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Lightning McQueen, Doc Hudson, & Psalm 119:11

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You can guess the age of my children by the title of this post.  You may remember the scene I’m about to paraphrase.  McQueen lost a race (and the chance to get out of town) to the old, run-down Doc Hudson because he kept sliding out of the turn on the small town dirt track.

Later McQueen has enough humility to ask Doc how to make a fast-speed turn on a dirt track.  Doc replies, “Turn right to go left.”  McQueen’s humility gives way to this absurd answer (again I paraphrase), “Oh sure!  Your answer is as backwards as this small town.  I guess this is backwards day.  Turn right to go left.  Say good-bye if you mean hello.  Freeze water to make it boil.  That’s great.  Sorry I asked.  Turn right to go left, Huh?!”

You might be wondering what in the world this could have to do with Psalm 119:11, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”  Hopefully it helps us see something significant about the place God calls us to hide His Word – that being our heart.  Too often we reduce the application of this verse to “I should memorize more Scripture.”  And we should.  Personally, I think you ought to know at least one verse for every Bible you own.

McQueen could repeat verbatim what he heard from Doc.  McQueen just didn’t believe a word of it.  It was backwards and absurd, but quoting it was no problem (it made a great punch line for a joke).

A key part of properly applying Psalm 119:11 is to meditate and practice the verse(s) we are memorizing until they become a part of how we understand our world and actually determine the values by which we live our lives.

How easy is it to memorize (and subtly mock, or at least doubt) verses like Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath,” or Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,” or Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,” or I Timothy 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain,” or insert the verse you know but have the hardest time with.

Our goal in applying Psalm 119:11 is like another scene from the Cars movie. McQueen has escaped Radiator Springs and finally made it to the big Piston Cup race (my apologies to all adults who do not currently have small children).  He is near the end of the race when his nemesis Chick Hicks bumps onto the inner track turf.  McQueen’s tires lose traction and as he skids he remembers “Turn right to go left.”  As a much humbled (and therefore wiser) car, McQueen places his life-and-bumper in reliance upon these wise words.

That is the intent of Psalm 119:11.  Not that we know the words of God’s book. But that we have so been changed by them that we cast our lives entirely upon them to avoid the ways of destruction.  When everything else in our culture would join with us in mocking the absurdity of such archaic phrases, we have forged such a bond of love and trust with their Author that doubt seems more bizarre than faith.

Posted on August 3, 2012