Someone once called the late great Christian rocker and contemporary Christian music pioneer Larry Norman the “original Christian hippie.” He was a pretty radical guy and was a part of the counter-cultural revival of the 1960’s and ’70’s often referred to as the “Jesus Movement.” I was a big fan of his back in the day, and even had a few 8-track tapes of his music.
In 1977 he recorded a song called “Watch What You’re Doing.” It was about the choices we make, and the consequences of those choices. It wasn’t your average Christian song, to say the least. The opening lyrics of the song went like this:
Mama killed a chicken, thought it was a duck,
Put him on the table with his legs sticking up.
Papa broke his glasses when he fell down drunk,
Tried to drown the kitty cat, turned out to be a skunk.
You gotta watch what you’re doing, didn’t you know,
You gotta watch where you’re going, didn’t you know.
I thought of that song this week when I heard the news report out of Connecticut about a woman who mistakenly lit a stick of dynamite during a power outage, thinking it was a candle. At first I assumed this was some sort of click-bait fake news story because it was a little too unbelievable to be true, but a few clicks revealed that it really happened.
After thunderstorms knocked out the power in her Bridgeport, Connecticut home last Thursday, the 30-year old mother of two went to Home Depot to try to buy emergency lighting. The store was closed, so when she got back home, she went into her basement and grabbed what she believed were candles. Instead, they were quarter sticks of dynamite left behind by former residents of the house. When she lit the dynamite, there was an explosion and she suffered serious injuries to her hands and face. She was taken to a nearby hospital, and the last reports suggested that she may lose her fingers. Fortunately, her children were not hurt.
It’s easy to laugh at such a dumb thing, especially from a distance, but I don’t want to make light of someone’s tragedy. It does seem like it would have fit into one of the silly illustrations that Larry Norman included in his song. And the message of that song is all the more applicable: you better watch what you’re doing…even if you’re in the dark!
All of us will make choices this week. Some will be about as dumb as lighting a stick of dynamite for lighting, or trying to drown a skunk. Be assured, “your sins will find you out,” and “you will reap what you sow.” Or, perhaps we can make smart choices and wise decisions based on God’s word that will keep us from facing harmful consequences, and keep things from blowing up in our face.
For instance, you can allow lust to have its way in your life, or you can choose moral purity, and the blessings that go with it. You can choose the worldly pull toward greed and materialism, and live a discontented life, or decide to be a giver, and watch God pour out His provision on your life.You can escalate an argument, and do harm to meaningful relationships, or you can practice self control, offer grace and choose to build up instead of tear down. You can hold grudges–and feel justified in doing so–or you can make the decision to forgive, like Jesus did, and release both the offender and yourself from the bondage of bitterness. And on and on the decisions go.
By God’s grace, you and I have many choices before us this week. To borrow from the words of the knight at the end of the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, let me encourage you to “choose wisely.” And along the way, be careful to “watch what you’re doing,” and stay away from skunks and dynamite.
I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.