A local department store just had its end-of-the-season, blow-out sale. My husband and I have become fans of this yearly summer clearance event. When the 48-hour window opened to purchase items for an extra 40% off the already marked down to the lowest price – well – yours truly was ready to shop.
Dennis, my husband, found about a dozen shirts. Now that might sound excessive but who can resist when you only spend $10.00 for $70.00 (or more) name brand, golfers’ knit tops? He couldn’t. My day was equally exciting with purchases from my favorite designers at bargain basement prices. We each came home with an armful of deals.
As we headed for the closet, my husband made a comment about his old garments that hung on the rack. Some pieces hadn’t been worn for years; some no longer fit; some were outdated. “I need to purge,” he said. “One day soon, I’m goin’ get around to it.”
I reminded him that he had made that same comment several days before concerning the boxes of tax records that lined the top self in that same closet. Thirteen, man-size shoe boxes with thirteen years of paper receipts, which is about twice the number of previous years’ records the IRS requires, were in our closet for safe-keeping. “Yep,” he said, “I’m goin’ get around to it.”
Several days later, we had a two-day commitment in Springfield, IL. We loaded our car with some of our latest fashions and headed up the road. After several ministry engagements and one overnight, we were back on the highway for our return trip. We arrived home, unloaded our new clothing from our car, and headed to the closet. The closet door would not open. It was jammed. It was jammed from the inside. It would barely even budge.
I pushed repeatedly until I could work my hand through the opening, feel for the light switch, and turn on the closet light. Not much was visible through the small crack, but I could see the wall where Dennis’ clothing rack was normally mounted. It was bare. No hanging clothes! No stacks of folded linens! No boxes of tax records! Not even the rack, itself! Nothing! In a flash of a second, I knew. The weight of the unpurged heaps of stuff had pulled the anchors out of the wall, unfastened the mountings, ripped open the plaster, bent the metal bars, and thrust the contents onto the floor to create the non-movable piles on the back side of my closet floor. ‘Goin’ get around to it’ was no help at this point in the time line. Now it was more like: ‘should have’ or ‘wish I would have.’
The next few hours were spent painstakingly making a way to get through the barred door and then empting the contents from the closet floor. Hangers hung from every door knob, the shower curtain, and the handles on the dresser. Clothes were draped over the chair backs and piled on the bed. The bedroom floor was lined with stacks. Finally, the unpurged contents had been relocated. All that would be needed was to find a handyman to remount the fixtures so we could refill the closet.
Yes – I did say refill the closet – but only after the purge. The crisis caused that infamous ‘goin’ get around to it’ day to become ‘put if off no longer’ day. Proverbs 12:24 declares: “Diligent hands will rule but laziness ends in forced labor” (NIV). Solomon probably did not have super sales and stuffed closets in mind when he wrote that bit of wisdom, but Dennis and I could not help but apply his words to us. We decided that the updated and revised version of the text should read: “‘Put it off no longer’ hands will rule, but ‘goin’ get around to it’ will (DEFINITELY) end in forced labor.”
Interstates stretched before us. My website inquiry had reported that Dennis and I had 632 miles to drive from our hotel in Dallas, TX to our front door in Collinsville, IL. Interstates – the fast lane for traveling – would get us from where we were to where we wanted to go in the shortest length of time. So, we departed Texas, entered Oklahoma, drove along the multi-lane highways, arrived into Missouri, and were headed for Illinois.
Along the freeway, we passed car after car, truck after truck, billboard after billboard, and exit after exit. While Dennis weaved and bobbed through traffic, my job was to read the signs. A few things caught our attention, like the endless buffet at the Choctaw Casino in Durant, OK or the world’s largest candy shop in Phillipsburg, MO. In both cases, discretion prevailed and we drove past those enticements. Most exits promised the same travelers’ amenities – hamburger havens, gas station necessities, and the chain restaurant regulars. In the distance, we could see the towns; but the interstate buzzed us on every cities’ outskirts as we continue on our quickest route to home.
While yet a little over 100 miles from St. Louis, I noticed a sign for a home-town malt shop on old Route 66, which led us to a discussion about that famous highway that got travelers from here to there before the days of interstates. “Should we take that detour?” I inquired. Since we were making good time, we decided that we would get off at the next exit and make our way over to the older and less used road.
A right turn off of the interstate onto exit whatever-it-was, a two block trip down the street that-I-don’t-recall, and then a left turn onto Route 66; and we were there. By there – I don’t mean at the malt shop; I mean we were on the slower road that showcased the less hurried side of life. There was a city square, a main street, a neighborhood grocery store, plus a kid on a bike. The speed limit went from 70 miles per hour to between 30 to 50. We were forced to stop at intersections. We could see the faces of the people in the oncoming cars. While Dennis still had to keep his eye of the flow of traffic, I stopped reading billboards and turned my attention to the style of the house we just passed or the roses that grew on a trellis in a front yard.
We rolled down our windows for a few miles to feel the fresh air. One local barbeque stand was smoking the day’s meat, and the charcoal smell wafted into our car. We were arrested by sights, sounds and smells not afforded us in our closed-up, air-conditioned car suited for interstate travel. Fun! These scenes were fun to see and smell. Joy! This route engendered smiles, relaxations, and pleasures.
After traveling twenty to thirty miles on Route 66 and going through several small towns nestled along the road, we returned to the interstate. Keeping the pace in the fast lane of interstate driving can heighten the stress level. Our deliberate detour had renewed and refreshed us for the last leg of our journey.
The slower road of life – what unexpected sights await us there! Route 66 is a metaphor for that life-route where we can relish the moment, embrace the now, and linger in the present. I don’t drive that road often enough. I can gulp down a meal and not savor the taste, see the sunset and not view its magnificence, read the headlines and miss the story – you know what I mean. An occasional trip in the slow lane can serve to remind me that life’s journey is not best traveled when I rush through it.
I awakened with an epiphany. Indeed, it was inspiration meets ideology compounded by incentive. The dream could become reality. The course of action from revelation to manifestation was just a few steps of creativity.
It was my daughter-in-law’s birthday, and I had been musing upon what I could get for her. Then the idea struck. She and my son have a pool in their back yard. I could buy small patio companion tables and aggrandize the table tops with ceramic tiles. The ceramic would come from broken pieces of china that belonged to my mother and my husband’s mother. Grandmothers’ china enshrined and encased for posterity and functionality – what a marvelous idea!
Finding the tables was easy. Collecting the family heirloom dishes was effortless. Deciding how to dismantle china plates into china pieces created a little more of an obstacle, but willpower and a hammer did the trick! Next came the assembly phase, which amounted to rebuilding each plate in a mosaic masterpiece while leaving room for the grout.
The final product did not exactly match the ideological dream. There was too much grout and not enough plate. Some elevations of the dish pieces were too high causing the surface top to be uneven and thus unstable to balance a plate or cup. It was neither pretty nor practical. What happened? Where did I err?
Any good engineering or manufacturing guru would have advised me to make a prototype. I should have taken worthless dishes and practiced various techniques of breakage. I should have mounted the try-out pieces on disposable cardboard. I could have even done an Internet search to study someone else’s modus operandi for the break-a-plate-to-make-a-mosaic-skill. Yeah, the ‘should have,’ ‘could have,’ and ‘wish I would have’ lament was at full measure.
God has given mankind the ability to take dreams and to create a world in which those dreams become reality. We all have creative skills, imaginative capabilities, and reconstructive potential. However, we do not have omniscience, which is a God-exclusive attribute to be all-knowing. He made the whole created order by immutable wisdom and then judged by saying, “it is good.” The knowledge we apply in our creations comes from postulating a theory that must be proven through systematic testing methods. What cannot be proven to be false can be validated to be true. We think and try, re-think and re-try, re-postulate and re-make. We work out our miscalculations on our prototypes. After multiple attempts, we can sometimes say “it is good.” If not, we say “I wish I had known then what I know now.”
Whether dealing in the arena of pool-side décor, rocket launches into outer space, advances in medicine, or gigantic government programs, the wisdom of building a prototype is non-negotiable for mankind. Only the arrogant, the ignorant, or the egotistical can boast that ideology meets reality without testing the postulations. All in all, the impact of my lack of foresight was minimal. However, some philosophical and economic experiments on culture may just destroy the heirlooms of our Constitution unless those who have the power to make socially-demolishing and culturally-restructuring decisions slow down long enough to prove the rhetoric through prototypes.
Our nation is again in a season of transition. November elections are looming and the pundits are prognosticating as to which party will gain, regain, or keep the majority of seats both in the Senate and in the House. Who will be the lawmakers in the days ahead? Then, there is the President’s nomination for the newly-opened seat on the Supreme Court. Will Judge Kavanaugh survive the confirmation process and be seated on our nation’s highest court? The same question looms before us: who will be the lawmakers? Laws – who makes them and who must keep them is one of the key components that can strengthen or weaken any nation.
Laws are standards of what is allowed and not allowed. All societies throughout all history have, through either written text or verbal tradition, established the rules by which the populace must comply. Law is imperative to the health of a people. Lawlessness is anarchy, which is a system void of established law-givers, law-enforcers, and laws. Anarchy breeds chaos, disorder, and mayhem because every man is a law unto himself until the guy (or group) with the biggest weapon temporarily subdues the contest.
Whether or not law should govern a people is not the question, nor has it ever been in dispute. The disagreement arises over who is empowered to make the law and over who must keep the law. Each system of government defines those with the power to set the standards. In a monarchy, a king, queen, or emperor sovereignly legislates. In an oligarchy, governing power is vested in a few persons or an elite group. Democracy is rule by the majority of the people, while a Republic is representational of the people but constitutionally designed to limit control from the governing elite and also from mob rule by an omnipotent majority.
The United States was founded as a republic but has functioned in the most recent decades as a democracy and may yet be in danger of morphing into a presidential and congressional oligarchy. Setting the laws of a land is the mandate and the responsibility of the rulers. Who is empowered to make the laws – the representatives, the masses, or the elite – is defined by the style of government a nation adopts.
The next important question is “Who must keep the law?” Is the standard of right and wrong only to be applied to those being governed or should it also apply to those decreeing the imperatives? For example, if an ordinary person is forbidden to kill a personal opponent, should the king likewise be forbidden? Apparently, the Bible story about King David taking the life of Uriah indicates that both king and commoner must obey the laws against murder (II Sam. 11).
What about theft? If law forbids a person to steal a neighbor’s goods, can a collective democracy steal private property, thus exempting themselves from the law they created for the individual? Can a few elite congresspersons pass legislation to which the general public must comply while yet excluding themselves from both the tenet and the penalty? Is the directive of ‘do as I say not as I do’ the basic rule of governing? Is such a legal precedent the intent of the law? Is it justice, fairness, or goodness?
The scriptures define the government of God, which is called a Theocracy. God tells all humanity the canon of His laws. Yet, the God who is above and beyond all that He has created does not exempt Himself from His standards. His law is just and He personifies justice. Only an unjust ruler excuses himself from the requirements of rectitude. Who must keep the law? The answer – everyone!