Asbury United Methodist Church
Love - Share - Tell - Serve

May 5, 2017

Today I want to talk about rust and stagnation.   Have you ever considered that this set of twins offers more danger to our lives than taking risks?

            Humans are odd creatures. On the one hand, we create as many systems as possible to provide safe living but on the other hand, we turn out in droves to ride roller coasters, see horror movies, go bungie-jumping and take classes to learn skydiving!

            And, just when you thought you’d seen everything, now there is cliff diving in winged suits!  I’ll draw the line there!

            Just maybe there is something inside of us that screams against rusting in place and becoming stagnant. I am guessing that those who resist these twins have the most joyful life.

            At the bottom of things, just maybe God designed us with a drive for growth and mastery. And, when the thirst becomes great enough we will even run in opposition to safety.

            A little less than twenty years ago, movie director David Lynch produced a motion picture entitled The Straight Story.

            (Many people thought this was Lynch’s best film to date; and, it marked a great departure for him to develop a G-rated movie when most of his works included nail-biters such as Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive.)

  But, back to The Straight Story! This film was based on the true life story of an elderly man by the name of Alvin Straight who decided one day that he wanted to visit his brother.

            Enormous hurdles stood in front of Alvin Straight. For starters he had no car or driver’s license. Furthermore, his brother Lyle lived over 260 miles away.

            But, necessity is the mother of invention. Alvin Straight hitched a trailer to his riding lawn mower and headed out from Laurens, Iowa for Mount Zion, Wisconsin.

            This was the late winter of his life!  Even so, Alvin Straight was heading out for the greatest adventure he would ever have!

            There were other ways of course that he could have reached out to his brother.   He could have written or called.   He could have caught a bus or even asked a relative to take him.

            But, here is the deal…Alvin Straight was sick and tired of rust and stagnation!   Reconciliation with his brother overruled his desire for safety and comfort; and, he made it!

            So, now for the Paul Harvey Rest of the Story!  Alvin Straight was played by former stuntman-turned-actor Richard Farnsworth.   Many thought this was his finest performance.

            The Straight Story was Farnsworth’s last film. During the filming of this movie he was dying with terminal cancer and was continually in excruciating pain. He stands very little in the film and almost every shot is from the waist up.

            Farnsworth technically came out of retirement to act in this movie.  It was a tour-de-force performance.

            (Incidentally, I will offer this for free!  Farnsworth deplored profanity and one of his claims to fame is that he performed in over sixty movies and refused to use curse words in any of his films.)

            In spite of our human tendency to rust and become stagnant, again I say that we seem to also possess a force within for growth and mastery. I sort of think that if we take no risks in life then in some sense, we are already dead.

            Have you noticed that the Bible is filled with hair-raising episodes? Old Moses defied the most powerful person on the planet. Joshua led a nation into the Promised Land.

            Little David grabbed five smooth stones and defeated the mighty Goliath with a slingshot. Paul and Silas sat in a Roman prison facing execution.

            Like a Divine trapeze artist, God allows us as much freedom as we can handle!   The good news is that God hasn’t dropped anybody yet!

                “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’ The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved (Acts 16:25-30 NIV)?’”

            Nope! God hasn’t dropped anybody yet.




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