I am a product of the 80’s. I loved listening to the arena rock of the hair bands, I sported my knock-off “Members-only” jacket, cried when I watched “ET” on opening day at the movie theater, and remember when Prince made it rain purple. Those were the days.
I didn’t have my own car in high school. I had the distinct privilege of driving around in my mom’s Mercury Zephyr station wagon, complete with blue vinyl seats and a pumping 8 track player. Needless to say I was completely in awe (and in an acute state of jealousy) when one of the guys drove a brand new, shiny, black, emblem emblazoned Pontiac Trans Am onto our High School’s parking lot on the first day of school. I half expected Burt Reynolds to pop out of the passenger side with Sally Fields on his arm.
That was one amazing car. It was powerful. You could feel the car’s power vibrating through the earth’s core before you could see coming. It was beautiful. So sleek, so shiny, so majestic with that bird sticker thingy on the hood… it was truly a car EVERYONE wanted to ride in.
Fast forward 25 years…
I was on a family trip in southern Missouri. We had just finished a float trip in canoes down a beautiful river and were making our way back to camp. En route, we passed what I call a vehicle graveyard… acres of abandoned and rotting vehicles as far as I could see. I saw large combines, VW busses, car parts, chassis that I didn’t recognize, farm tractors, and ice cream trucks. I tried to imagine the combined value of these vehicles when they were new. It was overwhelming to me.
Then I saw it… it was sitting next to a rotting building. There was nothing to point it out except for the extraordinary discrepancy between my high school memory and what sadly remained of the vehicle in front of my eyes. It was a Pontiac Trans Am. Brown, rusted, no tires, no proud teenage boy at the wheel, and no gawkers taking in the once-amazing view.
What was once bold and beautiful was powerless, broken down, and forgotten.
There is a GREAT television show on the History channel called American Restoration. This show has particular value to me as one who has been changed by God’s redemption story and who labors regularly to see others swept into the same experience. American Restoration is an ongoing story of a company finding abandoned junk and restoring it to its original beauty and power. Over the course of their first four seasons, Rick Dale and his team have restored small items like record players all the way to large road signs. They even joined forces with the stars from American Pickers and Pawn Stars to restore a beautiful car.
Why did that dilapidated car grab me so much? Why do reality shows like American Pickers and American Restoration draw such an audience?
I believe it is because we grieve when we see something that was once bold and beautiful drained of it’s glory. I also believe a sense of hope percolates within us when we watch power and beauty being restored in something. It is as if we have an inner longing to be restored ourselves.
Since 1987, over 26 million Americans have set aside time in the middle of their day to watch the ongoing saga of the Forrester family and their fashion house business, Forrester Creations, on CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful. It is the most watched daytime Soap opera of all time. I remember guys in college racing back to the dorm after grabbing their lunch just to watch it. The Bold and the Beautiful is, ironically, a 27 season story of people doing their best to present the characteristics of boldness and beauty to others, while dealing with the seemingly endless progression of pain, competition, betrayal, mistrust, and survival.
Where do the longings for boldness and beauty come from? Are they helpful longings or are they just wishful thinking, some cosmic joke being played on us by a sinister divine who knows they will never be realized in our life?
I believe the answers to these questions are key in understanding who we are, who we were created to be, and what discipleship ministries in churches should be all about.Back to Blog