In the summertime when I was a girl the local theater offered $.25 matinees on weekday afternoons. My sister and I were the oldest kids in the neighborhood and we would round up all the younger ones and head out to the theater on a regular basis. We walked, of course. Everyone would hang on tightly to their quarters and whatever other money they brought for treats. I loved to buy myself a box of Red Vines. The candy was one of my favorites, and, even better, for $.30 I got a whole box filled with those chewy, delicious vines. That was enough candy to last me through the entire matinee - even when it was a double-feature! I felt like it was an incredible value as well, and I would always try to persuade everyone else to spend their money just as wisely. It never worked, though, I was always the loner in the group who shunned popcorn and chocolate for Red Vines.
We spent countless summer afternoons at that theater. Usually our group was the largest group in attendance, and sometimes we were the only kids there. It is surprising the owners kept offering those matinees summer after summer - but I like to think they were more interested in contributing to a sense of community than in lining their pockets. My hometown was not particularly small - around 60,000 people. We lived in Los Angeles County, but events like free movies at our little theater made it feel like small-town America sometimes.
I didn’t fully grasp the idea of small town living until I moved to Pinckney in 1989. I quickly learned what it was like to be part of a small community when I got involved at a local church and met quite a few people there. Between the church and having two kids in school, I was soon acquainted with a lot of Pinckney folks. Whenever I went anywhere in town I was sure to run into someone I knew. It was not an entirely comfortable situation for me - and required a lot of adjustment and adaptation to the culture shock. What a difference a couple thousand miles and 57,000 fewer people can make! The decision to move across this great nation changed my perspective and my life forever.
It’s kindof like the decision I made to follow God. It took some serious commitment to uproot a family and move across country to a place where I had zero connections or experience living. I had no clue about snow or how to drive in it or how to make sure my kids were dressed warmly enough for school. I had to learn it all. In a similar manner, it took serious commitment to trust God enough to place my life in His control.
We make decisions all the time in life, some important and others not so much, and we always live with the consequences of our choices. I chose Red Vines as a kid because even though I was young, I knew they were the best deal available. I chose God as a young adult because I recognized having Him in my life was the best deal available. Just as the Red Vines lasted for the entire matinee - God’s sweet promises and steadfast presence have lasted throughout my life’s journey. As I said before I never had much luck convincing the rest of the gang (sometimes 15 or more) to purchase the Red Vines. But, let’s face it - THAT is a matter of taste buds.
Choosing to follow or not to follow God, I think, is a matter of wisdom. I encourage everyone who reads this blog today to find out what you can about Him and what it means to live for Him. It is not a decision to be taken lightly, for sure. A lot of times I think people get hung up on what they might have to give up if they choose God over whatever lifestyle they are currently choosing. In a small way - I had to give up the salty, buttery popcorn and smooth Milk Duds when I chose Red Vines. But the popcorn and Milk Duds gave short-term satisfaction while the Red Vines endured. I had a treat long after everyone else in our group finished with theirs. It’s like that with God. What I have given up in my life- first of all I gave up with His help, not in my own strength - and secondly - I never felt like I missed out because what I found in God has outlasted every other pleasure I could seek.
Choosing God is a win-win no matter how I look at it. Relationships with people come and go. My relationship with God has endured the test of time. I turned away from drug and alcohol abuse but found I experience the highest highs ever when I am worshiping and praising God. And He positively takes my breath away when He gives me powerful answers to my prayers. In a very tangible way - God has replaced everything I have ever turned away from with something far better.
Somebody asked me to explain that to them once. I realized I don’t have an answer for every supernatural thing God does. I don’t know how to explain His Presence to you if you have never experienced it. All I can tell you is what has happened to me as a result of my decision and let you know you can experience Him in every way possible if you only choose to do so.
If you wish to contact us, any of the Torch leaders would be blessed and honored to talk with you further about our amazing God and how you can experience true life, true hope,true joy and the peace that passes all understanding and outlasts any drug or box of candy!