Sunday, April 29, 2012

What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me - Part 7

Several years ago, I was involved in a prank that rated 10 out of 10 on the camp prank scale.  Yes I was the youth minister at the time.  Our group was stationed in two different cabins - one for the guys and one for the girls.  One night, the girls made the mistake of leaving all their swim stuff out on the railing in front of their cabin to dry.

I remember laying there in the dark talking with the guys, when I wondered out loud, "wouldn't it be cool if we took the girls' swim stuff, tied it in a long rope, and strung it between the roof of that shelter out there and the light post?"  It wasn't ten seconds before the guys were out the door.

The prank was fantastic.  One of our guys (that I was sure could handle it) climbed on the roof of the shelter and taped the "rope" along the entire length of the roof.  Two of the girls had their own life jackets.  They made up the ends of our "rope".  We sent the tallest guy (happened to be a counselor) up the tallest step ladder we could find positioned on top of a picnic table.  He fastened the life jacket about 17 feet up the light pole.  It looked like this.

I was sure to wake up early.  I crouched behind my car and watched the girls jump to try to reach their stuff.  They weren't within five feet of the lowest point.  That was one of the most joyful small-scale moments of my life.  Kind of sick isn't it?

Getting to the point...

The truth is, I don't engage in pranking very often, though I must say I'm quite good at it.  The reason being that pranks quickly go from harmless and funny, to super irritating, to outright harmful very quickly.  All it takes is for the intensity to build as each side seeks revenge.

When we extrapolate this phenomenon to our marriages, things can get really hairy.  I know one of the biggest problems my wife and I were having in our marriage crisis is keeping score.  It just seemed like we were piling on more and more baggage as we would bring up what the other did last.  We just couldn't move forward.

The same goes for the way we interact with our kids.  It's so easy at the end of a "bad day" with Jr. to point out all the stuff he has done the entire day, even though he was punished and said sorry for each infraction.  It's overwhelming to a little one to face everything he's done wrong for an entire day.  It's overwhelming for a grown up, for that matter.

Luckily, God doesn't act like that with people.  I cower at the thought of facing condemnation for all that I've done today, let alone my entire life.  Yet, Jesus took my place on the cross.  A really interesting aspect of the cross that I have yet to hear outside of my seminary classes - Jesus, being God, experienced the infinite punishment of mankind in a finite amount of time.  It's the bigger picture of the cross - more than a man dying.  Many men have died for the Way.  Jesus showed us how valuable it is to have a zero-balance account.

1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love is not " . . . irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged"(NLT).  It's not just that when we love, we don't get irritable.  It's the full sentence.  Not only should we stay pleasant, we simply can't keep record of wrongs, then let the record tick us off.  If we do, the little prank war will get out of hand before we know it.  The tit for tat game will quickly become our entire relationship with our wives or kids.

We have to lead the way in letting it go.

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