Thursday, May 6, 2010

The R.J. Corman Car Game

Plunked in the middle of Kentucky's blue grass are rows upon rows of stark white fences. They roll from one hill to the next like dominoes and stretch on the horizon like a yoga master. They wall off the fiefdom of a 21st century railroad magnate named R.J. Corman.

Corman's presence in central Kentucky is distinctive. Besides the white fences, he has other trademarks: Red spindle-tops adorn white Churchill Downs-like barns. Stone gates to long driveways herald their owner's name. But what really stands out are the railway cars themselves. Around corporate headquarters, several are grouped like fattened cows by the River Nile, all of them, red, all of them, lettered in bold white: "R.J. CORMAN."

So when I drive Neil 45 minutes to his little country school, he and I make the most of our trip by playing what we call, "The R.J. Corman Game." Adults would quickly tire of it, but for a 6-year-old, this game is the bomb.

As we drive, whoever first spots a white fence, spindled barn, stone fence or railway car shouts, "R.J. Corman!" The winner, of course, shouts the name the most.

This would seem to be a pretty open-and-shut goal except for one thing. There are some copy cats along the road, people who have obviously admired the Corman panache and have tried to emulate it with their own red-and-white barns and fences.

Sometimes this really confuses Neil. In his excitement, he'll yell, "R.J. Corman!" only to have me shake my head and say, "No buddy, see? Look how that place doesn't look new or clean. And the fence is white, but it's really old."

"Oh, wight, Mommy," he says in his lisp, substituting his ws for rs. "I forgot!"

The game then goes downhill as we also coast downward and across the Kentucky river. Now there are grey barns, ramshackle homes and derelict structures. Neil loves to "put on his silly face," as I call it, and start pointing willy nilly at these lovely objects. "R.J. Corman! R.J. Corman! R.J. Corman! R.J. Corman!" he gleefully shouts, and I finally have to put the nix on it with a tickle in his ribs and a sighed, "Let's do this again tomorrow morning."

So what's my point in telling you all of this?

It occurred to me this morning, as we were playing this little game, that the return of Jesus to earth will be as easy to spot as ... well ... an R.J. Corman railway car.

Do you ever worry that this anti-Christ stuff will be just a little too confusing for you? Sometimes I have worried that. I'm like any other Christian, pulling out Revelation when I have insomnia and scaring myself with the various prophecies. But the anti-Christ prophecy is the one that scares me the most, because so many people will be fooled by this guy.

And it hit me today: I have nothing to fear. Neither do you, if you really know Him, because just like Neil and I can easily identify the Corman name and Corman properties, knowing them from the pretenders and even those that are obviously not anywhere near "Corman quality," we will also know -- clearly -- when Jesus has shown up.

Check out Matthew 24: 26-31 ... and take heart. It will be as clear to you as R.J. Corman:

"So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

"Immediately after the distress of those days
" 'the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'

"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."

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