Mitchell Richards [Words]

Month: April, 2012


Like many of us flies, I don’t have much time to tell you this story. It’s the story of your great-great-great, and a few more greats grandfather. His name was Beacon and I was told his story by my father when I was young, and him by his father, and you must tell your children this story or else it will be lost forever.

Beacon was a rare fly in the way he claimed to be self-actualized, meaning he knew who he was and where he came from and his purpose. He had a bigger picture of life and death, bigger than we can ever hope to have. He knew what we, our people, were and why we are here at this place, but it wasn’t something he ever shared with us. You see, Beacon was aware of everything going on around us, not just us flies.

One day, Beacon was searching for food for his family and his curiosity landed him inside of a car. The man who owned the car was a slob, and Beacon often found easy food here in the bags of leftover fast food the man jammed into his backseat. Beacon was making trips back and forth with food for his family, but he didn’t notice the owner of the car get into it. Beacon zipped through the window into the car just as the driver rolled up the window and drove off.

Beacon was separated from his family and friends and had no idea where he was going. Being the smart fly that he was, he had been in this circumstance before and knew that if he just stayed in the car he would return to his home and family eventually. However, after hours of driving Beacon became suspicious. The drive never ended it seemed. There was never the sensation of turning around and heading home, and when the driver stopped to get gas, your ancestor peaked through the window to see an unfamiliar land of lights and other cars and other people.

The driver got back into his car as Beacon remained hopeful that home was the next destination, but it wasn’t. The driver continued to drive in the opposite direction. He drove through the night and just as the sun began to rise, Beacon woke up to the car stopped and parked. It didn’t move for a long time and he had no way of getting out. The car was cold, much colder than the air of his home.

The driver never returned to his car. Beacon was not starved for food because of the garbage in the car, but he had to get out to find out where he was. He longed for his family, but had no sense of direction as to which way they were or how far away. Beacon somehow squeezed through a small crack in the window as the air outside blew him sideways. This stop was much different than the car rides he had been on in the days before, it was unfamiliar.

Beacon flew as high as he could to see if he could see anything familiar. The car was parked on a bridge overlooking a river, but the familiar sights and smells of home were nowhere to been found. He flew back into the car because it was the only shred of familiarity that he had left.

Somehow, my children, we were all born from this. We are far from our home. This place, this place where we eat and sleep, it is not our home. Only Beacon knows the way home, but he is long since gone. So when you can’t sleep at night because your mind is racing, young ones, realize that it is racing because this place you sleep is not the place we are supposed to be. Right here is not home. We are far from home.

Many of you will leave this place and chase your real home and I will never know if you find it, but, my children, you must continue to chase. Find where you belong, for this place is not where you are from and it is not where you are supposed to be.


The More I Seek, The More I’m Sought

In Luke 15, Jesus gives all these examples of things that are lost, sought out, and eventually found. He talks about this coin, and when the coin is lost the person forgets everything including the other coins, to tear up the house to find it. He tells of a sheep who gets lost and the shepherd who leaves the flock behind to find the one. He also talks about a son who essentially extends his middle finger to his father, takes a bunch of money, and runs to Vegas.

Sometimes I feel a little lost in God’s shuffle. There is what, 9 billion people in the world now? And God is supposed to be God to all of them, regardless if he is the God to them. So out of 9 billion, why would God pay any attention to me? I get this feeling a lot, and somehow God always winks at me and let’s me know that he called dibs on me a long time ago.

I used to play with action figures quite a bit growing up, in fact I think I played with action figures a little too long. Wrestlers were always my favorite. I had all the wrestlers and the rings and everything. I had matches set up everyday, championships, and the whole works. Even right now, within grabbing range, is one of my very first Hulk Hogan action figures.

Each wrestling toy that I had had a story, they had a destination and purpose. Whether they were just a down and out wrestler, never to win a championship, or had a wonderful winning streak going, I knew all their names and their history; the history I had given them. Of course, I had favorites too, perennial champions, main event headliners, and those who always got to be in the steel cage matches.

I had complete control over all of them, and I have always viewed God like this too. I often envision God grabbing action figures (us) off the shelf and playing with them, setting them out on their journeys to success and fame. I imagine him picking up us as action figures, wrestling them around a little bit, with some winning and some losing, and then discarding some of us when our arm falls off or something.

Every once in a while, I feel like God may have lost me under the bed and doesn’t remember that I was once his champion.

When my family moved to Trinidad when I was in the 2nd grade, we had to pack up everything we had and ship it there. It took months for the shipment to get to us, in the shipment were all of my action figures and toys, so it was a boring couple of months. When the shipment finally arrived, I dug through all of my wrestlers to play with them. Honestly, I probably had about 100 or so of them.

But when the shipment arrived, I noticed one was missing. It was the Ultimate Warrior toy with jumping action.

I thought it had to be a mistake, so I searched over all the toys again, but he wasn’t there.

I’ve been that action figure a lot in my life. I think a lot of the times when I feel lost in God’s shuffle, I do stupid things to get noticed, I run away and become the one. I become the sheep, the coin, or the son.

I used to work at this restaurant that served most all of their meals on paper plates. Salads and desserts however went on real, nicer plates. We had hired a bunch of new kids and noticed that a lot of the real plates kept ending up missing. The managers got tired of it happening, so they made us start making a plate count at the end of the shifts. We had x amount of plates and if all those plates weren’t accounted for we had to go out to the trash bags and find them.

Remember, all the other meals were served on paper plates, so digging through the trash was basically digging through people’s scraps and leftover chewed up food. It was disgusting. People are disgusting, and the things they do to their food Is disturbing. But we had to dig through it regardless, all for one plate.

This is what Jesus did.

When we opened the trash bags, we didn’t start cleaning the bag and the paper plates, we just went searching for the real plate. In the same way, Jesus enters into the muck and grease and gross of this world all to come find the one.

He doesn’t enter into the mess and start telling people what they are doing wrong and how to fix it, he enters into the mess and just lives. He enters in and gets dirty.

He doesn’t present us with an easy guide to fixing all of our problems and how to overcome ourselves, he just shows us how to live. He goes and he seeks out the ones that have strayed away. He seeks out the me’s and the you’s, and the coins and the sheep.

He enters into the trash to find the one, and that blows my mind because in my mind God should just be able to pick up the action figure that represents us out of the trash and put us back on the right track, but we aren’t action figures. Instead, God sends Jesus to enter into the trash to get us out of there. He doesn’t send him to ask us how we got there or how to get out, he leaves the other 99 behind and comes to find us.

I’m thankful that Jesus has nothing better to do with his time than to hunt me down in the trash.

Every time I feel like I’m lost it is my own doing because I think I need to know God is there and still paying attention. I need to know that I’m not lost under his bed with a bunch of other weird action figures and headless Barbies. I need to feel His pursuit.

I don’t think this is manipulating God though, I think it is just how we work together. I’m the one sheep that gets lost in the woods often, and I’m sure he gets annoyed a lot when he has to leave everyone else behind to come find me because I thought I saw something moving in those bushes over there.

I have this kid on the soccer team that I coach who is legally blind. When we are playing games, if I don’t pay enough attention, he is wandering around the field, hanging on the goal, picking flowers and weeds, and I have to yell at him to pay attention. To be honest, it can be kind of frustrating when you’re trying to play a game and one of the kids is wandering away not even close to the ball or to the action. Then I just can’t help but laugh about the whole thing because I love that kid so much and wouldn’t trade him for any other player in our league. And the more I think of it, the more I am like this boy and the more I think God just understands my curiosity and can’t help but laugh.

Because when I run away, when I start to wander, I’m not doing it out of disobedience as much as I just want to keep moving. I can’t sit still knowing that God has a plan for me, and I’m impatient because I know that God’s plans are good. I’m the coin, the sheep, and the son. God is never far behind me, and I am never far from his sight. The more I seek, the more I’m sought.

And this makes sense to me, because God is funny like that.

Follow Mitchell on Twitter @MitchellWords

Hands Down: Some Brief Thoughts on Easter

This Lent season, we all pulled together and sacrificed something for 40 days in preparation of Easter. I’m sure it taught us a lot about Jesus and suffering. We all gave up things like chocolate and Facebook. Meanwhile, all Jesus has done this Lent season is conquer death and save the world.

You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to. Pretty much the same thing.

It’s a good thing God was in charge of sending his son to die for our sins and not us. Actually, the more I look at the stories of the Bible the more it just proves to me that God always had Jesus as the plan. The Bible is a collection of stories, especially the Old Testament, of what life looks like when you have people in charge, when you have people trying to save the world. We, as people, can only make it so far.

There are some really good moments in there too, moments when it almost looks like the world has been redeemed and everything is going to be fine. Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark, Moses, King David, and down the line. There is hope in all of these stories, but they never end the way the story of Jesus ends, with salvation and grace and an empty tomb.

It’s a good thing God sent Jesus to redeem us, because if he were to ask me to do it, I’d say, “Sure thing boss.” and then go try and hide when the magnitude of the moment set in.

When Jesus dies on Friday, life faces death and life wins hands down. When the tomb is empty on Sunday, grace goes against sin and grace wins hands down.

So as we celebrate Easter together this year, and move on with our lives by eating chocolate again, or being able to drink soda, remember that the tomb is still empty. Death was defeated and grace has swept over the land.