Saturday, December 17, 2011

Asking Permission

     "Ma'am, do you have a license to fly in the mall?" the security officer asked, his hand on his walkie talkie, in case these dangerous 14 year olds decided to bolt.
     The kids held their helicopters and looked down, allowing their fearless coach to deal with this unexpected bump in the road to Science Olympiad success. Could we go to jail for unauthorized rubber powered helicopter flying in the mall?
     "No," I said.
     "I am afraid I am going to have to shut you down," he said, self importantly, puffing out his blue chest. It was like we were going to have to be shutting down a nuclear reactor the way he said it, rather than just opening a cardboard box and putting the 4 gram copters away.
     "I did ask permission," I added. I did not add that I had asked permission last year, "And no one ever got back to me. I left several messages."
That was true, and in reality, I was miffed that my request hadn't even been acknowledged.
     Next I employed the very best tactic when one wants to appear like one is confident and in control of the situation. One sucks up to the person who is really in charge.
     "Do you have a name and number of someone that might return my calls? I understand you are just doing your job. We just hoped that since the mall didn't open til 10 it would be ok to be here."
     "Well the mall gets a little funny about flying things while people are near. It could cause problems, you know."
     Like what, for crying out loud? These are 4 gram helicopters of soft balsa with rubber band motors. I didn't say that, but I thought it.
    "So who can I ask?"
     "Well. I can ask Tina for you, she's in charge, but I am pretty sure it won't be allowed."
     "Tina! That is the person who never returned my calls! Can I leave you my cell number and have her call me?"
     The kids were quietly packing up our dangerous helicopters, disappointed, as we have yet to have a whole lot of success in our flight practices.  We can practice in a nearby church, but only at limited times since they are so heavily used and they also don't want helicopters buzzing on parishioners heads. We need tall ceilings, like 3 or 4 stories tall, with no obstructions that could trap our copters. It has been nearly impossible to find this. We had hoped we could sneak in the mall during mall walking time before the stores open, but now that door was slammed in our criminal faces.
     Asking permission is at times a real drag on life. The word permission only occurs 12 times in the Bible, and so I can only conclude that asking permission is not a heavenly priority. In fact, in 11 of the 12 cases, it is someone (usually a righteous Godly one) asking permission of some tyrant who is in charge. The only example of permission being granted by a righteous ruler is when the demons who inhabited a man asked Jesus if they could be granted permission to instead inhabit a herd of pigs. Jesus grants them permission and then the pigs all race to a cliff edge, plunge over, and die. I have never understood that story. Were the demons making the pigs jump to their death? Were the pigs trying to escape the demons? And why on earth did the demons want to inhabit the pigs in the first place? Since I can't answer any of those questions, I will focus on the authority aspect of the whole thing. The demons got that part right.
     The only one with real authority is God, and yet how often do I ask Him permission to do anything? Most of the time, I just do it, and hope He approves. Maybe if I asked more frequently, life would proceed more smoothly. I suspect He is often shaking His head and telling the angels, "I am afraid you need to go in there again and shut her down."
     The angels then shake their heads, their halos tipping back and forth sadly, "You would think by now she would learn. She is so impulsive. Shall we send her into the herd of pigs?"
     "Now, now, Angelic host, let's see if we can bring her along more gently for now."
     "Sigh. OK, Lord, she's your creation. Let's go bail her out, sisters...."
     The next morning, I wrote to the church to ask permission to fly our copters.

Mark 5: 12-13
12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
    

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