What Holds You Up?


 I love that old New York City story about the CEO and the fluorescent tube. Haven't heard that one? Well, where have you been? Not in New York City, that's for sure. 

   I have no idea if the story is true, but I always wish it were—does that help a little? It's just too classic to be dismissed as a 'tale'. 

   He was the CEO of a major manufacturing firm, right downtown in New York City, and he was working late one night, all alone in his office, trying to get something done before some deadline, when the fluorescent light in the ceiling over his desk suddenly flickered and then went out, leaving his half of the office in the dark. 

   He was very frustrated by it—he had to get that work done and he couldn't do it in the dark and so he decided to change that tube himself. 

   Normally not a big deal of course, but the trouble, you see, was that his company was "unionized". Changing florescent tubes was the maintenance workers' job and management was never allowed to do any work that the union guys were supposed to do. 

   Well, I'm sure you know that kind of pettiness always ticks off the management guys, and this man was no exception. Since it was late at night, and not a soul was around, almost out of spite—with a certain amount of glee, in fact—the CEO decided that he would change that tube himself, thank you, and no one would ever know! 

   He boldly marched down to the maintenance room, pulled out one of the seven-foot-long glass tubes, brought it back and made the switch. No big deal. Mission accomplished. It excited him to think that he had pulled this off and that it was never going to be detected! 

   But a couple of hours later, after he had finished all his work, he grabbed his coat and his briefcase and was heading for the door when he noticed it......the old, burnt-out florescent tube!—all seven feet of it!—leaning against the wall, in a corner by the door. He couldn't just leave it there, that was 'evidence' of his 'crime'. In fact, he couldn't leave it anywhere in the building, not even in the dumpster—those maintenance guys would surely see it and be asking about it Monday morning.

   So he decided to take it with him on his way home. There was a construction dumpster not far from where he got off the subway; he could toss it in there without any trouble.  

   The subway that evening was jammed of course, and so there he was, pushing his way in, with his coat and briefcase in one hand and this seven-foot long tube of fragile glass in the other! And of course there was no place to sit, and so he just stood there in the aisle, feeling like an idiot, and holding that tube in a perpendicular, straight up-and-down position, trying to keep it out of people's way, and wishing by now that he had just worked in the dark!

   To make matters worse, at the next stop, six people got on...and four of them grabbed the tube!  A few of them let go right away, of course, as soon as they felt the thing move. But a couple of the groggy ones didn't! They didn't even notice; they just held on. At the next stop, a few more grabbed on. And by the third stop, there were so many people holding on to that thing that it felt just as solid as if it were fastened to the floor! 

   And now he was really in trouble. Now, somehow, he was going to have to extricate that tube from the grasp of those people without breaking it!

   And he was just about ready to do that—in fact, he had opened his mouth to explain it all to them—when, suddenly it dawned on him......that he had already solved his problem! 

   He had already 'disposed' of the tube! When his stop finally came, he just let go and walked away, leaving everybody else holding up the tube that they thought was holding them up! 

   Love it! Rumor has it that, as busy as New York's subways always are, that tube is still standing, ridin' the rails! 

   Like I said, I'm sure it's just "lore", but I do love one of the points that it makes: 

   Just because everybody holds on to something, doesn't mean it's going to hold you up! And—man!—is that ever true in our generation, especially when it comes to the spiritual things. 

   I am shocked at the things people "hold onto" these days—and only because everyone else does it too. Darwinism, atheism, secular humanism, Yoga, eastern mysticism, horoscopes, the Emergent Church, the "inclusive church". Socialism is making a comeback I notice. The list goes on and on. People grab these things in hopes of support when, in fact, they themselves will be doing all the "propping". And when things finally "crash", oh they'll go down! 

   How precious this privilege of being "children of God" Jn 1:12, "rooted and built up in Him and grounded in the faith." Hang on to that, dear ones—and trust nothing else!—hold on to Him "who is able to keep you from falling." Rom 16:25  Because everything else is just fragile glass! 

I love it that you come! 

See you there.                                          RAS

The Man in the Black Car
Preaching the Deeps