Moving Forward

Moving Forward, Out of the Fire and Into the Frying Pan

“Where are you now?” Ed, my old neighbor from Saskatchewan, asked on the answering machine? He admits that it was much easier keeping track of our whereabouts when we lived next door. When I called him back and told him we were at our granddaughter’s high school graduation, Ed scoffed at such events. “Why do they have a significant event concerning a person’s jump out of the fire into the frying pan?” he asked.

“During high school you are continually firefighting smoky classes, choking on subjects that burn your eyes, and blister your patience. There is an infernal furnace of assignments, tests and exams until, at last, you are done your ordeal,” according to Ed. In high school, Ed majored in flirting with girls, smoking cigarettes, being both late for class and absent from school, smart remarks, and was a frequent participant at detentions. He viewed his graduation day as a release from prison.

“How was your granddaughter’s graduation?” he wanted to know. I told him that there were 500 graduates allowed to invite eight guests each, so 4000 people filled the stadium to witness the event. It was well organized and in less than one hour and a half the whole 500 were graduated. The 4000 guests behaved like it was a sporting event cheering, clapping and even blasting with air horns at the names announced for each graduate.

I suspect that in a sense, my old neighbor is right that finishing high school will land the graduates in the even hotter, frying pan of life. Moving on to college or university, jobs, marriage, etc. will put each one of them in the sizzle of the rest of their lives. Speeches on graduation day suggest that those graduating have so much potential that they can accomplish everything they will ever desire.

The Bible relates the lives of people lost in situations beyond their control. Potential and accomplishment are not simply a matter of human will, but a blessing by God. Jesus did not seek out the brightest and the best to build a kingdom of impressive accomplishments, wealth, power and recognition. Jesus helped those caught in positions of hopelessness.  He helped a man who was a danger to himself and others.

Jesus sailed to the country of Gerasenes and when he stepped on land was met by a man who wore no clothes and who lived among the tombs. Many times he had been kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles. He would become so tormented and wild he would break his restraints and flee into the desert. Jesus understood that many demons controlled him, and he sent the man’s evil spirits into a large herd of swine. The pigs rushed down the hill and drowned.

Those herding the swine rushed into the city to report what had occurred. The people came out to see what had happened. They found the wild man in his right mind, clothed and sitting at Jesus’ feet. The people were fearful and asked Jesus to leave which he did. The cured man proclaimed through the whole city what Jesus had done for him. Bright or hopeless folks can move forward with God’s blessing. Potential does not necessarily result in accomplishment.

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Raymond Maher
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