"The choices we make change
the story of our life." ©

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Exploding Illusions in Life

Day Three of Seven
August 23, 2006
Guest Blogger: Charles Gibson

Mr. Shobe was the teacher for my Current Events class my sophomore year in high school. He was in his fifties with shorter hair (his name wasn't Chuck though, I don't think), and a product of the depression/WWII generation. He was no nonsense and very straightforward. I can't remember what this assignment had to do with current events, but he wanted us to write down a profession that we thought was dishonorable. In my view, as a 16 year-old, that was a garbage collector. All the stink and mess, how yucky to deal with all that stuff. I wrote down garbage collector expecting him to agree with me. What honor was there in dealing with trash?

Mr. Shobe, to say the least, took issue with my choice. He didn't say "I understand why you feel that way" or " let's look at this from a different perspective." He simply wrote on my paper that I was wrong. That being a garbage collector (meaning someone that drives a garbage truck and picks up the trash, not a dumpster diver) is honorable because civilized society cannot function without the removal of the garbage it generates.

I was a little bit shocked that day, because I wasn't used to being confronted directly, even if only on paper. I think Mr. Shobe wanted something like drug dealer or mafia kingpin, someone who harmed society. I remember little else about that class, but that confrontation was burned into my soul, and the Lord has reminded me of it many times since. There is honor in hard work and honor in cleaning up messes. Not just cleaning up physical messes but beliefs and thoughts that are garbage and lies as well.

I believe that much of the work of us becoming like Christ is about taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:5) and not conforming to this world but being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2).

As I wrote yesterday, I became a Christian when I was 16. It was during the first semester of my sophomore year. It was exciting for about two months. The most immediate change was an instant desire to start going to church every week. I had mostly hated going to church before that. I think it was God's grace that I was not saved until I had my driver's license and could drive myself to church. My family was very sporadic with church attendance, and my growth may have been snuffed out before it started. I went every Sunday, even if the rest of my family was still in bed.

As soon I hit the second semester of my sophomore year, the Lord started to confront my sense of protectiveness and the smug, quiet arrogance that had grown around it. I believed I could pretty much look out for myself. I thought I had life figured out more then the rest of my family, at least spiritually.

Then on January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded. My experience of that event, watching it on TV while working on a geometry assignment in the high school library, was the subject of my first God Allows U-Turns story, published, as I said before, in the American Moments volume.

The explosion was a shock to the nation and to me personally. Here's some of what I wrote (in blue):

"It blew up! The Challenger blew up!"
I was in my high school library when the librarian shouted her announcement. I had been engrossed in a geometry assignment. I liked geometry because it made sense to me. I could apply theorems and corollaries to arrive at a final answer--definite proof. Proof that the world made sense, that I could bring order to my existence.

When the Challenger exploded, I was a new Christian. I knew where I would go when I died, that I would spend eternity with God, but I wasn't sure about much else. Many of my illusions about security in life were shattered in an instant. If one of the most sophisticated machines ever built could erupt into a ball of fire and smoke, then what about my weak attempts to figure out this life? What guarantees exist short of heaven?

When I walked into my geometry class, I quickly saw I was the only one who saw the explosion on TV and knew that all the astronauts had died. I had a choice to make. I could have stayed anonymously quiet, like I had in the past, or just say what I knew. I told the whole class what I had just seen. Out of that event, I had the chance over the rest of the semester to form some friendships and talk about my new faith in Christ. It started with the fact that I rejected the lie that I had nothing to offer and chose to do something different. It was the beginning of allowing God to be my protection.

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