An honorary red chair sits in my living room. Three of the four legs are still in good shape. But the fourth one seems irreparable. It is not safe to sit in, so it leans against the wall and holds a couple of blankets and a teddy bear.
It is not attractive. It is a product of a common furniture store from the 60's. An interior decorator would send it to the curb for the trash truck. I can't find words to describe the color of the red in the red chair. The best I can say is that it's a dirty red.
Though they've never said it, guests to our home might wonder, "What's up with the ugly chair?"
I wish they would ask. I love that chair. I'd like to tell them why. Got a minute? I'd like to tell you about the red chair.
Back in the day when it was safe for sitting, you could rock in that red chair. It has springs under it. The springs make a very distinct squeaking noise. That noise is filed in my brain under "Mom."
When I was a baby and had trouble sleeping at night, Mom would take me to the red chair. She would hum hymns with her beautiful voice and the squeaking red chair would sing back-up.
Mom is in heaven. I can't hear her hum any more. But the back-up music still exists in that chair. The chair stays.
My brother and sister and I fought over the red chair when we were kids. We were competitive over everything. If the phone rang, we raced to answer it. On road trips, we fought for a window seat. But the red chair was the biggest and most brutal of our battlefields.
When we would get home from school or church, we would rush to the red chair. It was our living room's version of "king of the hill." If I was sitting in the red chair and got up for a snack, Mark or Lynn would seize the opportunity and take over the red chair. Who knows how much I could have weighed as a child had I not been afraid to get up for a snack?
The red chair contest became so violent at one point that our parents made a new house rule. The Red Chair Rule. If you were occupying the red chair and wanted to get up for something, you had to say, "Red chair's my chair" before someone else got to the chair. It "froze" the red chair for no more than ten minutes. If you did not say, "Red chair's my chair" or if you were not back in ten minutes, anyone could take possession of it.
One Saturday afternoon I was watching cartoons (back when they had cartoons for kids). I was the official red chair holder. Mark was on the couch.
The phone rang. I sprang from the red chair and ran to the phone on the wall.* I had completely forgotten about the red chair. I forgot to say the red chair chant. (Even though the rest of the action occurred in milliseconds, I am switching to the slo-mo replay version for effect).
I reached for the telephone. The red chair, couch, and evil brother were behind me. The loud ringing of the puke green phone provided audio cover for Mark to get up stealthily from the couch and make his move on the red chair. My exceptional peripheral vision combined with my premature multi-tasking skills enabled me to see and respond to the red chair coup attempt.
But my wires got crossed.
I saw Mark in mid-air lunging toward the red chair. I pulled the telephone receiver to my ear and mouth and shouted into the phone (in "Saving Private Ryan" fashion), "REDDDDD CHAIR'SSSSS MYYYYYY CHAIRRRRRRR!"
(Slo-mo over...back to normal speed)
The poor fellow on the other end of the phone was a deacon. My dad was his pastor. I'm not sure, but I think the Bible verse that talks about a pastor "ruling his own house well" may have come up at the next deacon's meeting...again.
The red chair sits in my living room now. Of all the treasures of my parent's estate, the red chair sits as a priceless jewel in my memory bank.
My connection to the red chair goes deeper than a mother's embrace or a sibling rivalry. I can relate to the red chair. I'm a wobbly, squeaky, broken product of the 60's. I'm nothing special to history or humanity. But I am special to God.
After the cross was bloodied and the stone was rolled away from the tomb, Jesus went to the devil's cheap furniture store with a receipt that had "Paid in Full" written on it. He picked out a red chair named Perry and said, "I've got a place in my living room for him. I'll be back for him."
Every time the devil tries to repossess me, Jesus reminds him, "THAT red chair's MY chair."
I may squeak, but it's music to my Father's ears...
*For readers under the age of 30, it is important to note that all phones were stuck to the walls or sat on desks in those days. The words "cell" and "wireless" belonged exclusively to the jail house and the new fancy clothes dryers, respectively.