Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blockbuster and God.

Blockbuster and God.

About a week ago I got an email from Blockbuster. It opened by saying, “we hope you’re enjoying your Blockbuster Online Membership!” They then proceeded to tell me why I was about to not enjoy my membership.

Basically, whenever I brought back an envelope with a DVD in it to the store, they would mail it back to their distribution center and give me a free rental on the spot. It was a great deal and was there attempt to win back customers from Netflix. Since they don’t have stores, Netflix can’t compete with this business model. And so I switched to Blockbuster and for $9.99 a month enjoyed unlimited movie rentals.

But now that enough customers have returned to Blockbuster, they’re not concerned about Netflix anymore. That means, programs like unlimited rentals are no longer necessary to generate consumer loyalty. So now, instead of infinite movie rentals a month, I now have the ability to rent 2. My plan went from infinite to 2. I’m not a math whiz, but that’s got to be a 99.999999% reduction in quality of service.

Needless to say, I hate Blockbuster. The interesting thing is that I think a lot of times I assume God is going to treat me just like they did. Right now I’m writing in large part about how nonsensical the story of the prodigal son feels. (He spends all his father’s money on hookers, comes home expecting punishment and instead receives a party.) The world just doesn’t work the way that story does. When someone gets what they need from you, they tend to change the way they treat you. People are always more interested in your jokes when you’re interviewing them for a job. Car salesman treat you like the most important person on the planet until they close they deal. Advertising agencies win new business with their best creative talent but then make their B-teams do the client work once the client has signed on so that the best and brightest can focus on finding new business. Blockbuster woos you with unlimited rentals until their main competitor is weakened and you don’t have another option to choose.

I think the fear of that happening with God forces me to miss a lot of the good stuff he’s got planned for my life. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop with him. I’m into month 11 of the best year of my life but rather than enjoy it, I find myself with an uncomfortable sense of weariness. I feel like someone in a horror movie thinking, “this is quiet, too quiet.” I keep waiting to get Rocky Mountain Tick disease or get fired from work unexpectedly.

But I don’t think that’s how God works. At the bare minimum, it’s not how his word reads. Here’s something I found in Psalm 126: 1-3 the other day:

1 When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

I love those verses, in part because I don’t think there’s enough focus on laughter in Christianity. But more than that, I love that there’s not a “but” in there. It’s not “the Lord has done great things for them, but once He knew he had them he moved on to focusing on finding new people.” It’s not a one time event, joy is a life change.

And so far, I’ve got to say, that joy feels very unlimited.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jon
So, I sent your blog about Blockbuster to this girl in Dallas that works for Blockbuster. She is a die hard pro Blockbuster fan and I'm a fan of Redbox and Netflix, we have a diffcult relationship.

This is her response to me about your blog on Blockbuster and God


Interesting analogy Gib.

However since I'm a die hard blockbuster afficiando i must offer a rebuttal.

Blockbuster & God II

So it never ceases to surprise me just how greedy people can get. I mean you give them something extra and they whine and complain when it doesn't stay that way forever. Three years ago we took away late fees because people thought it was "unfair" to charge for bringing back an item you borrowed past the due date. I mean forget the fact that if you return a library book late you get charged a late fee or if you rent a car and you return it late you get charged for another rental day plus late fees, if you pay your credit card late you get charged late fees plus interest. I mean the list goes on and on but for some reason we were committing some crazy crime against humanity for charging a late fee for returning a dvd late. So in response to be more competitive in a declining industry we took away late fees. Now you pay about $6 and you can have the dvd out for over a month. Yet people still complain. We gave online members free UNLIMITED exchanges in the store as a PROMOTION. You have got to be kidding me if people actually thought that was going to continue on forever. Its same as if a new store is opening and they are running grand opening promotions. Do you honestly think they are going to be giving away stuff for free for the rest of your life. I mean at the end of the day just like any other business we have bills to pay and shareholders to answer to. I mean you still get 2 free exchanges in store every month plus an e-coupon. Still not enough though. So I'm sure you're wondering just how God plays into all this..Well it's like when God blesses us so much, beyond even our own dreams or expectations and yet we still say where's my other blessings, "I need more!" And at times we even get mad or complain or get angry when God takes something out of our lives or doesn't give us exactly what we asked for. Funny how greedy and self involved we are huh? I think we just need to appreciate Blockbuster & God!!!=)