My 6 most smite-worthy moments.
(Originally posted June 22, 2007)
The other day my friend Ryan and I were talking about God. Ryan is kind of my “Fake Christian Consultant” or FCC if you will. He’s not a Christian but he reads everything I write and helps me yank out any words that sound like me pretending to be a perfect Christian instead of just being real. In the middle of the conversation I told him I thought God was chasing after him. His response was instant and puzzling: “If God is trying to kill me, he missed his chance when I got in that car wreck at 18.”
I wasn’t trying to say that I thought God was chasing Ryan down for the purposes of exterminating him. I meant that God loved him and was desperate to love him even more and was running after him. But Ryan’s answer reflected what I thought for most of my life too, “If God ever gets his hands on me, he is going to punish me and make my life miserable.” And once the punishing was over I was convinced that God was going to ask me to become a missionary somewhere horrible like Guam. I’ve never been to Guam but it’s my go to geographical location whenever I need somewhere faraway sounding for an example. But He didn’t punish me. There were definitely some consequences to my actions that I had to face, some responsibility that I had to take, but God didn’t create either of those things. I did and the ability to walk through them with him holding my hand saved my life.
But what about Ryan’s thought, are there moments in life when God has a chance to exit us from the planet and doesn’t? I mean, if you believe that God is all about punishment and ruining good times then shouldn’t he be sending out lighting bolts all over the place? If he’s vengeful and angry and full of spite for people that don’t toe the line exactly, then why am I still alive? Especially considering my 6 most smite-worthy moments.
Instead of going to our youth group leader’s meeting my friend Kris and I got caught stealing basketball cards. The plan was brilliant. We hid them inside a pack of big league chew but yet somehow the staff of Rich’s department store was able to see through this master ruse. The worst part was that a kid I went to Texas with on a three person mission trip was working there that day and came to look at me in shock in that little room with all the televisions.
5. The History of Rap Project
In the ninth grade the most important thing our school did was something called “history day.” Because I was an idiot at the time, I choose to do my history project on the evolution of rap. I made up stuff like “rap censors are often tied to KKK organizations” and other such nonsense. I remember my dad shaking his head in frustration as I cut out photos of Public Enemy for the cork board I would later display with a smirk beside other kids and presentations on Ben Franklin and Da Vinci.
4. Skipping out on the Promise Keepers
My brother Will and I went with my dad to a Promise Keepers event in Syracuse, New York once. Instead of going to the final event we went to look for bootleg tapes. This was before Napster and MP3s so the only chance to get bootleg music was to hope that some hippy had brought a tape deck to the Dave Matthews concert. At the end of the PK event they marched all the sons of fathers triumphantly into the auditorium. My dad was in the crowd scanning the sons looking for us. But we weren’t there, which was not good.
3. Promising my parents I’d send them to Europe
This one still makes me want to throw up a little bit. For my parents 25th anniversary I told them I was giving them a trip to Europe. In front of all their friends I gave them an empty photo album with captions like “Mom and Dad in front of the Eiffel Tower.” I was 24 and haven’t sent them to Europe yet. My brothers still bring this up at family gatherings.
2. The fire extinguisher incident
On Halloween night during my freshman year of college I helped crazy Nate shoot a fire extinguisher under the door of a guy we knew. The smoke from the extinguisher set off the fire alarm and 300 guys had to be evacuated at 2 in the morning. I was put on disciplinary suspension for a year.
1. Drugs & Devotionals
When I graduated from college I got a job writing for a Christian advertising agency that specialized in churches. I was also dating a girl that loved to go to raves. I didn’t want the relationship to end and wasn’t very happy so it made all the sense in the world to dance with glow sticks in dark warehouses at 5AM. There were times where I would spend the day writing prayer devotionals for churches and then spend the night rolling on ecstasy.
I’m pretty sure I’ve done worse things than those. That list is just the first six that popped into my head, but God still loves me. When he caught me, he didn’t hurt me. He hugged me. The embarrassing son. The suspended college freshman. The raving devotional writer. Not because of who I am, but because of who He is. He is love.