Every home has appliances that run continuously. Refrigerators and freezers come to mind. When you live in Phoenix, you can add ceiling fans to that list. In the Valley of the Sun, where it’s either warm or hot, ceiling fans rarely get to rest.
The one in my living room is on high this particular day. A buddy of mine stopped by to talk about some grad school classes we were taking. In tow was his little boy. Johnny was not quite four years old. He’d brought a friend with him, too. A small teddy bear he clutched in his hand.
While I visited with his Dad, my one good eye glanced down at Johnny. He was now tossing it up and down, a couple feet into the air.
“Careful, Johnny. Please don’t throw your bear”, said Dad.
We continued to talk about grown up stuff while Johnny, for about a minute, kept Teddy grounded. Yet I knew it wouldn’t be long before Teddy would again take to the sky. Because I was a little boy once. Little boys don’t hold things. They throw things.
Johnny began to toss Teddy again. Except this time I saw Johnny staring at the ceiling fan. The expression on his face was that of a mathematician doing theoretical equations in his head.
Teddy bear + altitude + spinning ceiling fan = ?
Trying to stay under his Dad’s radar, he was nonchalant in his attempts to put Teddy into a higher orbit. Dad noticed after the third throw. In an “I already told you once” voice he said, “Johnny! I told you not to do that. Stop it!.”
We went back to our conversation about upcoming exams. But I knew from the expression on Johnny’s face that we were T-minus 15 seconds from going where no bear had gone before. Johnny couldn’t resist.
3…2…1…Lift off! We have lift off!
The launch was a thing of beauty. Vertical momentum intersecting with the horizontal spinning blades. It was a direct hit. My ceiling fan sent Teddy flying across the room at a speed that would have impressed Chuck Yeager. Newton was right. An object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. The unbalanced force, in this case, was my bookshelf. Teddy slammed into it like a crash test bear.
“Johnny! I told you not to do that!” Dad is not pleased.
I’m not sure what I expected from Johnny. Some tears, probably. Some embarrassment, maybe. A running to his Dad to bury his face in a trouser leg, perhaps.
None of the above.
Johnny stood in the middle of the living room, face reddening, anger building. Fists at his side he went into a crab pose that would make any body builder proud. Through clenched teeth he looked to the ceiling, pointed, and yelled.
“Bad fan! That’s a bad, bad fan!”
Who are you pointing at today?
As human beings, we are loathe to take responsibility for our own sin. Dr. Grant Howard described this behavior as “hurling”. We don’t want to take responsibility for our sin so we point at someone or something else. As human beings, it is inherent in our fallen nature. It goes all the way back to Genesis 3 and the Garden of Eden. When God asked Adam why he ate of the forbidden fruit, Adam “hurled” and said, “It’s this woman You gave me.” When God asked Eve about it, she “hurled” and said, “It was the serpent…”
And as the old joke goes, when God asked the serpent about it, he didn’t have a leg to stand on.
Psalm 139 says, in part, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. See if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” It’s a scary prayer. Because it gives God permission to point out our sins and shortcomings. Yet when we stop pointing at the ceiling fan, raise our hand and say, “My bad. I did it”, we discover the incredible freedom of God’s forgiveness.
It’s not the ceiling fan’s fault. I know. It’s hard for me to admit, too. Yet there is freedom in confession. God loves to forgive and get us back on the path toward the abundant life He has for us.
“When we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
Todd A. Thompson – toddthompson.net