Wrestling the floor buffer

February 12, 2013

As many of you know I spent 4 years in the U.S. Navy right out of High School; 1972-1976. There are some (and you know who you are) who would maintain that I wasn’t really in the Navy since I was never on a ship… but that’s a story for a different time.

The military is obsessed with cleanliness and order. If the paint is dry then it needs to be painted again. If there is no place to put it… then get rid of it. If I can swipe a white glove across it and absorb any dust or grime… it needs to be cleaned. You get the idea.

I was stationed in California about an hour north of Los Angeles at the main base for Seabees in the military. If you are not familiar with the Seabees… shame on you. Anyway our rooms were inspected every day by some overzealous Jr. Officer who wanted to give young guys like me trouble. Or he wanted to give us things to do to keep us out of trouble. Whichever it was caused us to spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning, scrubbing and buffing the floors amongst other chores.

I remember the first time I buffed the floor in my room. The buffer was being used by the guy down the hall and I was next in line. I watched him effortlessly swing the machine back and forth on his floor as the scuffs and marks magically turned into a shiny surface. Enough wax on the floor enables numerous touch ups before additional wax is required. We rarely wore shoes in our rooms so as not to accumulate the dreaded marks left by the black treads.

Well, sure enough I wheeled the buffer down to my room, plugged it in and got myself ready to go. I wasn’t really sure how difficult it might be to hold in place so I got a firm grip on the handle and pulled the trigger. The buffer flew across the room with me in tow and slammed into the wall on the far side. I was stunned! How could that little guy down the hall make it look so easy? I assumed I was not holding it firmly enough so I took another whack at it. It didn’t take but a split second before I was bouncing off of my locker with the evil machine. “Oh my gosh, I must be a weakling?!” I thought to myself. I was just thankful that no one had seen me get man-handled by this spinning monster. “Okay, obviously I wasn’t holding it tightly enough!” I spit on my hands, rubbed them onto my pants, grabbed the handle and was taking no prisoners… This time I bounced off of the door. I was humiliated. “Why is this so hard!? I’m holding it as firmly as I can.”

Well it took me too long to figure out that running the buffer requires a person to balance the machine on the floor, not fight it into submission. Frankly once you get the hang of it, you can run it with one hand… or probably one finger… it does the work itself. It just requires balance.

I suppose this can be a lesson about many things in life… balance. But I want to mention something about living the faith because it requires great balance.

It seems easy to point out those who have lost their balance in the faith; those who dwell on seemingly unimportant things like smoking or dancing. I’m not saying those things are good for you, but they are not issues on which Christians need to drive their stakes in the ground and say, “This is who we are! We are the people who don’t do _________ .” Or the people from Kansas who show up at the funerals of soldiers to picket. They have not only lost their balance, they have simply “fallen off.” The folks who will define themselves and everybody else by what we are not supposed to be about and our ultimate destination in Hell, have forgotten or never knew about Grace.

And lest I forget, there are those on the other end of the spectrum who want to dwell on the freedom that Christians have outside of the Law. Freedom, yes. License to sin, NO. Yes, God is a God of forgiveness… but also a God who has expectations for the lives of His children. Those expectations limit total freedom. Even though we are saved by God’s grace and we have freedom with grace, we still must exhibit “works” or a good life obedient to His will, i.e., balance.

All of that being said, in comparison to the world, the Christian life should be out of balance. Do you get that? If so, maybe you could comment and I’ll use the comments for my next rumination.

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