Sunday, July 27, 2014

"It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit." — Noel Coward

I have not always been what they call here an “mtu kweli” which means literally a “true man” but idiomatically it means someone who is always honest, has integrity, never deceives you, and never tries to trick you with lies.  It is about the nicest thing you can say about someone, and it is true of me now but only for the last thirty years or so.  Of course, the first story in the Bible about deceit comes from the Garden of Eden where the serpent deceives Eve and she then deceives Adam, but my favorite story of deceit is that of Jacob and Laban which contains the first practical joke in history.  The whole story is in Genesis 29:1-30, but the punchline is “and behold, it was Leah.”  I remember having to take Old Testament in college as a requirement for graduation and I hated it except for this story which made me laugh.  Curiously (if you read the story) about seven years later, my deceit would make the joke on me.  We were living in Los Angeles and took my oldest (and only at the time) son when he was five years old to Disneyland.  They had just opened a new ride called the “Haunted Mansion” and I couldn’t wait to experience it.  Unfortunately, new rides had the longest line and wait was about an hour.  Chris, my son, did not want to stand in line for an hour, so I told him that if he would wait in line with us, he could ride any ride that he wanted to ride.  Chris agreed and waited patiently with us.  The Haunted Mansion was well worth the wait, and when we got out, I asked Chris what he wanted to ride.  He didn’t hesitate, “The sky buckets!”  (see picture at the right)  Now he didn’t know that I had a phobia about hanging from things like ski lifts, tram cars, and sky buckets.  The “Sky Buckets”  would move you from one side of the park to the other with spectacular views from sixty feet up in the air.  I got into our “bucket” with Karen and Chris with more than a little trepidation.  I was doing okay keeping my fear in check and not scaring Chris by screaming and yelling in my panic.  Then, the worst happened.  One of the “buckets” got stuck in the turn-around place, and we were left hanging above the submarine lagoon for forty-five minutes of sheer terror (for me, not for Karen and Chris).  All I could think of was that because we were above water, no fire truck could get its ladder up that high.  I have never been more frightened, and it was a very long forty-five minutes for me.  They finally got the ride moving again and when we got off, much to my relief.  I asked Chris if he had been scared.  “Oh, no, Daddy,” he replied, “ that was the best ride I have ever had. Can we go again?”  That was the last time I tried to trick him into doing what I wanted.   (This was in 1972—twenty years later Disney removed all the sky buckets from their parks.)  As the quote above states, it is amazing that we are frequently shocked when someone tells the truth, but almost never surprised that people we trusted have lied to us.  Christ is “The Truth, the Way, and the Life.”  He taught and lived being true to God, to His calling, and to all who loved Him.  It is the very least we can do.  The truth and doing the right thing is not always convenient, or profitable, but it is always important.  God does not judge us by what others do and say but by our own words and deeds.  If I die tonight, it will be with a clear conscience.  It was not always so.  If it is not true for you, now is the time to make things right between others and with God.  Life is not a dress rehearsal, it is real, it is now, it is “kweli” (true), and what we do will affect where we spend our forever.  A sobering thought, no?   
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