During the past few years, as we entered the city of Phoenix on Interstate 10, I have been captivated by this building, and wondered about its history. It is of striking architecture, and it appears abandoned. Last Wednesday as we neared the city limits, I had my camera at the ready, Jerry pulled to the shoulder, and through my open window I clicked off a couple of shots. I’ve questioned my friends who live in the area, and have done additional research about this fascinating structure at exit 124 near the city limits of Phoenix. Embedded within the accounts of this beautiful edifice are indelible and practical lessons–both spiritual and economic.
“Phoenix Trotting Park was built in 1964 and opened in 1965. It was originally supposed to be built for $3 million, but after Italian architects and contractors were brought in it wound up closer to $10 million, essentially bankrupting its builder, James Dunnigan, who had operated Buffalo Raceway. It was built of reinforced concrete, and could have withstood a direct hit by a hydrogen bomb. Delvin Miller, harness racing’s Mr. Everything, implored Dunnigan to forego building a track, and instead workout a deal with Turf Paradise to install lights for a million or so and race harness nights at that thoroughbred track. That advice, feasible at the time, could have resulted in harness racing today in Phoenix. Instead, Phoenix Trotting Park went belly up and was bought by Sportservice, to make sure no reincarnation took place and its greyhound operation in Phoenix was protected. It is still standing, and some future travelers from space probably will regard it in the same way Stonehenge in Britain is regarded today……a monument built in the desert by sun worshipers. Sad story from start to finish.” -Stan Bergstein
In ancient days, Jesus spoke to the almost exact scenario in the 14th chapter of Luke. Verses 28-30 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.”
Although there are certainly economic lessons here, Jesus was actually teaching about the cost of discipleship, for He preceded the verses I listed with these: verses 25-27
” And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
Now I know that none of you who are reading here would be of those who fail to calculate the cost of serving Jesus. For we understand the greatest dichotomy of the universe is that although salvation is free, having been purchased by the shed blood of Jesus, those who are disciples of His must give all, must pay a great price to follow Him. But sadly, there are those, who without full consideration and understanding of God’s ways, decide to serve Him. Sure, I will accept Christ, cool, sounds promising, lots of benefits, politically correct, fun. But when pledges are called in, sacrifices are demanded, and discomfort nudges at the heel, such people hedge and back away. Oh, no, I can’t do that, I didn’t know I couldn’t continue in my previous ways, partake of my old sins. I can’t give up that, can’t be denied of this or that or of another. I have commitments, engagements, jobs to do.
But that one who has truly counted the costs sees the price as trivial and infinitesimal. For in exchange we walk side by side with our Master, He calls us Friend, and whispers direction into our ears. We have sat down, honestly considered the cost, and are fully willing and able to pay.
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