“Dead men tell no tales.” It’s the creed of good pirates everywhere.
Celebrating a 7-year-old’s birthday this weekend, we stepped aboard the Pirates of the Caribbean boat-ride at Disney World. DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES was scrawled on dungeon walls (in blood? Ooh!) and whispered ominously over the speakers. We rode slowly through caves of lust and loot and observed the bawdy behavior of 1970’s, wildly politically incorrect pirates. I wondered how much my kids were taking in?
Behind “It’s A Small World” this is always my all-time-favorite ride.
Throughout the Disney pirate excursion, we were reminded often about this truth: “Beware! You won’t be able to blab about the treasure, or anything else you’ve seen here, if you’re dead.”
But we’re not dead. Are we?
Somehow, Jack Sparrow, and his rag-tag band of pirates reminds me that I possess the greatest treasure, not pillaged and stolen, but freely and generously given at great cost to the Giver.
I am not dead. So what tale do I tell?
Saul was a threatening and murderous dude in the first century who made it his business to follow the pirate mantra before he was literally knocked off his horse by an encounter with God himself. It’s a great story, I urge you to read it. (Acts 8:1-3 and Acts 9:1-31). You will enjoy it as much as any Disney ride!
I won’t give the story away, but after an epic crisis, Saul was given a new name (Paul) and a new calling. Almost unbelievably, considering his chilling past, he urges us later in 1st Peter “…to be ready to give an account for the hope that is in us, with gentleness and respect”.
“Gentleness” and “Respect” were not in the Top 100 adjectives chosen to describe the former Saul, and they aren’t often used to describe today’s Christians, as a collective group, either. Saul lived through a reckoning, and life changed forever.
We need a daily reckoning, too, saints, and here it is:
YOU CAN BE ALIVE AND ALSO BE DEAD.
The tale I tell with my life in both inner and outer spaces will indicate my degree of aliveness. Can you notice a hope in me by my tone, my demeanor, my boldness, my kindness, my restraint? What do I spend minutes, hours, entire days doing or saying or not saying? Is there any hope in me at all today, or am I floating along the river dead, silent, bored, or afraid?
When I give an account of my hope, is it gentle to others, or condemning? Respectful to others, or controlling ? And by others, I mean husbands, children, friends, neighbors, co-workers – the people that are on the river with me.
Friends, we have a true tale to tell, if we are indeed alive, and this is it:
We are all underground pirates, out for our own pleasure and treasure. My best attempts at securing my own life will fail in the end. Our piles of accumulated loot will eventually rot in filthy heaps or be stolen by other more cunning pirates.
God invites those who are weary (me) into an honest, merciful reckoning to give us a new calling. He pours out real life, and provides a tale to tell that is infused with hope for anyone to see. And by anyone, I mean husbands, children, friends, neighbors, co-workers – the people that are on the river with you. Are you up for it?