A New Hope
As my wife and I prepared for seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens last Friday (NO SPOILERS), we made the decision to watch each of the previous 6 films to give our minds the full context of what we were about to see. As a movie connoisseur, I reveled at the opportunity to gorge myself in George Lucas’ beloved (and partly reviled in the case of the prequels) fantasy opus. But something interesting happened that I was not prepared for.
As you may be aware based on my last post, God often speaks to me through story and film. It had never happened with Star Wars in the past, perhaps because I watched the OT as a child and related them to my childhood. But for some reason, this time a particular thought resonated with me: the only way to truly live out what you are destined to, you must be a humble student.
This theme makes total sense when you look at the previous 6 films as a whole. Anakin always saw that the Jedi and Obi-Wan in particular were trying to hold him back, to stifle his journey into Jedi master. As such, it seemed that he did not heed their teachings, warnings, and guidance. He only accepted enough from them to get him started on the path to “his power”. Then he became arrogant, cocky, and petulant. Even in the “romantic” scenes with Padme on Naboo, he talks like he knows how to fix the entire galaxy. The. Entire. Galaxy.
Conversely, if you look at Luke, he starts out like a typical teenager and rebels against his adoptive parents in Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, but when he recognizes just how much he has to learn from Obi-Wan, he slows down. He receives the father figure that this old mysterious Jedi has become to him. That is part of the reason the battle with Vader has so much gravitas. Luke is essentially losing a father (and ironically it is his biological father who kills him).
Luke even submits to the authority of a small green muppet in a muddy swamp. Thus his coming of age story from simply farm-boy into (perhaps, if the new trilogy allows) a Jedi who restores peace and balance to the universe. This kind of journey is most likely not one that any of us will follow, but it truly shows the importance of being willing to learn from those God chooses to bring into our paths, no matter what they look or sound like.
For me, I am really only a few weeks into my latest support raising journey and what God has most impressed upon me is how much I don’t know what I don’t know. Over the course of 2015, God has constantly and consistently reminded me that full time ministry is where I should be. He also not-so-gently nudged me into support raising to work for Front Range Christian Church through many of my spiritual authorities and mentors there.
At every opportunity for me to feel afraid or discouraged, He has provided the exact word, scripture, and friendly reminder that I am on the right path. Take last night for instance. I sent out some support letters last week and am expecting them to be received today. In the interim, I am a little nervous about the reception of those letters and yesterday I had a moment of doubt. It just so happens that my wife and I were casually invited to a concert with some friends last night. They casually invited another couple to join us. The husband of this third couple just so happens to be a professor of church leadership at a local seminary and former church planter.
He reminded me through that conversation of the importance of people willing to lead from the ground up in a church plant and how effective church plants are in reaching people with the gospel. But perhaps most importantly, he also reminded me that we are never called to know it all. Conversely, it is when we admit that we don’t know it all and need God and the Holy Spirit to fill in our gaps that often times the most powerful and transformitive experiences result. We don’t have to have every commentary and theological viewpoint on a scripture memorized. We simply must have a teachable spirit and humility. God works best with that combination.
It can be easy to think that we in ministry must have it all “figured out” before we can/should serve others. But it really only takes someone who, as the Bible says, is honest in their evaluation of themselves. Be willing to say, hey, I need to grow here. Don’t be afraid to share your struggles with others where it is safe and appropriate. This is how God has wired the church to function; real people being honest about where they are in relation to God. This is where a great deal of spiritual growth can occur. These are the moments where we can either choose the light or dark side. Do we separate ourselves from those around us like Anakin, selfishly seeking only our own desires or do we seek the wisdom and guidance of “a host of counselors”like Luke did?
For me in the past, I tried to take the tack that I knew exactly how to do this support raising thing and I “had this”. That attitude was frankly very arrogant and selfish. That kept me from learning how to best serve God by allowing others join in the story He was writing through me at Front Range. I was still serving Him and others, but not in the most effective way I could. Now, thankfully, I did not turn to “the dark side”. God gave me my chance to get that balance back.
The force that has awoken in me is the notion that I still have a lot to learn. In fact, I may just be a padawan for the rest of my life on the lookout for those older, wiser, and with more knowledge of “the force” that I can learn from. And as it turns out, I like it better this way.