A couple of days ago, I approached a popular intersection in my neck of the woods - one that I go through several times a day most days. There were 4 law enforcement officials with clipboards stationed around the intersection just waiting for people to pull up and stop. Those not strapped in would receive their obligatory seatbelt infraction ticket.
Before I proceed, two things you need to know....
- I was wearing my seatbelt like a good soldier.
- I have no problem with the seatbelt law; some people are stupid (as I'm about to describe) and need legislation to help them.
So I pull up to the intersection, notice the cop at my stop sign look into my car through his David Hasselfoff sunglasses, and sort of give me that nod that says "nice goin' pal - keep up the good work."
However, I couldn't help but notice directly across from me, at the opposite stop sign, a group of motorcyclists. Probably 8 motorcycles in all, with roughly 12 people total on for the ride. Not a helmet to be seen. None of the guys wearing shirts. As little clothing on males & females alike to take in as many rays of sun as possible. Oh, and no tickets being written, either.
Now, I'm in the trusty Buick. If I'm doing 39 mph and have a crash of any sort, many things could happen. Not the least of which is a steering wheel, an air bag, steel, etc. all of which should play a role at some level to keep me off the pavement. Not to mention the seat belt we already established I had firmly snapped into place. BUT, if I'm not buckled up, I get a $25 fine.
Perhaps its just me, but does this make any sense? The dude on the Yamaha? He has an accident of ANY kind at 39 mph, he's in a world of hurt. No protection. No padding. No airbags. Just sort of out there with seemingly nothing.
Its almost as though you're punished if you don't reach the pinnacle of safety (in your car with seatbelt engaged & airbags as a backup), yet rewarded for pushing the envelope of risk (bareback & helmet-free with nothing but sunglasses and a girlfriend holding on tight). I'm surprised the police officers didn't run over and give the motorcyclists high fives! "Way to go! Props to you for throwing caution to the wind! Keep livin' on the edge!"
I couldn't help but consider this as a snapshot of life. My life, at least. Particularly as it relates to being a Jesus-follower. It's easy - perhaps too easy - to take the simple way out. Follow the rules that are handed to us by others. Make sure your seatbelt is fastened when those that matter are looking. Clock in and clock out. Play it safe. Stay well within our comfort zone. And make sure that comfort zone only includes certain types of people. Never take a risk.
I assume that part of the attraction of the helmet-less motorcycle rider is the feeling of the air blowing through your hair and the sense of freedom and exhilaration that comes being somewhat suspended between earth and sky at breathtaking speeds. At least that's what my motorcycle-inclined friends tell me.
Unfortunately, I believe that the Creator God has that same sense of freedom & exhilaration in store for us all! Problem is, we've interpreted "freedom & exhilaration" as some form of cosmic uncertainty. Much better to create some rules. To put on some seat belts. To never take a risk.
I like how The Message states Hebrews 11:1-2 - "The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd." Of course, the entire chapter of Hebrews 11 goes on to describe these ancestors, for whom faith wasn't something you achieved like some sort of finish line or award then sit on for the rest of your existence. Rather, it was an ongoing pursuit that changed and shaped their lives. No seat belts allowed! But rather a life of risk, knowing that He who instigated the risk in the first place was who He said He was. So if you and I believe that God is who He says He is, then....