Here’s a story I can tell-
The Orange Cart of Doom
Though I have been in Montana most of my life now I actually started in Minnesota, a great place to grow up in the 70’s. When I was 12 or 13 we were living in a small town called Anoka just a couple of blocks from a huge golf course. You would be surprised how much fun you can have on a golf course after hours— at least until you get caught.
Back in the 70’s before everyone was afraid to let their kids play outside and there were kids everywhere because it was the baby boomer generation, we spent all of our summer days outside, my curfew was the street light, when they came on it was time to come in.
One of the things we liked to do was have sprinkler fights on the golf course. On a hot and humid Minnesota summer day this was just the ticket. In the late afternoons they would start watering the fairways. They had these huge high pressure sprinklers that stood up a foot or so of the ground and went around and round. So a bunch of us would ride our bikes out onto the fairway, jump off and race for the sprinkler because the first person to reach it could grab the sprinkler head and then turn it on everyone else, soaking them with the high pressure stream of water that could shoot a good fifty feet or more.
Then the game was on, the challenge was to get to the person who was controlling the sprinkler and tackle them so you could take control of the jet stream. This usually took several people rushing all at once so that at least one of you could get through without having water blasted in your face.
One day I was triumphantly controlling the sprinkler and daring all my buddies,—all lined up facing me at a safe distance getting ready to make their move— when suddenly they all ran for their bikes and took off leaving me standing there alone with the sprinkler in my hand. It didn’t take me long to figure out what this meant; the dreaded orange cart was coming. The grounds keepers at the golf course all drove orange golf carts and just loved to chase us off the course, usually it was when we were wading in the ponds looking for golf balls to sell back to the golfers. So far, they had never caught us.
Of course being the one at the sprinkler I was the farthest from my bike but I ran for all I was worth, jumped on my really cool 5 speed bike with the custom curved handle bars, a big banana seat, an extra tall sissy bar, a racing slick rear tire, and a multicolored metallic paint job— and peddled as fast as I could. I made it to the edge of the golf course and on to the street thinking; ‘whew, beat them again!”
The orange carts never left the grass and went on to the city streets— till today. Much to my shock and dismay he didn’t even slow down, he jumped that curb and hit that city street like Beau Duke in the General Lee. The adrenaline kicked in in me and I went through them 5 speeds like a mad man. I got not even a full block when he was suddenly beside me crowding me over to the curb screaming at me to stop.
I knew I was done for, there was nowhere to go. So I hit the brakes fearing he was going to mow me down, jumped off the pedals and onto the ground holding the bike between my legs and trying to catch my breath. I didn’t know what was going to happen now, a beating with a garden rake, a week in golf course prison? He just sat there on his golf cart all red faced and yelling. “I’m sick and tired of you kids, I’m going to call the sheriff and you’re going to be in big trouble, don’t you ever let me see you in here again!”
As he was yelling at me it dawned on me that he really couldn’t do anything— what could he do? I certainly wasn’t going to sit there and wait for him while he went all the way back to the clubhouse to call the sheriff. He couldn’t drag me back with him, that would be kidnapping and he apparently realized that beating a kid with a rake wouldn’t look good on the evening news.
So I just stood there and listened to him yell while trying to look thoroughly chastised, which wasn’t too difficult because I wasn’t enjoying this tirade— and what had happened to all my friends anyway?- they were nowhere in sight. I felt like the poor water buffalo that had been separated from the herd by the lions. ‘Thanks for the warning, thanks for sticking by me— it was just me and this madman— grounds keeper Willie. He had caught up with me, the dreaded orange golf cart of doom.
Now, here’s where this fits in, this story that I am able to tell; the Lord revealed to me what I believe happened, all those things that I was referring to last week, the painful memories and anguishes caused by the stories that I cannot tell you, the things that had been dogging me for years, things I had been trying to keep behind me, that I thought I could outrun or that weren’t really a threat to me, as long as I kept on my toes and stayed diligent, They had caught up with me. All these things had piled on to a golf cart at the same time, jumped the curb and caught right up to me.
So, more plainly, here’s what I think happened— why I fell apart. In those weeks of dwelling on the issue of sexual abuse so that I could bring messages of healing from the word, and from the Lord, I had stopped running from the pain for a bit, I allowed the pain that I had been keeping on the horizon to catch up with me.
Spending a season of time in concerted ministry and focus on this issue had allowed all the pain and emotion, all the yuck and sorrow of knowing what too many people I know and love with all my heart, both in my family and in my church family, had been through—it had become overwhelming— it caught up with me, demanded I stop running and then threatened to destroy me, I knew it couldn’t but nonetheless, I suddenly felt all alone and abandoned; ‘Why wasn’t I warned, where did they all go, am I, of all the church leaders and pastors out there, the only one facing this evil?’
The orange cart of pain and despair had caught me, but, just as quickly, in that moment when the terror had caught up, I was delivered. I wasn’t alone, far from it, Jesus was here, is here, with me, and with you who have followed this series. I know now that the Lord wasn’t just using me to minister to you, he was also ministering to me. I wasn’t just carrying the burden of others, I was also carrying my own.
In that moment when the enemy was yelling at me; “I’m going to destroy you, you are in big trouble!” The Lord was taking my burdens, things that I can’t carry alone, things that I have carried for years and things that have been added just recently and said, “Here, let me handle this, let me take that—yes, you do have pain, it is your pain and it is real and I see it even if you don’t or won’t. Let me have it.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me. …
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain. Ps 139:1, 6
We have a Lord who knows us, knows exactly what we need, exactly what we can handle and he shows up at just the right time in ways we can scarcely comprehend, at least not with our minds, but always with our hearts and all we know is that it was wonderful.
We all have stories we can’t tell, things that we have tucked away that maybe only one or two others know about because they went through them with you or because you had to tell someone. I don’t know the answer for you, how you get to a point where the Lord can heal you and free you from them, honestly, I am not even sure that I was completely redeemed from the hurts, but I do know that having my eyes opened to the truth that they were there and that the Lord not just knew, but cared enough to help me to see— that means everything to me, and that alone may be healing enough.