A real-estate agent was driving around with a new trainee when she spotted a charming little farmhouse with a hand-lettered "For Sale" sign out front.
After briskly introducing herself and her associate to the startled occupant, the agent cruised from room to room, opening closets and cupboards, testing faucets and pointing out where a "new light fixture here and a little paint there" would help. Pleased with her assertiveness, the woman was hopeful that the owner would offer her the listing.
"Ma'am," the man said, "I appreciate the home-improvement tips and all, but I think you read my sign wrong. It says, "HORSE for sale."
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One of the most endearing traits of children is their utter trust that their parents will provide them with all of life's necessities, meaning food, shelter, and a weekend at a theme park.
A theme park is a sort of ARTIFICIAL vacation, a place where you can enjoy all your favorite pastimes at once, such as motion sickness and heat exhaustion.
Adult tolerance for theme parks peaks at about an hour, which is how long it takes to walk from the parking lot to the front gate. You fork over an obscene amount of money to gain entrance to a theme park, though it costs nothing to leave (which is odd, because once you've been inside the walls for a while, you'd pay anything to escape).
The two main activities in a theme park are (a) standing in line, and (b) sweating. The sun reflects off the concrete with a fiendish lack of mercy--you're about to learn the boiling point of tennis shoes. Your hair is sunburned, and when a small child in front of you gestures with her hand she smacks you in the face with her cotton candy; now it feels like your cheeks are covered with carnivorous sand.
The ride your children have selected for you is a corkscrewing, stomach-compressing roller coaster built by the same folks who manufactured the baggage delivery system at the Denver International Airport. Apparently the theme of this particular park is "Nausea." You sit down and are strapped in so tightly you can feel your shoulders grinding against your pelvis.
Once the ride begins you are thrown about with such violence it reminds you of your teenager's driving. When the ride is over your children want to get something to eat, but first the ride attendants have to pry your fingers off of the safety bar. "Open your eyes, please, sir," they keep shouting.
They finally convince you to let go, though it seems a bit discourteous of them to have used pepper spray. Staggering, you follow your children to the Hot Dog Palace for some breakfast.
Food at a theme park is so expensive it would be cheaper to just eat your own money. Your son's meal costs a day's pay and consists of items manufactured of corn syrup, which is sugar, sucrose, which is sugar, fructose, which is sugar, and sugar, which is sugar. He also consumes large quantities of what in dog food would be called "meat by-products." When, after another couple of rides, he announces that he feels like he is going to throw up, you're very alarmed--having seen his meal once, you're in no mood to see it again.
With the exception of that first pummeling, you manage to stay off the rides all day, explaining to your children that it isn't good for you when your internal organs are forcibly rearranged. Now, though, they coax you back in line, promising a ride that doesn't twist, doesn't hang you upside down like a bat, doesn't cause your brain to flop around inside your skull--it just goes up and then comes back down. That's it, Dad, no big deal.
What they don't tell you is HOW it comes back down. You're strapped into a seat and pulled gently up into acrophobia, the city falling away from you. Okay, not so bad, and in the conversation you're having with God you explain that you're thankful for the wonderful view but you really would like to get down now.
And that's just how you descend: NOW. Without warning, you plummet to the ground in an uncontrolled free fall. You must be moving faster than the speed of sound because when you open your mouth, nothing comes out. Your life passes before your eyes, and your one regret is that you will not have an opportunity to punish your children for bringing you to this hellish place.
Brakes cut in and you slam to a stop. You gingerly touch your face to confirm it has fallen off. "Wasn't that fun, dad?" your kids ask. "Why are you kissing the ground?"
At the end of the day, you let your teenager drive home. (After the theme park, you are impervious to fear.) W. Bruce Cameron [ www.wbrucecameron.com ]
C.S. Lewis, in one little episode from his book The Silver Chair illustrates God’s invitation and our resistance. Aslan, the lion is representative of Christ and Jill one of us.
This is the first time they meet. Listen:
When Jill stopped, she found she was dreadfully thirsty… She listened carefully and felt almost sure she heard the sound of running water. Jill…looked around her very carefully. There was no sign of the Lion; so she plucked up her courage to… look for that running water. …she came to an open glade and saw the stream, bright as glass… [A]lthough the sight of the water made her feel ten times thirstier than before, she didn’t rush forward and drink. She stood still as if she had been turned into a stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a very good reason: just this side of the stream lay the Lion… “Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion. “I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill. “Then drink,” said the Lion. “May I—could I—would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill. The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic. “Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill. “I make no promise,” said the Lion. Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer. “Do you eat girls?” she said. “I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. “I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill. “Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion. “Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.” “There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
What a powerful illustration this is. We thirst for God. Christ invites us to come and be filled by Him. Yet, fearful of the risk we turn away from Him, still thirsty.
GK Chesterton said it well: Faith and love are apt to be spasmodic in the best of minds. Men and women live on the brink of mysteries and harmonies into which they never enter and with their hand on the doorlatch they die outside. Ravi Zacharias