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Bumper Car Living

The most thrilling ride at any fair or amusement park for me as a child was the bumper cars.

For a young person who never drove anything, it was a chance for me to simply enjoy the experience of driving.

I spent the first dozen times riding the bumper cars trying to avoid people, avoiding crashes, just so my 8-year-old self can enjoy freedom in a vehicle (this was long before the days of the riding lawnmower). Sure I had a bike, but this was powered by something stronger than my pedaling legs could muster. There was real power under this engine.

Imagine the fact that I tried to avoid having accidents while riding the bumper cars.

While this may be commendable as an adult driver, it clearly missed the point of the ride. Why were these people that I didn’t even know trying to do me in? Ramming their cars into perfect strangers and laughing as they caused such distress and turmoil.

What was so fun about running into someone? Should we be encouraging these kinds of behaviors in children?

It finally took some time for me to realize the purpose of the bumper cars. It was not to get my vehicle safely down the road. Not likely, since the cars were going in a circle. I admit, I can be a slow learner.

Eventually, I discovered the fun. It was actually pretty fun to drive my car into another one, preferably head on, then turn the wheel, stomp the pedal, and do it again. It was a sad thing when the ride was over, or as I saw it, the car “ran out of gas.”

As a pastor, I realize that “we all alike sin, but we do not sin alike.”

Everyone struggles with some hurt, habit or hang up. To deaden or relieve the pain of our hurt, we try to anesthetize it. Most addictions are the result. We then live in a bumper-car existence. In pursuit of our chosen target, whether it is drug, drink, food, or any of the other addictions, we rush toward the chosen object that promises us relief from our pain head-on. We crash right into it but eventually the promised relief wears off. The temporary weak connection that we make subsides. We leave the scene and pursue another target. The target was unimportant. There were no precautions or apologies needed. We buy another ticket and do it again.

The problem is when our bumper car collides with reality the ride always comes to a conclusion, a stop. It’s over. No more tickets can be bought. The park is closed.

That’s when most people with addictions think they will die. But there is help and recovery. There is a real connection to be made with a Power greater than our addiction.

God, help me stay out of the amusement park and on the road to life.

Rev. John Moxley can be reached at jmoxleydillwyn@gmail.com.