Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Hero in Our Stories

[This week, Andrew sent a very thoughtful (and deep!) blog entry.  Admittedly, I had to read and re-read this a few times -- especially the first paragraph.  But each time I did, I gained more insight and understanding.  I don't know everything that he is experiencing in Peru, but I can tell those experiences are making an impact.]

If we speak in terms of stories, reality holds an interesting place. Unbound by tethers of entertainment and popularity, God can direct our lives in the most necessary course rather than what we would find to be the most compelling narrative. As a cohesive story--one with obvious causes and effects--fades as far as our mortal minds can see, some lose faith. Debilitating and harmful experiences that have no immediate explanation go so contrary to a loving and almighty God that belief seems illogical. In a culture of stories filled with modern sarcasm, anti-heroes, and moral debates, simplicity becomes weak. How can a humble teacher who taught about kindness and love be our Savior? How can a perfect person (modernly portrayed as some comic holiness) know anything about the world? What's real perfection, anyway, when Utopian literature always points to something sinister, and flaws seem so philosophically important to ground a society?

We worry too much. God is our loving Heavenly Father. He sent us here to gain experience and grow. Weakness and sin will oppose us, but as we struggle, we gain spiritual strength. Faults are not eternal, nor is pain. They are part of a very brief experience. We overcome such obstacles through Christ, who was strong enough to overcome not only his temptations but all of ours. Though He suffered all, He ultimately conquered and rose again, taking up immortality and promising His real and complete joy to all who accept it. Yet it requires all our attention, and all our acceptance. He will not force salvation on us.

But if we choose the Gospel, He'll heal the young man panicked at the responsibility of the two-year-old "mistake" he loves more than anything. He'll heal the man consumed by the weight of his calling in life. He'll heal the drunk cripple, and the overwhelmed mother who's running away from her past. He'll heal them who plead for forgiveness and those who need to grant it. I've seen each one of these characters either accept it or run away after they've experienced a moment's repose.

In the end, we just need to recognize we're not the hero in our own story. In the name of the Hero, Jesus Christ, amen.