He replied, “My father and my uncle were human cannonballs in Carnivals. One day my uncle came out of the cannon, missed the net, and hit the Ferris wheel. I decided to go to college.”
The choice between being a human cannonball and going to college seems a no-brainer.
Do you know what else is? Doing it God’s way. Somehow we have this spurious belief that God is a “spoiler” of anything we enjoy or want to do. So, if you enjoy something, it’s probably a sin. And if you didn’t enjoy it, there is no way it’s a sin. That’s a lie. Repeat after me: That’s from the pit of hell and it smells like smoke. It is the exact opposite of the truth. God’s ways are designed to give us a way that leads to fulfillment, joy, and blessing . . . or at least as much as we can get in a fallen world.
Psalm 119, the longest of all the Psalms, is a brief for the law of God. The Psalmist writes, “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways (v. 37).” Then “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies . . . I have more understanding than all my teachers . . . I understand more than the aged . . .” (vv. 97-100). And “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (v. 105).
Frankly, I’ve done life my way (I still do sometimes) and I’ve done it God’s way (I’m getting better at that), and God’s way is always the best. Maybe I’m just getting old so I don’t have the energy to run from him and his love, and to do it my way as much. Or maybe it’s God’s doing. But I have learned that doing it my way is the equivalent of being a human cannonball, missing the net, and hitting the Ferris wheel. I’ve been there, done that, and have the T-shirt. And not only do I own the T-shirt, I even sometimes wear it.
Why do I do that?
I have no idea. I guess sinners sin because they’re sinners. Maybe it’s a part of our fallen nature and we have a self-destructive gene or something. Freud said that we have a “death wish.” While he was wrong about almost everything, maybe he got it right for a change. Maybe it’s my authority problem and my desire to do it my way, even if I hit the Ferris wheel and it hurts. Whatever the reason, I’m amazed at my proclivity to choose the wide gate instead of the narrow gate that Jesus talked about in Matthew 7. The reason I can be honest here is that Jesus said that “many” choose the wide and easy gate. So, you’re probably worse than I am. Okay . . . at least as bad.
All of this is to show you how we, as it were, choose the Ferris wheel instead of college. It’s in the area of repentance.
I knew it. You’re a closet Pharisee and it’s finally come out.
No, I’m not. You just don’t get what repentance is . . . after I’ve taught it a thousand times. (You never listen to me. (: ) Repentance isn’t knowing your sin, working hard, and then succeeding in changing so you can be self-righteous about it. Repentance is a mind/attitude thing. The Greek word means “to change your mind.” Repentance isn’t a neurotic focus on your sin and a promise to change. (That’s probably more ego-centered and prideful than the original sin from which one repents.) Repentance isn’t change, okay? Repentance is the way God changes us if he wants to. In other words, it is putting the ball in God’s court. It is keeping our eyes on Jesus, walking with him, and agreeing with him about who we are, what we’ve done, and our need and our rebellion, and sometimes even being really sad about it. Repentance also includes (and most people leave this out) the love (a “hug,” if you will) that happens when we repent. Christians are not called to repent on occasion; Christians are called to live lives of repentance. That is God’s way of changing us and changing the world. It removes the Ferris wheel.
It’s God’s way.