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The Needy Season

The Christmas season is upon us again, and for most people, including us, that means that life becomes a whirlwind of family, friends, and general merriment.  It means that we have been to parties and observed time-honored traditions that bring our family joy.  It also means that we have taken a couple of occasions to throw the door open wide and welcome all comers to celebrate with us:

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However, this year more than ever, I’ve noticed a funny thing in the midst of all this joy-making.  It seems like this time of year, when everyone is, at least in appearance, prioritizing family and community togetherness, we notice so much more the parts of family and community that we lack.  It’s as if the light of all the holiday cheer casts a glare on the holes in our support system.  I know people struggling with all sorts of forms of loneliness this time of year.  People who want spouses and have none; people who were betrayed by the spouses they have; people who are mourning the loss of loved ones that should still be here.  The list goes on.  I know for me, I’ve been haunted by so many memories of my dead brother this season that it’s as if his ghost has taken up residence in the house.  He is as much a part of my current environment as the presents under my tree, and his memories burst into my mind every day, begging to be spoken.  One of my secret joys is having a friend who shares his name so that several times a week, I can at least say it out loud.  I love the sound of it rolling off my tongue; it gives some little relief to the build-up of memories in my mind.

But it’s not just dead people who haunt us this time of year:  it’s any perceived lack in family and community.  All of our “holes” are magnified when seen in contrast to holiday cheer.  The type of friends we want but don’t have.  The family we wish for but don’t experience.  The life we pictured but haven’t seen in reality yet.  So many holes.

And I’ve decided that at least for me…maybe my holes are a hidden mercy.  Maybe, instead of being a failure in the Christmas system, they point me to the true meaning of Christmas.

I was reading an Advent devo by William Willemon this morning, and he pointed out that everyone, even the “nominally religious” loves Christmas because it gives us a chance to celebrate our own generosity, to celebrate what we have to offer to the world, instead of what was offered to us by God.  In one provocative passage, he argues:

We love Christmas because, as we say, Christmas brings out the best in us.  Everyone gives at Christmas, even the stingiest among us, even the Ebenezer Scrooges.  Charles Dickens’ story of Scrooge’s transformation has probably done more to form our notion of Christmas than St. Luke’s story of the manger.  Whereas Luke tells us of God’s gift to us, Dickens tells us how we can give to others.  A Christmas Carol is more congenial to our favorite images of ourselves.  Dickens suggests that deep down, even the worst of us can become generous, giving people.

Yet I suggest, we are better givers than getters, not because we are generous people, but because we are proud, arrogant people.  The Christmas story–the one according to Luke, not Dickens–is not about how blessed it is to be givers, but how essential it is to see ourselves as receivers.”

Now, listen:  I love A Christmas Carol as much as the next person, and I love giving gifts.  But I think Willemon might be onto something.  At least, I’m pretty sure that at its root, the Christmas season isn’t about family togetherness or gift giving.  At its root, the message of Christmas is that we were all poor, we were all in need, and we were all desperate for a Savior–a Savior that was given freely to us by a loving God.  And I don’t think you can feel the impact of that gift without understanding the holes in your life.  The lack.  The deep, yearning need.  The sense that all is not as it should be.

I have felt that lack this holiday season.  I have felt needy, and I hate feeling needy.  Not only have I felt the holes in my own soul, I have felt my lack of ability to patch the holes in others’ souls.  I see people suffering and understand intuitively that I cannot meet their deep needs, no matter how many Christmas parties I invite them to.  I can fill their stomachs with food, and their hands with treats, but their souls?  I’m sorry, but I don’t have that in me right now.

And I don’t think I ever did.

I think I needed to be reminded of that.  I needed to be reminded that I am not anyone’s Savior, I am not even my own Savior, but instead that I am desperately in need of a Savior.  When I think of that, I begin to see my “holes” as acts of grace from God.  Then, I begin to open my heart and let Him fill those holes.  And He does in beautiful ways–and funnily enough, He tends to use those who are historically considered to be “the least of these.”

For instance, yesterday, a small two-year-old girl who was visiting my house snuggled up to me out of nowhere and sang to me.  For no reason at all, she took the time to shine light into my soul yesterday.

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Then this morning, I was approached by an Iranian widow who attends my church, and she handed me a beautiful scarf that she had knit for me.  She has so little in her life.  She is all alone in a foreign environment; even the yarn she used to knit was a gift to her.  And she used that gift to pour blessing into my life.

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When I don’t see the holes in my soul, I am tempted to think that little toddlers and poor widows have nothing to offer me.  That instead, should be the one taking care of them.  I do try to take care of them, but my holes remind me that I am also needy.  That we all are.  And while we can minister to each other as best we can within our limited means, we ultimately are dependent on a Savior.  We can’t fill our own holes, and we can barely patch up the holes of others, but, through God’s love, we can find grace and peace in the Savior He sent for us all.

On my own, I am needy, so desperately needy.  But…unto me a child was born.  And that child was a gift that I could never earn through my own merit.  I understand that more at Christmastime, which is why I’m thankful for this needy season.

I Have EVERYTHING I NEED for Life

In our Wednesday night class last week, we women talked about all the ways we feel overwhelmed. We come from all walks of life, but a common thread of our answers was that, in some way or another, most of us were overwhelmed by the demands of work or family–or the demand of balancing work AND family. There was also a theme of feeling inadequate…like we were not “up” to our tasks, like we did not have “enough.” We didn’t have the talent…or maybe the money…or perhaps the organizational skills…or the patience…or the time…to do all the things we had to do.

In light of that discussion, we read a really crazy verse from the Bible:

“His divine power has given us EVERYTHING WE NEED FOR A GODLY LIFE through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3

A similarly unbelievable verse is found in 2 Corinthians 9:8…

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, HAVING ALL THAT YOU NEED, you will abound in every good work.”

I emphasize the “all that you need” part because both verses challenge our faith and our current experience of life. After we read them, we had to ask ourselves, “Do I really believe this?”

And even more importantly, “If I believe this is true, then why do I so often feel that I DON’T have everything I need?”

eynFor the next five weeks in class, we are going to explore that conflict. My dear friend, Courtney Steed, has written a Bible study called, “Everything You Need,” in which she uses Scripture and good ol’ fashioned logic to help Christian women grasp the wonderful idea that with Christ, we do have “everything we need.”

One thing I love about Courtney’s study is that is is SO practical.  It’s not simply, “Of course you have everything you need because you have God’s Spirit in you.”  That’s true, and it’s a big deal…but often our needs seem more tangible than that.  As Courtney says,

“So much of what I feel I need is not in a cloud above my head. What I need is not kindness, it’s a enough of money to pay the mortgage. It’s not just patience (though I need that tremendously), it’s time to go to the grocery store. Its not just gentleness, it’s time to myself. I need a nap, relief from my pain, for my relationships to be easier, my house to be clean and my kids to behave.”

Amen!

This study, then, is going to be very relevant and practical for our day to day lives.  Last week, the main thing we discussed to set the stage for this week was the idea of Supply and Demand.  All of us have “Demands” that need to be met…from the demand for sleep, the demands of a job, the demands of a mother, the demands of relationships, health demands, time demands…it goes on and on.  We are only able to meet those Demands with our Supply, our resources.  This week we are going to talk more in detail about our Supply, but the one point we made last week was that our Supply always comes from God.  It’s all from Him, and that idea that we have it naturally in us, that we just have to dig down deep or pull ourselves up by our bootstraps or whatever is more of an American idea than it is a Christian idea.  In fact, Jesus Himself tells us,

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

So that’s Truth #1 from our study so far:  Our Supply comes from God.

Truth #2 is this:  Our Demand is determined by God.

God doesn’t guarantee us that we have “everything we need” to do whatever it is we want to do.  We don’t have “everything we need” to meet our own goals, but to glorify Him.  To me, this is a freeing concept.  So much of my Demand is self-imposed.  It is a list that I give myself, out of feelings of guilt or obligation.  In the next five weeks, we are going to learn how to determine God’s Demand for us, as opposed to Society’s Demands, or Others’ Demands, or even Our Own Demands.  I can’t tell you how liberating this idea has been in my life.  Since I’ve embraced these ideas, I have had so much more peace and feelings of adequacy when it comes to my tasks.  I still have a ways to go, but my soul definitely rests easier now, and I have much less stress in my life.  That’s why I’m so excited to share this study with our women’s class!

I can’t wait to walk through the ideas in this study with the women at church.  This week, we are going to look at our Supply and what all it includes.  I think you will be surprised–you have more than you think!

Nothing Happened This Week

Here I am at the end of another week, and I almost didn’t blog.  I actually had the time to do so, and as a lifelong journaller, I enjoy the chance to process the past week, but it was just that, “Nothing happened.”

Thinking casually back over the week, I just couldn’t think of many clear memories.  I enjoyed sometime at the end of the week to relax and unwind, I remember that, but what happened before?

Then I looked at my pictures.  There weren’t a ton of them, but they reminded me that this past week where “nothing happened” was actually a week rich in friendships and family time and memories.

For instance, nothing happened this week except that when we got home from Murphy on Sunday, my mom had left a bunch of clothes for the kids on my kitchen table.  She had stopped by on her way home from Louisville.

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So nothing happened besides the fact that my mom showed yet again her amazing generosity and her love for all of us.

And nothing happened besides Greg getting to take his first day off in a long while on Monday.  Our family went up to Y.E.S. for lunch because one of our college friends, Shana, was providing it (but that’s “nothing,” right?  Everyone has amazing friends from college who help out in their ministries, right?)  We wanted to see her and to see the kids at Y.E.S.  Our kids ate lunch there, too, and enjoyed playing for awhile before we headed on to take a nature walk.

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It was “nothing.”  Just some rock-skipping lessons on the edge of a calm lake on a beautiful day.  Nothing to see here, folks.

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Nothing happened but a family walk and a chance to catch up with my husband.

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We haven’t seen a lot of him this summer; he’s been busy with camps and trips with the teens, pouring himself into ministry, and acing grad school.  I’m so proud of this man—and so is Anna, who gave him the flower that is behind his ear!

That evening, nothing happened, except that I made two dinners, one for my friend, Heidi, and one for us.  I ended up staying and talking to Heidi for longer than expected, so I told my family to just eat without me:).  But really, that’s nothing.  Getting to talk to a wonderful friend who has just moved back and feed a bottle to her beautiful baby…nothing special there! 

I got home in time to eat dinner and pop popcorn for our movie night:

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But it was nothing.  Just another movie night with the family that I love so much.

On Tuesday morning, nothing much happened besides a visit from our friends, the Steeds.  Afterward, they talked Luke into coming home and spending the night with them, but having good friends like that (and having a bff who knows everything about you) is “nothing.”  Not worth blogging about, certainly.

Once they left, Anna and I didn’t do anything besides go to a local park where she rode her scooter:

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Absolutely nothing happened there besides a beautiful evening with my daughter.

On Wednesday morning, there was nothing to do besides go roller skating with Anna.  After all, Luke and Greg do not like roller skating, so we needed to take advantage of the time when neither of them were there! 

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Nothing happened at the skating rink besides the fact that I got to watch my daughter’s amazing determination yet again.  I got to see her fall, then fall again, and again, and every time, bounce back up with a determined smile on her face.  She skated for miles that morning. 

We ended up sharing the rink with a YMCA camp group, which worked out because there were several games.  Anna’s favorite was limbo.

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She was one of the five people who never got out!  But that’s really “nothing,” right?

That evening, I gave my testimony at church.  It could only be about ten minutes long, so this was the condensed version, and I didn’t pass out or throw up, so I’m counting it as a win.  The most surprising part was when I was mobbed by little girls while I was talking!

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At the time, I was so confused by what made Anna come running to me, followed closely by her cohorts.  Afterward, Greg pointed out that I had been highlighting things that I still needed to work on as a Christian (selfishness, impatience, etc).  My point was not to put myself down, but to explain that as Christians, we can be honest about our flaws without letting them discourage us.  The whole point of my talk was how God gradually transforms us, so we know that, if we let Him, He is going to keep making us more and more like His Son.  Anna didn’t let me get that far, however, before she came running, out, apparently, to comfort me:).  Her friends were all giggly and happy, so even though it was a couple minutes before we restored order, at least it was a cute interruption!

After I finished, they all promptly piled on my lap. 

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I felt very loved.  I had been nervous about speaking in front of everybody, so I’ve gotta say, this wasn’t a bad way to be greeted after I finished!

So yeah…nothing happened on Wednesday night besides the fact that I talked in front of my church for the first time and then got love-mobbed by a ton of adorable little girls.  Happens all the time, right?

On Thursday morning, we had nothing to do besides meet some friends at the zoo:

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I didn’t get many pictures, and Anna and I couldn’t stay long, but we had a good time with the Burnells, the Wilsons, and my friend, Melissa.  It’s probably bad to say, but my favorite part of the zoo that day was seeing the kangaroos fight:

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I normally don’t enjoy watching animals fight, but kangaroos are just so comical!

But besides the awesome kangaroos and the time spent with a great group of friends, nothing really happened there, you know?

Luke had ended up spending two nights with the Steeds, so we went to pick him up after we left the zoo.  Then it was home for a relaxing afternoon.  Nothing really happened that night, just that my friend, Caroline, came over for dinner.  She and I had really needed to catch up, and we shared a deep chat, with both tears and laughter, for hours.  But that was it, nothing else…well, nothing besides the fact that we each got a text/call from a teen from church, Brenda, who wanted to come over.  At first, we were worried that something awful had happened…but no, she had just texted Greg in grad school, and he told her we were at the house.  Brenda was excited that she had gotten her driver’s license, so she and her brother, Fidel, stopped by. 

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Around 10:00, Greg got home from grad school, and the five of us sat and talked on the couch, and I think I laughed harder than I had all week.  Brenda is crazy!  It was 11:00 before everyone left and our kids were in bed. 

So really…”nothing happened” that night besides a deep conversation with an amazing friend, my husband’s completion of his summer grad school course, his giving of a GREAT presentation in class, and a happy group of friends in our living room, laughing until we cried.

Friday was a much-needed “home recovery” day.  I did nothing besides clean, organize, hang out with my kids, and then grill out with my family and have dinner together on the back porch.  “Nothing.”

And today, nothing happened besides having dinner with some great people:

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So that’s it.  As you can see, nothing really happened this week.  Nothing besides coming home to a surprise from my mom; getting some much-needed time with Greg; visiting with my best friend, Courtney; spending some quality time with Anna; feeling amazing love from the little girls at church; hanging out at the zoo with church friends; catching up with my friend, Caroline; celebrating with Brenda and Fidel; and eating dinner with our long-time friends, Heidi and Michael.

Honestly, when I first thought over this week, I thought of its stressors:  things that were really not worth blogging about, simply because they are unoriginal and there’s not much I can even do about them.  But looking at my pictures reminded me of all the blessings of the week, all the times where God’s love and faithfulness were showered on me through my physical family and my church family.  I really think that God purposely lavished me with love this week from His people, and that love filled me with joy and peace.  In the One Year Bible this week, I read Romans 8, which reminded me that nothing can separate me from that love.  Looking back at this week’s blessings, I see how true those verses are.

And that’s a lot of comfort from a week where, really, “nothing happened.”

The Lamest New Year

It’s no secret that I love the coming of the new year. A natural navel-gazer, I relish this time where the general population actually engages with me in self-reflection, evaluation, and the forming of resolutions. And even though January 1 is just one day like any other, I like the idea of starting the new year off right, by engaging in the practices and habits that I hope to continue throughout the year. For whatever reason, January 1 has become deeply symbolic to me.

That’s part of why I was so disappointed that my whole family was sick this year.

Our New Year’s Eve celebrations are usually fairly lame, but this year was especially so. Greg, though ailing, was at a party for the teens at church while the rest of us sickies ordered pizza, watched Netflix, and went to bed at 8:00. We were all snoring by 9:00. A few hours later I woke up with a fever and chills. It was 12:35.

Happy New Year.

This morning saw a continuation of the “yuck.” Anna seems relatively unscathed, but the rest of us are battling this viral ickiness. After breakfast (take-out from McDonald’s because that’s the precedent I want to set for this year…), I crawled back in bed and stared at the new prayer journal Greg had given me for Christmas. The one I had saved until January 1 to start using:

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Ugh. How do I “carpe” this day, I wondered. After all, Greg and I had already ruefully laughed at his comment that, “It looks like January 1 is going to be the first wasted day of 2014.” But I opened my prayer journal, thanked God for bringing us through to another year, and asked Him to show me what it meant to live fully even in the midst of sickness and less than ideal circumstances.

Throughout the rest of my day, I feel like I got my answer to that question. A few days ago, my mom and I were talking about how to figure out what God wants from us in this life. For me, I feel like the answer to that question comes from looking at the resources He’s given you. And today, my resources were different than normal. I didn’t have a healthy body to serve Him with–none of us did. And our bodies all needed rest. So rather than feel frustrated by this lamest of New Year’s Days, I decided to embrace reality. We all rested, and I did so not resentfully, but gratefully. I was grateful for the chance to rest, to nap, to have ample time to read the new history book Greg got me for Christmas. I was grateful for a husband, who, though sick himself, made heroic forays to the outside world to bring us sustenance and medicine. I was grateful for Netflix and Chromecast, for one child who is a great “sick kid,” and another who is excellent at entertaining herself while the rest of us are down for the count. Sickness aside, there was really so much for which to be grateful.

So really, it wasn’t that bad of a January 1, all things considered. After all, I want the first day to set the tone for the whole year, and today, I was reminded of the importance of rolling with the punches. I don’t want to spend 2014 fighting reality or getting upset when my plans don’t work out the way I want them to. I want to accept the life that God gives me, and to use all my available resources to live a life worthy of Him. And sometimes I just have to understand that my resources will be less than normal.

Hopefully, we will all feel better tomorrow. But even if we don’t, I hope that I can react to whatever life throws at me with grace and pluck and not fall apart when my well-laid plans dissolve.

I hope that for you, too.

Happy New Year.

Minds for the Kingdom

Two different things have recently made me very excited.

The first one was reading this book:

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I would highly recommend this book to anyone who works with kids in any way, be they a parent, an educator, or even a volunteer at an after-school program.  Basically, if you come in contact with kids and want to help them in some form, then this book is for you.

In a nutshell, the book lists seven essential qualities that all people need in order to succeed in this world.  Then, by gleaning from psychological studies, it gives practical suggestions for developing these qualities in children.

And in case I lost you at “psychological studies,” let me reassure you:  they are fascinating.  It is amazing to see how the mind grows and develops.  Let me give you a quick example that I shared at our opening women’s class:

Imagine taking a six-month-old baby and sitting her in front of a puppet show.  The puppet show is wordless and simple:  There is a hill.  A circle is trying to walk up the hill.  A triangle comes and tries to push the circle back down the hill.  A square then comes and helps the circle.  The end.

Next, the triangle and square are set in front of the six-month-old, enabling her to reach and grab one to play with.

Which one do you think she grabs??

You might think, “Hey, she’s a baby!  It doesn’t make a difference to her.  She will grab at random.”  But no.  Almost 100% of the time, the baby will grab the “helper” puppet to play with.  Sometimes in the test, the helper is the triangle; sometimes it is the square.  It doesn’t matter.  Even at that age, a baby can recognize a helper.

Babies know more than we think.  And it’s never too early to start equipping them for life.

Here’s the thing about the book, though.  These seven qualities?  They aren’t just for children.  Like I said earlier, these are qualities we all need in order to succeed in life.  And I’ll take it one step further:  These are qualities every Christian needs in order to be effective in God’s Kingdom.

That brings me to the second thing that has made me very excited lately.

This year, I’m teaching a women’s class on Wednesday nights at my church.  I’ve never really taught a women’s class before, nor have I really considered it “my thing,” but for some reason, I am just giddy at the idea of getting to meet weekly with the amazing women at my church and to discuss ways to live fruitful lives in God’s Kingdom.

For the next eight weeks, we will look at each of these qualities in class.  We will see what the Bible says about them, and we will talk about personal and practical ways to pursue these qualities in our lives.  My hope and prayer is that our time together will be equipping:  I pray that this class will give us each practical, scriptural tools that will help us as we try to serve God.  There will also be a very pragmatic component with tips on developing these qualities in our children.  However, even with this child-focused angle, my hope is that women without children will benefit from this class.

If you live in Nashville, we welcome you to come join us on Wednesday nights at Woodbine Family.  Dinner is served at 5:15, and we start class around 5:45.  If you don’t live in the area, but want to follow along, I invite you to join our Facebook group, Woodbine Family Women’s Class.  In it, I will post weekly links to recap posts like this one, our weekly Bible reading guide, and hopefully start some online discussion about our topics each week.

We would love to have you join us as we seek to develop minds for God’s Kingdom!

 

What Do Bella Swan, Harry Potter and Superman Have in Common?

I remember once trying to explain to my husband the appeal of Bella Swan, the heroine of the Twilight series.  He had watched the first movie (very much against his will) and came out quite unimpressed with ol’ Bella.  I, too, was (and am) somewhat mystified by her success as a relatable character, but there was one part of her personality that stood out to me.  In the book, I explained to Greg, the vampire hero, Edward, can read people’s minds…but he cannot read Bella’s.  That makes Bella very mysterious and attractive to him and hints that there is something special about her, even though Bella outwardly does not seem unique in any way.  My theory then was that the phenomenon of what I call “unmerited special-ness” really appeals to girls.  I think that we hope that there is something very special about us that one day, someone will be able to see…even when nothing outwardly shows that we are special.  Thus, Edward’s inexplicable fascination with Bella is deeply appealing to us.

Now that I’m reading Harry Potter for the first time (don’t judge me), I’m starting to think that this longing is not just limited to girls.  Indeed, one of the most striking aspects about the first Harry Potter book is that the reader gets to vicariously experience Harry’s unmerited special-ness.  See, Harry is famous–a legend, even!–for an event that he doesn’t even remember or understand.  Somehow, as a baby, he survived a deadly attack and seemed to simultaneously vanquish a powerfully evil man.  Because of that, Harry is famous and admired, and a heavy sense of destiny surrounds him.  Apart from that central event, however, Harry is just as normal as can be.  He displays all the emotions–the longings, the pettiness, the love and hatred–of an ordinary human being.  As book 1 continues, we see more explicitly that Harry’s power derives not from his own merit, but from the love of his mother.  In other words, his lineage is what makes him special, not his inherent goodness of character.

Thinking about Harry’s inherited power makes me think of Superman.  Even though I have never really followed the Superman character through comic books or movies, I know the rudiments of his story line (plus, the trailer for the upcoming movie was a good refresher).  As with Harry Potter, Superman’s power–his special-ness–does not come from some inner merit, but instead is in his bloodline.  Put simply, he is an alien of a superior race, and because of this physical heritage, he is powerful and special.

What’s interesting to me is how well that archetype of this special-by-birth hero plays in America.  I can see why it would resonate in Europe, for example, since their histories echo with concepts like inherited nobility and divine right of kings.  But America, with our pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, Protestant-work-ethic-inspired “American dream”?  You would think our superheroes would all look more like Batman, who changes the world through determination, rebellion, and full use of the earthly resources available to him. You would think that the image of an inherently special hero, blessed through no merit of his own, would not be so appealing.

And yet it is.  I wonder why that is so.

I have a theory.  My theory is, simply, that people want to think that they are special.  They want to think that they are destined for greatness somehow.  And yet, they also know themselves.  They know that they are, in general, ordinary people with the ordinary amount of strengths and weaknesses, and that, on the surface of it, there is not much about them that seems uniquely special or predestined.  And yet…they still hope.  We still hope.

What’s cool is that, as Christians, I think we have a story that speaks to that hope.  The story of the gospel is that we are that archetype of unmerited special-ness.  We were created as children of an all-powerful God, who has a destiny in mind for each of us.  And that destiny is nothing more or less than a chance to have a relationship with Him and partner with Him to further His Kingdom on this earth.  As Christians, we are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).  God’s workmanship?  Is that not unmerited special-ness?  Good works prepared in advance by God?  Is that not destiny?

So often, the people I talk to–even Christians–lack this incredible vision for themselves.  We love Harry Potter and Superman, not because we relate to them, but because we long for what they have.  Instead, I think we should read about Harry Potter and Superman and think, “Hey, that’s me, too!”  I think that having that vision is so important.  Without it, we become stagnant and hopeless.  My goal a witness for Christ is to share that vision with the people with whom I come into contact.  I find that people these days don’t simply want to “be saved.”  They don’t want to just stay in line and follow the rules.  They want a purpose, a reason to be here.  I believe wholeheartedly that the Bible supplies that purpose.  Our challenge is to communicate that purpose in a way that gives them hope and excites them.

Like the Harry Potter series and Superman comics, the Bible has  good story to tell.  Unlike those first two, though, the Bible’s story invites real participation.  I think that as a church, we need to give that vision to the world.

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