As some of you know, I am an unsuccessfully retired pastor. After serving nearly 20 years as pastor of First Baptist Church in Memphis, and then being part of the founding group of Trinity Church in that area; thinking to retire and teach and write and paint, we moved to the Blowing Rock area. It’s amazing how dumb a person can be — 20 years later, after a teaching stint at Lees-McRae and publishing a few books and enjoying oil painting landscapes — I discover I am in my 15th interim pastorate, at Middle Fork Church.
Well, one of those interims, a handful of years ago, was First Baptist Church in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. A quaint little town, Rutherfordton’s history goes back to the late 1700s and the Overmountain men who marched to King’s Mountain during the Revolution. Not to mention that the first $1 gold pieces in America were minted there.
Anyhow, one Sunday as Pegeen and I were going down to the church in Rutherfordton, I noticed a vehicle parked beside a garage out in the middle of nowhere, so to speak. It was amazing; it was one of those long, long, stretch limos; something you might expect Elvis to step out of. (But he’s not going to; one of my church members in Memphis, a funeral director, put Elvis in his coffin). Now back to what I was saying, nowadays I hear these stretch limos are popular for transportation for high school proms.
But this long, long white limo had an unusual feature. At the rear, where you would expect to see the trunk, there was a pickup truck bed. You heard right; a stretch limo with a pickup truck bed about five doors back! If that wasn’t an unusual sight, I don’t know what is!
Naturally it set me thinking, theologically, that is. Why would anybody attach a pickup truck bed to a limo? Maybe he really, really wanted a limo; but he really, really needed a pickup for his dairy farm, or to haul feed, or whatever. Or maybe when he went looking for transportation, that’s all he could find. Or maybe a relative owned it, and the price was right.
Do you remember a couple of decades ago how you would often see a bumper sticker on the little Volkswagon “bugs” that said: When I grow up I want to be a Mercedes. Maybe when that limo grows up it will be either a normal limo or a pickup truck.
But shucks, people are as funny as that vehicle. Don’t we all see people whose behavior make us wonder what — or who — they will be when they mature? The Bible reminds us that all of us are still “becoming.” Like the caterpillar on the way to being a butterfly, we are all — if we are Christians — being shaped by the spirit of Jesus.
And don’t you think God often looks at you and me and shakes his head with a twinkle in his eye and says to himself: “Well, when they grow up./...” He has a vision, a goal, a destiny for each one of us as we keep on growing up. We are not what we shall be; but thank goodness, we are not what we once were!
Here’s to grown-up limos!
Earl Davis’ column “Raccoon Theology” appears biweekly in The Blowing Rocket. Dr. Davis is an artist and pastor of the Middle Fork Baptist Church (streaming on Facebook) and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.