After spending an afternoon shopping for my grandson’s Christmas gifts and running various errands for a wife who had earlier given me a long list of must-do items…I was startled into an important lesson about life. It came as a shock. In fact it scared me very badly until I realized the truth.
In the back of my old rag top Jeep lay Oren’s gifts for the best three year old boy in the wide world and I was on my way home. My mind was swirling with thoughts about the new direction that many of us feel God is leading our little church. Thoughts of how physically out of shape I feel. Thoughts of an appointment I was going to be late for. Thoughts of at least five marriages that are about to bleed out. Thoughts swirling in my mind like snowflakes in a winter wind around the corner of a house.
The radio was slapping out the music of Bruce Hornsby on the radio and I was trying to sing along to the lyrics:
Listen to the mandolin rain
Listen to the music on the lake
Listen to my heart break every time she runs away
I was singing loud to try to keep up with the popping rhythm of the cloth top of my Jeep. The engine was whining as I cruised down the Boeing Highway towards Mukilteo. Then I heard a siren from somewhere behind me and off in the distance a muted Public Address voice with all the authority that comes with someone who carries a badge and a gun, “Halt! Where do you think you are going?”
I squinted into all of my mirrors straining to get a glimpse of the flashing red and blue lights of the police officer that is yelling at me. I looked ahead and to my right then to my left. He was not ahead of me, not behind me, not beside me…yet the siren was still there and the voice from One Adam Twelve was still hollering at me. I was getting more than a little frustrated and very confused, so I pulled over to the far right lane and wondered what I might have done to irritate the officer so much that he has to yell at me over the PA system and turn his siren on but without flashing emergency lights.
Did I run a red light? Was I speeding? Did I change lanes inappropriately? Did he think I fit the description of a mass murder or terrorist? Maybe he thought I was an Oakland Raider fan. What could I have possible done to incur such wrath when the only thing I had been doing for the last hour was to successfully purchase—not contraband mind you— but toys for my grandson?
I started pulling over to make my way off the highway and be frisked by an irritated police officer who has an authority complex. That badge and gun have gone to this guy’s head, I said to myself. Then the siren went off again and the voice on the PA system from somewhere behind me says, “To infinity and beyond!”
The tumblers in my brain all click in recognition. Buzz Lightyear had fallen over in the backseat and activated his button and he had been cycling through all of his lines from the movie Toy Story.
I started to laugh out loud. It has been a very long time that I obeyed the voice of a toy no matter how authoritative sounding that voice might be. I remember saying, “That is funny right there, Joe. You crossed two lanes of traffic and were about to get out of your jeep, put your hands on the hood of your Jeep and get spread-eagle for a …toy.” That would be a toy story indeed.
I was not expecting to hear from Buzz that afternoon, but I heard from him and adjusted my behavior accordingly. Then I was hit with the thought, “Do you respond as quickly to the voice of Jesus as you did the voice of Buzz?”
*Originally published in 2010