Life Lessons from Dumbo

Auto-Bingo-OrangeAs a child of the 70’s, I can remember trips from Louisville to Denver every summer with nothing but Auto Bingo to keep us happy. Those were long trips. I’m sure Kansas is a fine place, but the interstate roadsides were vast wastelands to a hot, bored kid. My lovely wife drives a Honda Odyssey and we recently took it on vacation. The van has a DVD player in it for rear entertainment, which totally blows my mind. What I wouldn’t have given to have that in 1974!

The kids decided to watch only Disney classic movies on the trip and chose Dumbo first. I love that movie and actually enjoyed listening to it from the driver’s seat. Most of the others lost too much of the story when I was blind to the action. I could follow Dumbo quite well while the miles rolled by.

The crows are my favorite part of the movie. While I understand the regrettable stereotype that some associate with them, I see them as deep and compelling characters. When I See an Elephant Fly might be my favorite Disney song. Although unintended by writers, their scene with Dumbo shows me two important lessons.

1. I believe people (and possibly crows) can change. When we first meet them, the crows are sarcastic and mock our hero’s dilemma until Timothy dresses them down for their behavior. Their response is one of true contrition and remorse as evidenced by the fact that they soon teach Dumbo to fly. The dialogue is priceless:

Crow: [as Timothy and Dumbo walk away sadly] Hey brother, now wa-wa-wait a minute. You don’t hafta leave feelin’ like that. We done seen the light. You boys is okay.

Timothy Q. Mouse: Please. You’ve done enough.

Crow: But we’s all fixin’ to ‘hep ya. Ain’t that the truth, boys?

Great line: “We done seen the light.” I once lived in darkness, but praise God, I saw the light. Light is available to anyone. It takes only a sliver of light to start a radical change.

2. I believe faith is more important than ability. No one really had any idea if Dumbo could fly. There was quite a risk in pushing him off a ledge with only a feather and his ears. But Dumbo believed that if he had the feather, he could fly.

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Likewise, there is a point at the end of my ability where I need to trust in God’s plan for my life and His reckless love for me. Letting go of the ledge is incredibly hard, but success happens, not holding onto the ground for dear life, but out in the air with the feather. When He has promised to join me in flight, why would I stay on the ground?

Hebrew’s 13:5 says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

As I write this, I confess there are ledges that fear has me clinging to. I’m prayerfully inching closer to the edge.

What ledge are you holding onto?

Church For Rent

I saw an odd sign today and had to investigate. It simply said:

Church for Rent

Because I have been told all my life that The Church isn’t a building, it is the body of believers, I found the rental concept intriguing. Remember the little folded hand thing little old ladies taught you in Vacation Bible School when you were six?

Here is the church

Here is the steeple

Open it up

And see all the people

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How do you rent that? Are you renting people? Because that is clearly illegal and otherwise immoral. Hopefully, no kind of church (collection of believers) would do that.

Are you renting beliefs? Seems plausible, but slightly ridiculous since one church down the road is giving them away and on the other side on town there is one forcing them on any poor soul wandering past.

Maybe you are renting the building. Interesting…what do you do with a church building? This led to a whole other set of questions that forced me to survey the property. My initial investigation told me that this had been a Pentecostal church, most likely a Primitive Baptist church. I narrowed it down because of the booths that I found on the side, I think they are for potluck dinners and that is certainly a Baptist thing. I wiped a window and peeked inside to find a strange box next to the pulpit that I can only believe housed snakes in its day – thus the primitive. One other note, I live in the Deep South where you can’t swing a cat without hitting a Baptist church, so that is always the go-to denomination. (Yes, in this day and age, cat-swinging is discouraged, but only on Sundays with the blue laws and all.)

So if you are a Primitive Baptist Church and someone comes to rent your building (We will take the rental of members off the table because no one is going to pay for a bunch of staunchy guys yelling hellfire & brimstone at you, anyway), do you have a list of belief clauses the perspective renter has to adhere to before they can take over? I mean, you can’t let the building become a pool hall, bingo parlor, or a YMCA – which is just two towels short of a brothel. And what if a gaggle of Presbyterians comes along with their slick predestination/sovereignty of God talk and fermented drink? Do you even let them into the building? How about a flock of Methodists who debate the stickiness of salvation? Or God forbid, a cloister of Catholics? They would be crossing themselves, kneeling, and serving real wine in the very aisles that you used to charge up and down under the influence of the Spirit (not the alcoholic kind, the Holy kind). It flutters the mind to think of the radical change these denominations could bring to this sacred place.

The real question is, why does the church need to rent the space anyway? Tough times, I assume. But who holds the deed? The preacher, chairman of the deacons, or the head of the finance committee? If the church is caput, where does the rent money go? To the three guys probably responsible for its caputness?

You see the dilemma I’d fallen upon. You also know what all of these questions meant!  I simply had to call the number. It rang four times and then to my disappointment, a nasally clerk named Eunice answered the phone with a boring explanation. It seems the church has been vacant for years and the city owns the property.

What seemed like a huge let-down led to one more question – where do they keep the charred remains of the poor slob who foreclosed on God?