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December 16, 2015

Inflatables

Hi. My name is Mike and I’m a lawn inflatabloholic.

It started innocently enough, with three small snowmen. Eventually I added a Santa. Of course, you can’t have Santa without reindeer, so the next year a Rudolph was purchased. That’s when my addiction started to spread beyond the Christmas season. Halloween is now stocked with a Grim Reaper, a ghost and a set of seven jack-o-lanterns. This year my boys picked out a small penguin to hang out with the original three snowmen and I couldn’t resist getting a nutcracker soldier. Now that I think of it I should have picked up two of them and put one on either side of the front step or driveway. That would have been cool. If I could I would get a leprechaun or pot of gold for St. Patrick’s day. Maybe a bunny or some eggs for Easter. How about a turkey for Thanksgiving? Hang on a second, I need to check something out on Amazon!

I typically stick with the small, cheap ones, but if you wanted to you could get a 6’ Frankenstein for $75 or a 12’ Santa for $150. The sky is the limit really. In fact, I once made my own inflatable for camp one year. It was a 10’ cave troll. I did it all with painter’s tarps, duct tape and staples, but that’s another story.

Whether you get the $20 nutcracker or the $120 Santa in a sled or the $200 dragon there is one inescapable fact that holds true for all of them – even my cave troll. Hold your breath because here it is: When you turn off the fan the balloon deflates. Doesn’t matter the shape, size or color – when the fan stops blowing the inflatable starts sagging. In a matter of seconds even my six-foot-tall Santa is flat as a pancake in the snow. Without a constant stream of fresh air being blown in the shell just can’t remain filled and standing upright. Turn off the fan and moments later it crumples to the ground in a heap. Every time, without fail or exception.

Now I suppose that might be just blatantly and ridiculously apparent to some of you. You read the above paragraph and said “Well, duh! Of course that’s what happens. Thanks for the newsflash Captain Obvious!” And all those comments are well deserved I suppose, but here’s the thing: I’m no different and neither are you. Without a constant wind blowing into our lives, without a steady power flow we deflate. Rapidly, inescapably, every time.

The Bible often compares the Spirit to a wind. In fact, in the original language spirit and wind are the same word. Here’s the thing, unless we, as Christians, have a steady flow of the Spirit working in out lives, unless we have our spiritual batteries continually recharged, unless we are being regularly filled up with fresh inspiration – we deflate. We run out of spiritual gas and before we know it we are laying flat as a pancake in the snow. In the past Christians have had regular times of prayer, reading and meditation built in to their daily routines. In modern times these sacred moments of refreshing have been squeezed out of our overflowing schedules. Ask yourself the following questions:
• How often do I read my Bible outside of ‘church’ times?
• How many times do I pray each day (not the casual talking with God throughout the day kind of prayer but the go into a private space and focus on nothing but talking to God kind of prayer)?
• How often to you converse with God as you go about your daily activities?
• Do you pray before meals or bedtime or first thing in the morning?
• How often do you read spiritually refreshing books or watch/listen to Biblical teaching and encouragement?
• When was the last time you engaged in a serious study of a book or section of scripture (other than Sunday mornings)?
• How often do you sit quietly before God and listen for His voice and direction?

I know what you’re thinking. Sure, it’s easy for me to say all those things because I work for a church and I have nothing to do all day but the things listed above. To some degree you are right, and I’m lucky in that way. However, the truth is outside of prepping sermons and classes, which is just not the same thing, I have just as much trouble finding time to do these things as most of you do. And the inescapable reality is that when I don’t make the time I get deflated. My spirit sags and droops and eventually collapses.

It seems so easy and obvious. Without the consistent flow coming in all the air goes out of my spiritual life. Faster than I might expect. Sometimes without me noticing. But with undeniable consistency. Perhaps that’s why I like having inflatables on my front lawn – that way, every time I drive up to my house and see them lying deflated on the ground I am reminded of what happens to me when I get disconnected from my spiritual power source and what I could be if I insisted on having those moments of spiritual refreshing in my life on a consistent basis – and that’s not just a load of hot air.

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