Saturday, July 28, 2007

The little David Caruso on my shoulder.

The little David Caruso on my shoulder.

Some people have a little angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other that argue with each other. I have TV’s David Caruso.

You may know him as the redheaded, pale-skinned Spanish Lieutenant Horatio Caine on CSI: Miami, but in 1994 he was redheaded, pale-skinned Irish Detective John Kelly on NYPD Blue. At the time, NYPD Blue was one of the grittiest shows on television.

Caruso was at the top of his game, getting Emmy nominations, setting the tone for shows to follow like the Sopranos and the Shield. Life was going so well but then he walked away from it all to pursue a film career. His first two movies after his departure from NYPD Blue were “Kiss of Death” and “Jade.” Don’t worry if neither of those sounds familiar, no one on the planet saw them. They’re horrible. They made about a dollar. And for the next seven years Caruso couldn’t get any acting gigs except a string of movies that sound like Steven Seagal films:
• Body Count
• Cold Around the Heart
• Deadlocked
• Black Point
• Session 9

The list goes on and on until he finally landed the aforementioned role on CSI. For some reason though, the media’s lampooning of Caruso’s stupid career move impacted me. I was a freshman in college at the time and was making a lot of big decisions. That’s when I started to hear David Caruso on my shoulder. When I stood at a crossroads with two options before me, he’d quietly whisper “be careful, don’t make the wrong decision, remember Jade. Remember Jade…”

I’d lock up. I’d get nervous that I was going to make a disastrous decision I could never recover from. I was afraid that if I jumped to new job, after a few months I’d realize that the job sucks while the one I used to work at was amazing. The new job or my Jade if you will, would go out of business while the old job would be giving their copywriters bags of gold and ponies to ride to meetings.

But I can’t trust the little David Caruso on my shoulder. He’s a really bad judge of when to wait and when to run. And so were the Israelites.

In Exodus 14 the Israelites are starting their journey out of Egypt. Pharaoh has changed his mind about their freedom and was driving toward them with 600-armed chariots to sweep in for the kill. The Israelites are trapped between an oncoming army and the Red Sea.

In panic, they tell Moses, “Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone?’ It would have been better to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert.”

Moses responds by saying:
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

The first time I noticed that verse in my Bible I underlined “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” I remember thinking, “Wow, what a clear, simple reason I can wait. The Lord is going to fight for me. All I have to do is be still. That verse is definitely going in the God Wad.” (The God Wad is a collection of Bible verse note cards I often carry around in my pocket.)

But then in classic God fashion, in the space between verse 14 and verse 15, He completely changes course.

15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”

I can just imagine Moses, the words “be still” barely out of his bearded mouth, getting that message from the Lord. “What’s that God? Move on? Because I just said wait and there’s, I don’t know probably two million of us and it’s not the easiest crowd to get moving.” But we don’t see that in the chapter so we can only guess at what Moses thought. Based on what happens next he probably just turned to the mass of people that were stuck between the Red Sea and certain Egyptian death and yelled, “Go!”

God told Moses to move on, because he had something better planned. He had something bigger and more spectacular and more dramatic than the combined intelligence of every Israelite in that desert could fathom. He was going to march them through what looked like history’s first and worst recorded dead end, the Red Sea, and wipe out the Egyptian army in one fell swoop. So it wasn’t time to wait, it was time to run.

Traffic lights don’t change yellow before they turn green. They go immediately from red to green. Stop to go. Wait to run. Sometimes it’s like that with God. Wait becomes run within a single breath. Suddenly what felt like it was going to take forever is streaming by you at light speed. And you’re running as fast as you can down the shores of the Red Sea.

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