Friday, October 21, 2016

Willy Wonka: "Don't. Stop. Come Back."

When I enter daily life following my bucolic morning quiet
time with the Lord, I often find myself quickly forgetting Him and everything
I’ve just read and meditated upon. 

For instance, as soon as I'm on the phone with the
business personnel of my local health clinic, “discussing” why the
powers-that-be won’t honor my insurance discounts, or when I log on to Google
News and begin reading about how, in my estimation, the world is going to hell
in a hand-basket, or when I react (instead of thoughtfully respond) to a
statement made by my husband, it’s as if I had never spent time in relationship
with the Triune God at all.

Time and time again, I am disingenuous as to how I could possibly, yet again, allow--completely, voluntarily and of my own
volition—my thoughts to go down an ungodly path: thoughts that, when not
taken immediately captive under the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians
10:5) materialize into ungodly words and/or actions.

Now, thanks be to God for His indescribable gift of Himself,
I don’t always forget Him, nor
forsake Him. But any time that I do
forget Him is one time too many.

Saying “I’m only human” doesn’t cut it anymore, since, as
born again Christians we’re no longer “only” human: we are in the world as the
people of God’s kingdom, not of the world’s kingdom.

Yes, it’s true that “all have sinned and fall short of the
glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but that doesn’t mean we accept that truth as a determiner and excuser of our actions!

One of the joys of our salvation is that God now makes us
aware of sin, and in fact warns us of
its imminence. But we have to listen to His voice in order to not act on our
own inclinations. I liken this process to the scenes in the original 1971 motion picture
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory:

“Stop. Don’t. Come back.”

That is what God will say to us when we decide to dwell on ourselves (or on other people in the context of ourselves) instead of on Him.

Philippians 4 is pretty straightforward:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good
repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you
have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and
the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

Not difficult to understand during our reverent commitments
to God to “do His will,” but very difficult to remain steadfastly and
unwaveringly dedicated to when the rubber hits the road. 

Why is that?

I think it’s because, instead of dwelling on the glass half
full components of Philippians 4—within a right understanding of the fear of
the Lord—in which we humbly acknowledge that, outside of the Lord, all have
turned aside and become useless, and
there is none who do good, not one (Romans 2:12), we dwell on anything and everything else.

Even Christians can step
outside of the Lord, not salvation-wise, but self-wise. It all depends on what
we choose to dwell on.

So whatever is truenot
imagined, supposed, expected to happen, surmised, feared, speculated, desired—is what
we dwell

Whatever is honorablenot
lusted after, vengeful, levels the playing field, gets even,
disrespectful, coarse, vulgar, shallow, hurtful—is what we dwell on.

I think we get the picture: whatever is not of God is
what we eradicate,
beginning with our thoughts. 

God is always present,
always warning, always re-directing, always guiding. 

We have to want Him, not more than our anger, but instead of. Not more than our need to defend our rights (or desire to be
right), our need to be the parent, our need to be
understood, our desire to have people commiserate with us, our desire to dig in our heels, our need for human affirmation, our desire for popularity, our obsession for a million “likes” on
Facebook, our desire to prove others wrong, our compulsion to find
fault, our habit to be critical, our wish to be pretty, our wish to be handsome, our need or desire to be______________________ (ill in the blank) but instead of.

We have to want Christ, not more, but instead of. 

Christ has given us His kingdom in which to thrive. And yet,
we so often go our own way and do our own thing, perhaps not living terrible
lives, but incurring struggles, stress, conflict and victimhood where Christ’s
peace and contentment could reign, even in the midst of catastrophes, tragedies
and confusions beyond our control. 

There is one thing with Christ that leads to
all else and it is this, Christ Himself:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will
give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Sometimes it helps to have a man-made hook on which to
initially hang our trainee hat. So with the caveat that this is an entirely
secular portrayal, I do find value in the Wonka movie, often hearing Gene
Wilder’s voice corroborating that of the Holy Spirit when the Holy Spirit says, “Stop. Don’t. Come back.”

The ending of the Willy Wonka movie also contains rather
close parallels (albeit cute and sentimental) to obedience to Christ, heavenly attributes and joy in the journey. And while I’ve never been a fan of
“happily ever after” I am a fan of having life, and having it to the full (John

I think that’s what Willy Wonka is talking about, and I know it’s what
Christ is about.  

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