We were into building go-carts when I was a kid. Not anything that was motorized. We didn’t have access to motors, and it’s probably good that we didn’t. But we were pretty good at building and racing push carts (with a long pole) and pull carts (with our bikes).
The earlier models were all wood…and heavy. But then we started to figure out how to take old tricycles and bicycles apart to use the tube frames, axles, and wheels for less weight and friction and more speed. We were at my friends’ house, Paul and David (brothers), when we thought we had designed and fashioned the ultimate speed pull cart. I was the test driver.
Paul and David lived on a block with two nice cement paved alleys that met at a T in the middle of the block. Their garage was on the T, and there was a cement pad in front of the garage, making the T extra wide. It was perfect for high speed tests like ours. But there was one problem. There was also a telephone pole right on the edge of that pad where it met the converging alleys. You had to go on one side or the other.
We started around the block, slowly, with me at the wheel of the newly constructed racing cart. Paul was pulling with a 10 speed, and there was a 25 foot rope between us. After we made it around 3/4 of the block on the sidewalk, it was time to pull into the first alley and get some speed. I kept waving him to go faster and he kept picking up speed. As we got to the center section, because we were going fast, I assumed Paul would go inside of the telephone pole, because the turn would not be as sharp. So I headed left to the pad. But then I saw he was going right, on the outside of the pole. It was too late. By the time I adjusted, it put me on a fast track towards the pole. I bailed, sliding across the cement in my shorts. The pole stopped my skid. Ouch.
That one put me in the emergency room. I have a nasty scar to this day. I was only 10 or 11, but when people asked me how I got hurt I gave a simple answer, “Telephone poles don’t move.”
They don’t. They’re stationary. And that’s good. If they weren’t so solid and stable, the weight of the wire they are holding would pull them over and they’d certainly blow over any time a windstorm came. They have to be solid and secure to do what they are designed for.
Some things are not supposed to move. Some things are supposed to stay the same. If you respect the immovability of a telephone pole, you get the benefits of what it’s there for. If you don’t, you wind up in the emergency room.
I was reading in Exodus and thought of this. When God delivered the ten commandments to his people, he was giving them his moral law, and it was written in stone. God’s moral code does not change. In some ways, it’s like the natural laws he put in effect when he created the universe. If we respect the laws of nature, we benefit from them. If we defy them, we end up dead.
And so it is with his moral law. These are codes around which he created human beings, that govern their relationships with one another and with him. They are as unchangeable as the laws of nature. When we respect them and live accordingly, our relationships flourish. When we defy them, our relationships fail.
Telephone poles don’t move. God’s law does not change. While our culture demolishes itself in its attempt to run over and ram up against it, the people of God can stand out as examples of what God intended human relationships to look like. Something that is made possible by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.