Terry Esau is a fantastic writer. I just love analogies and metaphors and parables and stories that seek to describe the human condition and the divine conspiracy in this world. Stories have a way of connecting with me in ways that logical, didactic teaching doesn’t.
Anyway, Terry Esau wrote a book called: Blue Collar God / White Collar God. It’s a creative little book. Not only does it contain some amazing analogies, metaphors, parables, and stories, but the author packages it in a unique way.
One half of the book is about God as a Blue Collar God, “common, ordinary, regular, approachable, accessible.” Esau writes:
“I want to bring him down to the level to which he willingly brought himself; down to earth, down to us. He pressed the button for the basement of existence, becoming sub-God, trading in his puncture-resistance for human flesh” (pp. 1-2).
The other half of the book is about God as a White Collar God:
“To say he’s successful would be quite an understatement. To say he has entrepreneurial inclinations would be stating the glaringly obvious. To say he’s a big shot, a big wheel, a big deal, the big cheese, would be selling him short on ‘bigs.’ The name embroidered on his white collar pretty much says it all… God. Think about it. His address? Heaven–it’s about as white-collar as you can get” (p. 1).
The unique part of the book isn’t that the author has two sections, it is that you have to flip the book over to read the other section. In each section you read toward the middle and then you flip to the other section and read back to the middle. Pretty cool!
I wanted to write down short descriptions of each analogy, metaphor, parable and story so I could recall what the story was about so when I come across a certain area of teaching in youth group, church service, Bible study, small group, or one-on-one conversation, I can point people to one of these stories as needed.
So here are the synopsis of each account:
Blue Collar God
The Shirt Tale. Metaphor of what the Trinity (“The Look”) is up to in a closet of shirts that look like “the look” and how “the Blue Leisure Suit”, Satan, the enemy wants to rule the shirts and does for a while. Story is told from the perspective of the enemy.
Christoholics Anonymous. Parable of Jesus showing up to a meeting where people find it challenging and embarassing to be a follower of Christ. Jesus asks them to get to know him, spend time with him then they won’t be embarassed anymore. Most of the group leaves… only 12 remain.
Garbageman God. A story about God’s persistence in removing garbage in our lives, but we humans have to recognize it as trash and bring it to the curb. God offers, but he doesn’t force or intrude. Specific garbage mentioned was lust (as an example).
“You gotta bring it to the curb–and leave it there. Until you decide that it’s trash and bring it on down, I can’t touch it. I’d like to. But, we got rules you know” (p. 36).
The Hitchhiker. A story about Christmas with a Santa, a heaven-bound and an earth-bound traveler. Modern day twist on the Christmas story and its implications for our lives!
Bum Insurance. A story that insinuates that we humans are all bums in need of “life insurance” from a bum peddling “hope for now if you got hope for later.” We are all bums!
To Tell The Truth. A creative look at who the real Jesus is and what he’s about. The crowd doesn’t often find the real Jesus very attractive and will readily jump on the bandwagon of a counterfeit in our own image.
The J. C. Cab Company. A short story about God owning a cab company in NYC and Jesus is an immigrant taxi driver. First rider isn’t “lost” so uninterested in who Jesus is and the “direction” he might want to take his fare. The second rider recognizes she’s lost and asks the driver to tell her where to go… someone who knew she was lost, desperately looking for direction.
God’s Watering Hole. A parable about an ineffectual church and its owner, God’s, persistence with those who satisfy their thirst with anything other than what he offers, but ready to deliver to those who are willing and desperately thirsty.
White Collar God
The Big Is. A barnyard debate over which came first, the chicken or the egg? A wise old hen shares about the BIG IS and all the isn’ts.
“We never did figure out which came first. But then, we’re cows. How could we? My guess is the hen had it right; there’s gotta be a someone somewhere before there can be a something. Seems to make sense. I think I’m just gonna hang out and keep an eye peeled for Someone… the Big Is. And when I see him, I’ll ask him which came first” (p. 16).
February Fire. Mr. Wellington’s fire beautifully illustrates how “cold” we are a part from God’s presence and how we humans long for something “warm” and meaningful. When we discover a “fire” that satisfies, it lights and gives meaning to our own lives and often it serves as a beacon of light and warmth and meaning to those around us!
“I spent the day in a dreamland. I knew this dream was reality, but reality had never felt this good before. I had never spent an entire day barefoot… and warm, in winter. I danced around in a T-shirt. I ate frozen yogurt and drank iced tea. My house was so hot, I even left my front door ajar. I had heat to spare.
“At about seven o’clock that night I grabbed my coat and gloves and headed for the front door. Even though I had my own fire now, I was still drawn to Mr. Wellington’s… maybe even more so because I had my own fire. It’s hard to explain” (p. 27).
God On-Line. What a crazy, all-over-the-place online chat conversation about God (with God) is like… and how God responds!
The Painting. A scene depicting the cost of restoration and the mocking that occurs before by the crowd and the hushed silence when witnessing wholeness and reconciliation.
The Fire Factory. A story of the INCARNATION through an order for a fire that cannot be quenched by a relentlessly extinguishing human race. What would it take to contain, create, and sustain such a fire? Well, nothing less than the author of fire himself.
“The task was begun. Ignition experts laid the plans for an irrepressible fusion of infinitely combustible fibers. Molecular engineers went to work on the atomic acceleration module to be housed in a pure, microscopic environment. Biologists began calculating DNA, and microbiologists began incubating cells that could contain both living matter and atomic potential. All departments were challenged with the precarious melding of the infinite with the finite–encasing immortality within a fragile, paper-thin shell of mortality” (p. 51).
The Tomorrow Tower. A parable about striving for a goal in life (or all of life for that matter) hitting the wall and realizing that you are not enough. And yet something unexpected is enough if you trust it and yield to it… it will show you the way where you can’t see the way.
Red Kite, Blue Kite. A parable about two kites flying like they were designed for flight by a KiteMaster. One kite loves flying with the Master while the other kite forgets his purpose and connection with the KiteMaster and wants to fly on his own. It seems important to trust the KiteMaster and spend time swapping stories with fellow kites. What does it take to stay connected to God, the KiteMaster?
“Every kite, more than anything else, desires to fly. Even before they understand the concept of flight, they yearn for it. It’s the unknown entity they subconsciously crave, the missing puzzle piece that, when experienced, is the natural fulfillment of their existence” (p. 67).
“As time went on, the red kite realized that the real thrill was not found in the flight, but in being flown by the KiteMaster” (p. 70).
True North. A story about the pull to vapid offering of the world as opposed to the deep satisfying offerings of God’s kingdom. Story is told as a choice between the neon city with flashing lights and a quaint, beautiful town called True North (a town that points folks to and offers abundant life). The kingdom of God vs. the kingdom of earth.