Shiny Things

Shiny Things aren’t exactly mirages, because if a glint catches your eye there is almost always something there, it just usually turns out to be worthless. In the desert it’s common to trek over dune and wash to distant creosote bushes into which a tin-foil birthday balloon has become entangled; a genuinely shiny Shiny Thing.

On the other hand I’ve seen flat shale rocks sitting at the perfect angle to reflect the sun’s rays so that they appear shiny but aren’t. Binoculars are a help here, if you can keep them in sight long enough to get close enough to discover they’re outright unapologetic frauds.

And then there’s the third type of shiny thing; the ones that aren’t physically shiny at all. They don’t have that ability because they seldom get out of that space between our ears, bouncing around in there like toreadors with red capes until they get our attention, which, in my case anyway, can take quite some time. These though are the ones that are the shiniest of all. When they get firmly rooted they will become manifest without regard to second thoughts, so don’t think you’ll be able to get away from them by changing your mind even if you wanted to.

The first time I actually remember this happening was when I was a kid in Oregon City. I glimpsed a Mickey Mouse wristwatch in a jeweler’s store downtown, one that had a glow-in-the-dark radium dial that was about the niftiest thing I’d ever laid eyes on. Although I had nowhere near enough money to buy it I did have ongoing income from a paper route. Mickey Mouse, suddenly shining brighter than the sun, somehow grabbed me by the shirt collar and drug me right in there, where the owner let me put it on lay-away.

It took a while but I eventually paid it off and I’ll never forget the afternoon I picked it up. This was the most momentous thing that had ever happened in my young life, and after fastening the leather band on my wrist I could barely tear my eyes away long enough to cross the street, but I somehow made it home. Life was now complete, and all that was left was for night to fall so I could watch time pass in the glow of Mickey’s oversized gloved hands. Wow. Night did fall and the hands did glow above the glowing radium dial, and I guess I fell asleep watching.

And then it was over. Oh it was still a nice watch and I still enjoyed looking at the time displayed right there on my wrist, but all the specialness had gone out of it that first night. I found that both disconcerting and unfair but common, unfortunately, and as it turned out there would be many shiny things in my future that had the wherewithal to derail my attention. For a moment, that is; as soon as I had the shiny thing in tow its allure would evaporate and I’d eventually find myself shanghaied by some new and exotic shiny thing. As the Rolling Stones once said, “I Cain’t Get No Satisfaction” and I couldn’t either, or at least a satisfaction that hung around long enough to encourage contentment.

I thought I had it whipped once. I’d moved from a bustling city in California to a small, remote town in Nevada that I absolutely loved, where I’d started a very successful restaurant and also got hired as a deputy sheriff. One beautiful summer day I was driving my shiny new motor home to a nearby creek to spend a couple days off fishing. It was exhilarating. Clearly, I’d finally reached the pinnacles and there was nothing but smooth sailing ahead. But after I’d set up camp and was rigging my fish pole I was struck by an awful question that seemed to come out of nowhere;

“Is this all there is?“ And just like that the exhilaration was gone.

I stopped mid-tackle-box-rummaging dumfounded, traveling as I had from shiniest shine to dullest drab in the space of a heartbeat. It was awful. Superlatively speaking, sort of, it was most awfulest ever. Stuff like that’ll put you a blue funk for a while, and it most certainly did me. Fishing might have helped had I caught something (but I doubt it) and I hung onto those blues for quite a long time. Years, in fact, punctuated now and then by the lure of a dullish sort of shiny thing with a lackluster that made memories of ol’ Mickey Mouse blaze like a supernova.

However there is something better, and if I were reading this instead of writing it I’d be thinking ‘Oh boy, here comes the sermon’. And I’d be right too, but before that thought has time to dry I’ll throw out the hope that it doesn’t come across like the ones you’d expect to hear from Bible-thumping snake-handlers. I did find God, and his son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit to be the Trinity they are purported to be in the Holy Bible, and not campfire myths invented by Darwinian ape-people who passed them down through the ages around campfires.

If you’re still with me hang in there because I’ve got the proof and it all starts at—where else?—Genesis. That’s where God created the earth and everything on it, and put the whole enchilada under the authority of man. The devil got his oven mitts on it though and it took around 4,000 years for man to get that authority back through Jesus Christ. That’s where we are today. That being true, and it is, then we should be able to control the stuff around us, up to and including those things that seem to just ‘happen’. I’m not sure just exactly how it works but I have seen it work. I have a ’93 Toyota 4runner that lost both the cigarette lighter—known as a cell phone charger these days—and the radio over the course of its life. I still drive the 4runner. The cigarette lighter started working long after my ungainly efforts to repair it, and the radio, well, I thought I may as well give it a try so while I was driving along in silence I commanded the radio to start working in a loud and and earnest voice. Then I chuckled a bit and maybe two seconds later the speakers started blaring out a country station on full volume, pertnear putting me in the ditch.

Stuff like that has happened again and again, not every single time, but more often than not and it still makes my jaw drop open in surprise. You’d think I’d get used to it but I don’t; it is so contrary to the way I lived most of my life mired in the mindset that none of us has control over things that just ‘happen’. It even works when I lose my keys. Just something to keep in mind in case your shiny things have lost their luster like mine did.

And God still heals; there are churches that offer that but you have to look for them. I know Four Square churches do and there are others also, but unfortunately most do not, and if you can’t find one I’d recommend Andrew Wommack Ministries on TV or on the web at awmi.net.

I do believe, now, that the shiny things that go quickly dim are markers on the trail that leads to the One real shiny thing, the One who brings genuine light to the world. It’s not without worldly troubles but it’s somehow peaceful anyway.

And really shiny.