I just saw Pixar’s latest release "Cars." Besides the great animation, and the ability to make a Hudson Hornet not only look and sound like the original, but also like Paul Newman, there was a layer of real life navigation throughout.
A young and talented race car, (slip in the name of a bright ego-centric up-and-comer here) named Lightning McQueen has been taking the racing world by storm. As a result of his incredible ability to think only of himself, he finds that he is very lonely…no crew chief, nor pit crew left will work with him due to his arrogance.
On the way to the big "Piston Cup" Lightning accidentally rolls out of the back of the team semi while he was sleeping, and gets stuck in a small town called Radiator Springs on Route 66. After doing some damage to the town, the young race car is sentenced to rebuild the road he destroyed…and this is where the journey of discovery begins.
It seems to me that all the stuff we go through in life captures us in the moment, and causes us to believe that the moment is all there is. Unable to see beyond and dazed from the events of the past, we get stuck. In the movie, all Lightning wanted to do was to get unstuck, to get out of Radiator Springs as fast as he could. He was so self-focused that he didn’t see the story he had fallen into, the stories that surrounded him, nor the help next to him that he so desperately needed.
That is so much like us yes? Our moment is all there is… Our self is our consumption…Our location exists only to move beyond…Our dreams are always someplace else…
Since Lightning was stuck in Radiator Springs until he fulfilled his court ordered civic duty, he had to slow down enough to see the story that surrounded him. The entrance of friends, lovers, mentors, partners…authentic community in the most obscure place.
I think God gives us many Radiator Spring moments in life…moments where He has sovereignly orchestrated a dead-end, or a seemingly purposeless stop along the journey that is anything but purposeless or accidental…it is divinely inspired to slow us down enough so that we begin to experience His story that is unfolding around us all the time. Then, we enter into the stories of fellow travelers, who here-to-fore we didn’t even know were on the road.
As we slow down and enter into each others journey down Route 66, God gives us the ability deep within to move beyond ourselves…this movement unleashes within us a capacity to choose differently…leading to a different outcome than we had previously been experiencing. From self-centeredness to selflessness…from pride to humility…from serve-me to let me serve you.
As Lightning enters into the lives of those around him, he receives a mentor that will ultimately help him with his dream. Before, the mentor seemed nothing more than an older car who knew nothing about the world, but as Lightning learned his story, he was open to be taught from someone who had been right where he was at. He also experienced the joy that comes when we overlook the quirkiness of our traveling companions, and how they complete empty patches of our soul.
Perhaps what caught me the most was the choice Lightning made a the end of the movie…with the Piston Cup firmly in his clutch, he sacrificed his "dream" to go back for a car that had been forced off the track, and pushed him across the finish line…
The Radiator Spring stops of life help us make the choices that matter. Winning isn’t everything…how you win does matter… and how you define winning will either transform you into a person that is contagious and influential or merely a trophy collector.
What is it within us that causes us to cheer on and applaud the one willing to sacrifice what we are all striving for…on the outside it doesn’t make sense…we all want to win, we all work to win…we all long to hold the trophy and stand receiving the glory in the winners circle…yet when we experience Lightning stopping at the finish line to do the right thing, we draw in more breath, our eyes widen ever so slightly and the endorphins of joy scream through our body! Why?
Because built within us is the greatest story of sacrifice the world has every known…This story is the why of our soul. it makes every Radiator Springs moment of life ripe with meaning and hope. It is the cosmic Meta Narrative that God loves you and was willing to loose all to gain you…humbling, mesmerizing…confusing.
Make the right choice not the convenient choice. Make the Godly choice not the me-centric choice. Make the sacrificial choice not the path of least resistance choice…you become a creation of the choices you make in life, good, bad, and other. Everyday God gives you divine opportunities to choose wisely…to do this we need to slow down enough to see the story, our story, their story, His story…that battered up old car that you may think has no value just might hold the keys to unleash God’s plan in your life, and those quirky friends along the Route will carry you ac cross the finish line of life.
So, are you trying to get out of Radiator Springs? Maybe you should take a look at the surroundings and see what God is saying to you…there are no accidents in life only opportunities! After all, when you win that "Piston Cup" all you have is an empty cup.