I remember the very first time I saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; not the Johnny Depp and Tim Burton joint, but the Gene Wilder Willy Wonka. It's one of the few memories I have of my paternal grandparent's house as a kid. They lived in town and had cable, we lived in the county and didn't. I remember being over there one Sunday night, Willy Wonka came on, and I was introduced to a brand new world.
There were five golden tickets that would get five kids into Willy Wonka's factory, and would also get them a lifetime supply of chocolate. Each time one of them found a ticket, we get a glimpse of this strange little man whispering something in their ears. I remember that part. I remember the Oompa Loompas, the chocolate river, the bratty little kids (that even then I didn't have much patience for), the terrifying boat ride, and how Charlie was taking in every second of their tour through the factory.
Each of the kids on the tour winds up getting removed from the factory because of some character flaw they possess. Augustus Gloop was the first to go. His gluttony caused him to fall into the chocolate river and wind up in the fudge room via a chocolate extraction tube. Violet Beauregarde was next to go. She turned into a huge blueberry because the gum she just had to have had not been perfected yet and she was rolled out. Then Veruca Salt got hers. I just didn't like that kid...spoiled, loud, selfish, she was just a bad egg. I was glad to see her go. Mike TV was next; transported through space by Wonkavision. Then there was one. Only Charlie and Granpa Joe were left.
You think Charlie has this one in the bag. All of the other kids are gone. But then Wonka steps into his office and very abruptly ends the tour, bidding them both good day. You actually hate it for the little guy. Charlie had absolutely nothing, and here was one chance for him to find a bright spot in an otherwise dreary existence. When asked if Charlie would be getting the chocolate, Wonka very curtly says "It's all there, black and white! You stole fizzy lifting drinks! You bumped into the ceiling which now has to be cleaned and sterilized, so you get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!" Kind of harsh I think.
That was the image that came to mind when I read Joshua 7 this morning, only it wasn't Gene Wilder yelling at Charlie and Grandpa Joe, it was God yelling at Joshua. Here's what God says, "Stand up! What are you doing on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction."
It was just a little thing; a robe, a few pieces of silver and gold, a sip of Fizzy Lifting Drink. Nothing major, and they didn't even think that they were doing anything wrong. Funny how that works, huh? It's not just Augustus, Violet, Mike, or Veruca; and it's not even just Achan and the Babylonian robe, it's all of us. Or, at least, the majority of us. Charlie had a redeeming quality though. He was honest to the core. Willy Wonka didn't know there was an Everlasting Gobstopper in Charlie's pocket, or that Slugworth was going to pay him handsomely for it (Well, ok, he did know that part. Slugworth worked for him) But Charlie couldn't do it. The moment he laid the Everlasting Gobstopper on Wonka's desk was the moment Charlie was redeemed.
What things are we holding on to, that once laid on God's desk would lead to the beginning of our redemption? Just something to think about. Oh, and I'm a huge Johnny Depp fan, but Gene Wilder was a much better Willy Wonka.
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