapolis, here’s hoping you do see something that brightens your day a little bit.

I’m sure it’s out there today. Just keep your eyes open.

P.S. If you do get a chance to meet the Hulk, just settle for a fist-bump and don’t ask for an autograph. I hear he has a bit of a temper.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Directions

The motorcycle pulled up beside me in the Chouteau McDonalds parking lot and motioned me to lower my window.

“Can you tell us how to get to Claremore,” he asked as I leaned out, admiring the shine on his helmet and goggles.

“Claremore? Sure,” I replied, nodding my head. “Get right back on 412 here and go west seven or eight miles, then take the Highway 88 exit and follow 88 on north. It will take you right into Claremore.”

After both he and the passenger thanked me, he maneuvered the three-wheeled cycle around the gas pumps and back onto the highway, headed south. But, instead of taking the on ramp to 412 West, they just continued south, until they were out of sight. That road heads to Wagoner, not Claremore.

Truth is, I have no way of knowing if they ever found Claremore but I am confident my directions were plain and simple. Could it be they changed their mind? Perhaps they decided on a new destination. Or maybe they didn’t hear me clearly over the roar of the motorcycle engine (and the purring of my four-cylinder). That could be a distraction, right? Or maybe they didn’t really believe me and decided to go their own way.

Who knows for sure? All I really know is that the directions they asked for would have worked for them, if only they had been followed.

As I thought about the “wayward motorcyclists” later, I realized I am a lot like them, and so are you. We all want to go somewhere in life; to travel with purpose; to make our time and our journey count for something. And even if we say we don't – guess what? --- we’re traveling anyway.

So, why not follow the directions?

Or rather, the real question should be: What do you really expect to happen when you DON’T follow directions? Surely, you don’t expect things to go as planned when you don’t go with the plan, do you?

“Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do the things that I say,“ asks Jesus in Luke 6:46.  He goes on to say that following His direction is like building a house on a solid foundation. As for not following His direction? Well, you might as well build your house on sand, but get ready, because it won’t be there long. And shouldn’t you expect that kind of result if you don’t follow directions?

It seems so many of us know the directions and commandments from the Lord, yet for reasons known only to us (and to Him), we either ignore them or forget them too easily. Do we decide not to believe? Are we distracted by other things in life? Do we think His way of traveling is not as good as our unknown road to who knows where?

If that’s the case, then you can expect to wander. You can expect to watch foundation after foundation be washed away by the smallest of streams. But be ready, because life’s a long road and there are many storms along the way. If you decide not to follow the directions then you must be ready to waste precious time searching for an intended destination that is nowhere close to where you are really headed.

Again the questions: Why not follow the directions? Why not do what He says?

Open the book. Read the directions. Follow the route God has given for your life. Sure, it’s still a journey and the road still has some bumps and unexpected twists along the way, but it’s a purposeful journey.

One that will lead you to where He has always intended for you to go.