Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Trade Off

In two days, I'll be in Wichita, Kansas, Lord willing! I told one of my classes today that I am very thankful to have a car in which I have full confidence of its safety and reliability. It was not always the case. The following is from January 5, 2006.

Love is an overused word in our culture but I LOVE my Toyota Corolla. It helped me survive the evacuation of Houston in light of Hurricane Rita. I drove 50 miles in sixteen hours! My Toyota doesn't have cruise control, a clock, a CD player, or power anything BUT it gets 35 miles per gallon. Before Christmas, I unlocked the driver's side door, pulled up on the door handle, and ..... the handle broke off in my hand! It broke because it's made of plastic. Plastic door handles contribute to the lightness of the Corolla which contributes to its fuel efficiency. I have owned seven other vehicles and I never had a handle break off before. Of course, all their handles were metal which contributed to their being heavier which contributed to their NOT getting 35 mpg. That's the dilemma. Which is more important, great mileage or unbreakable door handles? To me, it's an easy choice. I can still open the door- it just takes a little dexterity and strong fingers. Metal door handles are overrated anyway!

Life is full of trade offs. When teaching economics, we studied zero-sum theory which states that for every money decision a person makes, there is a winner and a loser. When we choose one option, other options lose. I've mentioned I get up at 3:30 a.m. to workout because it's the only time our weight room is available. I balance my need to sleep versus my desire for physical fitness. The country is aghast at the latest mining disaster in West Virginia and the resultant twelve fatalities. A reporter asked why men are willing to do such a dangerous job and the reply was money- good paying jobs like coal mining are hard to come by, especially in an area where there is not much economic diversity. A high paying job versus danger in the workplace is a trade off many will risk. We will do almost anything for money, hence the popularity of shows like Fear Factor. Today, I found a sack lunch in the hallway, left outside a locker. I despise junk on the floor so I brought it into my classroom. There were crackers, fruit cup, and a sandwich. Unfortunately, the sandwich pre-dated Christmas, maybe even Thanksgiving, and was covered with green mold. I asked my students how many would eat it for $50,000. I had several takers. It might have been more if I really had the cash. Jesus says we can't serve both God and money. It's not always money. I am dumbfounded by what kids will do for attention. They equate attention with popularity, a flawed equation. Teenagers will do things they know are sinful to feel they fit in. We aren't naive enough to believe youth are the only ones who struggle making that decision.

The latest Sports Illustrated has a wonderful editorial by Rick Reilly. The story centers on Steve Ketcham, a high school basketball player. A virus severely damaged his heart and left him clinging to life. A heart transplant gave him a second chance and Steve has had a near miraculous recovery. There was no chance he could ever play basketball again, or was there? Against all odds, on December 1st, Steve Ketcham was back in the starting lineup for Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs, a scant fifteen months after he received a donor heart. The doctors gave their blessing even while his mother tried to get tried to talk him out of it. In typical teenage boy wisdom, Steve's response was, "Mom, I'd rather live five years playing ball than ten not having any fun." I have no doubt I would felt the same at eighteen and my mom would have had the same reaction as Steve Ketcham's mother.

In my life, what am I willing to trade for eternal rewards? Peter made the case to Jesus that he and his buddies had left everything to follow the Lord and the scripture verifies this was true. Their Master assures them they would have wonderful compensation on earth in addition to eternal life. Mark, in his account of this story, adds that Jesus also said they would be persecuted. I wonder if that factored into the decision of Judas to betray the Messiah. He had to like the financial gain part but the persecution stipulation? That was not in his original contract, at least the way he read it. That was too big a tradeoff to commit to. We come to the same fork in the road twenty centuries after Judas. The trade offs that matter don't involve door handles or gas mileage, hours of sleep or lifting weights. Bob Dylan sang, "you gotta serve somebody." Joshua made his declaration of allegiance in Joshua 24:15 when he told the Israelite nation, "as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." What a tremendous favor the successor of Moses did for his descendants. Every choice would be weighed after factoring in their relationship to God. Families can still make that decision today. I believe mine has- I pray yours does, too.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Trade offs have been with us since the late unpleasantness in the Garden of Eden."
Thomas Sowell

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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Jon said...

Sounds like a good car coach

Lauren said...

Coach Hero- I look forward to daily reading your entries...It always brings me back to being in your class. Even though I am 94 miles away, with your blogs it always brings me back to 5th period 8th grade bible class. I especially liked your entry today...keep up the good work :)

Peterinhouston said...

Life is full of trade-offs, like buying a car, when we got the milage, we lost the metal handle...However there are some special trade-offs.
While the parents take care their childres, thinking about the time, money... that the parents spent on the kids,what is the trade-off in this case, we do not think the partents are expecting the kids will pay them off with the same time and money when the kids grow up, the parents may just expect to be respected and loved.
Steve, what trade-off will be when God first love us?

Devin Turner said...

My dream car for right now is a light blue convertable volkswagon yay!!