We were checking out of the hotel, Glenn and I, …pulling our loaded cart from the room on the 2nd floor, when we heard it. At first the shrieks were so piercing and frantic that we thought someone down the hall needed a spanking. You know, we thought we were hearing the typical out-of-control child. (You know this child. People call him “out-of-control”, but he really controls just about everything about his family.)
But the screaming got closer to us and, turning around, I saw a three or four-year-old curly-headed boy, tears streaming, panicked cries getting louder and louder, running and peering into every nook of the hallway. It was obvious this child was lost from his parents. I started toward him when the stairwell door opened and a young man said, “Charlie.” At that instant Charlie turned toward the voice and ran into the man’s arms. Charlie’s father said only, “See Charlie…that’s what happens when you play on the elevator. I told you.”
I know Charlie was having fun. The magic doors were open and it was such a temptation to run into the elevator. Then it was fun to push the “1” button when the doors began to close and make them open right back up again. I know his father, busy checking out in the lobby, had said “Charlie, get off the elevator. You’re going to get hurt….Now, Charlie!” But Charlie had to push just one more button. This time he pushed the “2” and the doors closed. This time they did not re-open. This time the elevator began moving and Charlie began screaming hysterically.
Do you play in the elevator? Oh, you know where this is going. I mean, when your Father tells you what to do to avoid being hurt, are you still lured into areas of experimentation with the very things your Father has told you to avoid? When your Father bids you come away from the dangers and draw closer to Him, do you sometimes procrastinate, intending all along to go to Him, but just “pushing one more button” or “watching the magic doors open” just one more time?
Sometimes I think we play in the elevator with entertainment choices. We know the Father is calling us to purity, but we forget that the choices we are making can move us farther away from His protection. Finally, while we are quite oblivious to the danger, the doors may close and we may no longer be even in close proximity to the Father and His will.
Sometimes we play in the elevator with physical lusts. How many teens, like King David, have figured out that lust leads to actions that you can’t undo? It leads to regret that you just can’t fix. Sometimes it puts you on a path that will keep you out of heaven. Sometimes, the doors close.
Sometimes we play on the elevator with our lust for material things. We know that we need to get our priorities aligned more perfectly with the Father’s, but we think, “Maybe I’ll just pursue this one more career goal, obtain this one more possession (that will require me to seek the kingdom second, financially, for at least 24 months, till it’s paid off), or try to get into this prestigious circle of friends. Once I’m there, I’m getting serious about Christianity.” The only thing is, once we’ve “pushed that button” there’s always one more to push.
Sometimes we play on the elevator with our parenting. We think about how we should be having Family Bible time. We know we need to get started. We know that we have got to be more consistent in discipline. We know we need to be memorizing scripture with our kids. We do hear His call from the “lobby.” But, you know, we’re just thinking about what’s right there in front of us at the moment. Playing around is just more fun than being so serious and conscientious about listening to the Father. “There will be plenty of time later to step off the elevator and “straighten up” my act.”
And then, so often, it happens. The door closes and we are tragically separated from the Father. We’re not even on the same floor of the building. And, at last, we “get it.” Our lifestyles have come to mirror the entertainment choices we made. We laughed at sin for so long that it became tolerable in our lives and homes and we are paying high prices for our lack of discernment. Our children did not think we were serious about morality, at all, when we were laughing at immorality. Or perhaps we look around and find that it is almost time to die and we are very rich in things that we are soon to leave behind, but we have no treasures in heaven. Our families somehow missed the importance of seeking the kingdom. How did that happen? Perhaps we, as parents, procrastinated the years of childhood away and we find that the door has closed. The opportunities to draw close to the Father are no more because the Father is nowhere in our proximity. How did we get on “the second floor”?
God doesn’t pull punches about playing around with sin.
“…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” (II Cor. 6:2)
“That’s what happens when you play on the elevator, Charlie. I told you.”