Do you remember “The Claw”? I’m not talking about the “sitting around the campfire, creepy story so you can’t get to sleep” type of claw. I’m also not referring to the “all you can” eat crab legs type of claw. The claw that I have in mind is the selective force of the universe type of claw found in Pizza Planet. It’s the same Pizza Planet that can be seen in that classic groundbreaking Hollywood achievement known as “Toy Story”. If you remember “The Claw” then you may remember it’s mission to basically select who stays and who goes. At least the little bug eyed alien toys thought so. They worshipped “The Claw”. They believed that their destiny was in the jaws of “The Claw”. Little did they realize that there was someone on the outside who was operating “The Claw” and at least influencing the selection process. I have been that operator during different times in my life. I have been known to hypnotically drop quarters into the slot of one of these machines and try repeatedly to grab the “right” toy out and drop it into the chute of freedom which all toys dream of.
It’s an interesting concept actually. What I mean is, this consumer of change that sits in the foyers of every Wal-Mart in America, constantly feeds into our illusion of worth. The child and the child-like stand and deliver endless streams of quarters in the quest to select the “Pearl of Great Price”, only to receive endless supplies of squish balls and fuzzy dice.
We spend more money than the gross national product of most developing nations only to accumulate garage sale inventory, while what we think that we are truly seeking sits snug and secure behind the glass, doomed to a toy like purgatory, never to fulfill the true destiny of every toy. “The Claw” makes those choices, along with a little help from its human partners. It’s a pretty futile exercise when you think about it, and yet I continue to participate. It’s hypnotic. It’s addictive. Ultimately, what I usually get is not what I think that I really wanted.
It causes me to wonder. Does this not mirror parts of my ministry life? How much time, effort and cash do I go through trying to “select” who could and or should be released from their glass walled prison? How much effort will I spend trying to reach those who might be buried beneath the surface while those on top are beckoning to be lifted free of the pile? What is my “claw” that I wield here and there trying to snatch people from the margins of a meaningless existence? How do I really determine who is worth the cash expended and what gives me the right to be the determiner of that investment anyway? After all, in all likelihood, like my childish counterparts in the lobby of Wal-Mart, its probably my Fathers money anyway. Aren’t they all just toys with the same purpose and same plan, regardless of their appearances and internal stuffing?
Maybe the best use of my time, effort and money would be simply to break down the glass walls that trap so many inside. That might be difficult. After all, they’ve been constructed through years of human meddling and managing. What we need is to get rid of the selection process that unconsciously determines who we believe should stay and who should go. Eliminate the walls that separate us and there is no need for “The Claw”.
I have spent years trying feeding quarters and manipulating “The Claw” trying to painstakingly ease the desirable into the chute of freedom. What’s wrong with this picture? The walls are made of glass. All I really need is a hammer.