Monday, August 6, 2007

Monday Moment: Teeter-Totter Tirade

I loathe teeter-totters.

The only time I ever got in trouble at school was in first grade. I was a skinny, clumsy little bookworm who hated recess. One warm April day, Ms. Shanihan lined us up and explained that we were going to have a 50-yard dash, but instead of marking a finish line, the teacher designated a certain tree as the "end" of the race. The first person to touch that tree, Ms. Shanihan said, won.

As I got into my group, I remember noticing Samantha was there. Big mouth Samantha, my nemesis. Samantha was the tallest, loudest, and meanest kid in first grade. Just that year she'd taken to tormenting my friend Bart, yelling: "BART the FART lives in a cart at WAL-MART!!" every time he walked by. I couldn't stand for it. Suddenly, this 50-yard dash became more than just recess. It was vengeance. For me. For Bart. For all the other kids who were destined to be Samantha's victims. So before Ms. Shanihan blew the whistle to start our race, I told Samantha and the other kids the teacher changed the tree to one farther out, since we were obviously faster runners. On your mark... get set... GO!! Ms. Shanihan shouted, blowing the whistle. Samantha and the other kids bought it, and blew right by the "end" tree without touching it. I won.

I figured it was a fair fight. Mine was a 'brains before brawn' kind of victory, I thought. But Miss Shanihan didn't see it that way. She sent me to the principal's office for lying to my fellow classmates. (I went to a private school. Trickery and 'brains before brawn' were frowned upon.) As punishment, I was banished from further races, and had to watch from the teeter-totter while Samantha and the other kids ran into "end" trees the rest of the year.

Like I said, I loathe teeter-totters. Bad first grade memories. Besides, teeter-totters are boring. You climb on one end and face your buddy on the other end. Then what? You go up. You go down. You go back up. You yawn. You go back down. And if your buddy is your huge cousin Matthew, you don't even go down. You go up once and stay there. Yippee. The only time things get interesting is when your buddy (or cousin Matthew) bails on you mid-air. Then you get a fanny-whacking when you (suddenly and violently) go down.

Yeah. Teeter-totters are the worst. And you know what also stinks? Leaving first grade but still living your life on one. You know what I mean. How many times as Christians do we need to go up - and crash back down - before we realize that we'll always be dissatisfied... we'll always be restless... we'll forever be bored... teetering between living for ourselves and our Savior?

I've always gotten goosebumps when I read this Scripture. I've always thought of a teeter-totter when I read it, too. It's one of Elijah's messages to Israel. In I Kings 18:21, Elijah calls his fellow countrymen to make a choice. He asks, How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.

I looked it up. "Waver" means: "to move freely back and forth or up and down in the air". Huh. Elijah may as well have said: How long will you teeter-totter? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if you... your money... your children... your hobbies... your job... your life are your god, follow them. Either way, quit trying to fool yourself and everyone else on the playground and get off the stupid teeter-totter.

Teeter-totters are the worst for several reasons. One is because I was punished and banished to one in first grade. The other is because I've banished myself to one for half my life by wavering between two opinions. By living for myself when I was called to live for my God. And I can tell you, I was always dissatisfied... always restless... and forever bored. Teeter-tottering isn't exciting - on the playground or in life. It's a constant hovering betwixt up and down... between good and God.

Forget the teeter-totter. It's time to examine the games we're playing. It's time to climb down off our fences and choose a side. It's time to answer Elijah's question:

How long will you waver?


Anonymous said...

I'm a new reader to your blog and I'm a fan; do you teach a class or Bible study anywhere? I want to come if you do. Thanks for the uplifting. James

Brin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adrienne said...

Brin - Thank you again for a wonderful Monday, thought-provoking, moving devotion. Much food for thought here. Wavering is something we never outgrow unless we choose to go on and grow. ~Adrienne

Anonymous said...

ouch!! i needed to hear this, connie

Brin said...

Hi James,

Awh, thanks for the note! I couldn't find an email or blog for you, so: nope, I don't teach a Bible study... but I will be teaching third grade Sunday School this year. You're more than welcome to come, but I hope you like small, plastic chairs and finger puppets! :D

If you're seriously interested in finding somewhere to get plugged in, give me a shout at: freemanhouseandgarden[at] and we'll see about getting you plugged in!

God bless ya, and thanks everyone for your comments and interest.


Sue said...

I just love your examples, you make everyday stuff worth examing, well done!

Penless Thoughts said...

Great post. Next to the Teeter-Totter is the Wide & Narrow Gate. Better be sure of which of those we're going through, too.

bellacolle said...

I hated teeter-totters too! I was always the one getting my fanny-wacked! Noo thank you, no teetering for me...Livin' for Jesus is it!

Lallee said...

I'm just now reading this today~God's timing. I've been letting stress and worry teeter-totter me all day and wack me in the behind over and over. I think I'll turn my gaze to God and talk to Him instead. Thanks, Brin!