Sunday, August 13, 2006

Shake Me Up, Judy!

Remember Charles Dickens ... you know, Ebenezer Scrooge, the ghost of Christmas past, Tiny Tim, "God bless us, everyone." Everybody knows that classic line, right? Through the course of A Christmas Carol, Dickens redeems one of the most dispicable characters in fiction. But not all of his stories are like this.

Dickens also wrote a monster of a novel called Bleak House. It's 950+ pages of 8 pt tiny type! I believe I spent a significant portion of my life one year trying to consume this book. It's a story about a lot of things and a lot of people. In particular, it's about a wide-eyed young dreamer whose "the sun will come out tomorrow" hopes are dashed, crushed, snuffed out and otherwise pounded into the dirt. There's no "God bless us everyone" in this story!

One of the more sinister characters in Bleak House is a ruthless, slimey "loan shark" named Smallweed. He is paralyzed, confined to a wheelchair that is pushed about by his hapless granddaughter, Judy.

In the PBS version of Bleak House, Smallweed is constantly bellowing at the girl to come and reposition him in his wheelchair: "Shake me up, Judy!" It's the classic line of Bleak House, if you ask me.

Which brings me to my point ... finally. Can anything shake us up? Can people change?

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? One, but the light bulb has to WANT to change.

Light bulbs can be changed. But people? We can try to change, but is it permanent? Lasting? Afterall, Judy keeps lifting Smallweed back to his "upright" position, only to have him gradually slide back down again.

"Shake me up, Judy!"

Well, the Apostle Paul was changed on the road to Damascus. Actually, I'd like to say he was redirected. He went from being a zealous persecutor of "the way" to a zealous advocate of "the way." The essence of his personality was kept intact; it's his purpose, his focus that changed.

I won't keep begging God to change those around me; but to change their focus and direction instead. And while you're at it God, change MY attitude about them.

I won't keep nagging God to change my circumstances. Instead, I'll ask him to change the direction of those circumstances; to use them. "Please Lord, don't waste this."

And maybe, just maybe, I'll ask Him to change me.

The Psalmist puts it like this: "Search me, oh God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

I do want to change; to be changed.

"Shake me up, Judy!"

And give me just enough grace for today, Lord.