Jack is a NASCAR fan. I don’t know exactly when this happened and I am still in a state of shock, but it’s true. You might as well drape the little guy in camo and rip the sleeves off of his shirts. He is a true Tennessean. This is not something I was aiming for. It’s not the direction I was hoping we were going to go, here. You see, I like the symphonies of Dvorak and Dickensian novels; but everywhere my little boy goes, you’ll see him sporting a hat with a car covered in stickers on it and the number 95 on the bill. Luckily, being only two years old, he doesn’t use tobacco products or have any tattoos… yet.
It all started with Disney, which (being the naive parent that I am) I thought was completely harmless. They produced a really cool movie about cars that Jack is completely obsessed with. He loves the characters, the story, the soundtrack… you name it. And look, I was down with this. I encouraged it. It’s actually a really good movie that tells a great story. (As a side note, Jeremy Clarkson even makes a Cameo in the UK version) So, when we bought the movie on iTunes, Jack was pumped. When we bought the guy a ‘Lightning McQueen’ toy car, he was ecstatic. When Jack needed a ball cap, Christy found one with ‘Lightning’ plastered all over it, which he loved. He now wears it everywhere and cried last night because I wouldn’t let him take it to bed. The only problem is, (and we honestly didn’t notice this at first) Lightning McQueen is a NASCAR. He is. He’s a dang NASCAR. And boom! Just like that, without realizing what we were doing, we turned our kid into a redneck.
Now, I’m back-peddling like mad… wondering if I can redirect this course of Appalachian cultural decent! I’m wondering, “What if I only let him watch youtube videos of Gustavo Dudamel conducting the LA Phil? Can I turn this train around?! How did this happen?!”
Maybe you’ve wondered that before… Maybe you’ve looked at your life and thought, “Wait a second! How in the world did that happen?! That’s not what I planned for! That’s not what I wanted!” Last month one of the sweetest and godliest men I know named Sam found out he has a tumor on his pancreas. He found out because the tumor pushed on the bile duct of his liver, effectively shutting it down and making him more sick and miserable than he has ever been in his life. He lost 36 pounds in less than two weeks and was hospitalized a few times with painful procedures that effected no change in his absolute misery. His friends and family were all looking on this situation and thinking, “Wait… why him? Why Sam?”
I have been reading the book of Leviticus lately where Moses gives this nomadic nation a finely-tuned set of guidelines for how life, worship and justice will all work when they finally reach their long-awaited homeland. In chapter 14, the Lord is talking about what to do when you find mold in your house and how to take care of it. To be honest, I was a bit sleepy this morning while slogging through these civil and religious regulations, but something caught my eye and when I read back over it, I was a bit shocked by this: “The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your possession, and I put a spreading mold in a house in that land, the owner of the house must go and tell the priest, ‘I have seen something that looks like a defiling mold in my house.”
Wait… so the mold came from God?! God put the mold in the house? What is up with that?! The instructions for dealing with the mold were complicated and costly, but the problem came from God!? If you’re reading this and scratching your head, you should be. When people try to come up with answers for why this stuff happens, they almost always miss the boat completely. Folks think God is punishing them for their sins, but we know it’s not that, because Jesus said, “He who hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged.” The Bible actually says that God does what He does and we can’t really know why at all. So you see, I can’t answer the question, “Why would God do something like that?” I never know what in the world God is going to do or what He’s up to. As my friend Tom always says, “I never get invited to those meetings.” Things don’t go our way all the time and there’s no revealed answer for the moldy basements and guys like Sam. The only answer we have is that the God who sometimes sends mold into our homes also sent His own Son to die in our place.