I am going to try to not spoil anything here…
Last week I was in Michigan on a family trip. It was a great time. My kids got time with their grandpa who was kind and affectionate and generous, they got time in the cool Michigan air, the cold lake water, the warm sand. But you know that feeling of “being on vacation” and then “needing a vacation from your vacation”? I have some of that. And I think it is because I spent much of my vacation making sure my kids didn’t fall down the stairs (which they did) or falling into the lake (which they did) or accidentally going into a bedroom that wasn’t theirs (which they did). I was WORKING at life. Parenthood is work, don’t get me wrong. There is that feeling of constantly working to protect, lead, guide, correct. And Michigan was a new place with new hazards and new environments, so new that it sent me into work-mode.
Our flight was delayed by about 10 hours coming home, so we tried to make a day out of it, walking on all the moving sidewalks in the airport, touring all of the shops. By the time we finally got on our last leg home, our kids had fallen asleep and we were there on the flight, watching the new Avengers Movie.
I’m not a big fan of superhero movies, mostly because, as my wife would put it: they all follow the same pattern… talk for a while, then fight each other, then talk some more, fight, talk, then a big fight.
But my son was asleep in my arms on a stuffy flight; we were both sweating and uncomfortable. But the Avengers movie was playing so I decided to listen to it and watch.
Here’s my summary: lots of superheroes fighting for stones because they are important for the universe. I struggled to follow who was good, who had which stone, and who I was rooting for. Is the green guy bad? Red guy? Wasn’t there a blue guy in the last one? Girl with bow and arrow? No, wait, that’s Hunger Games…
Anyway, all of these superheroes have to manipulate time, go get some magical stones, and save the universe. So. Much. Work.
And then I looked down at my sweaty, sleepy son, and remembered that we worked hard to get to this point in our trip. So. Much. Work.
And here is my main point: following Jesus isn’t that hard. But I am a proud person, and I have been trying to work hard to be and stay well, to manage a schedule and a budget and good rhythms for my marriage and family. But the reality about living life is that God has done so. much. work. for us already. We don’t have to worry about how The Avengers will end (the flight was ending at about the 20-minutes-from-the-end mark of the movie, so we never saw the ending anyway…). We don’t have to worry about whether our kids are rested enough to go to school. We don’t have to worry whether our medication is working, whether therapy is worth it, whether our faith is strong enough to be called a “true believer” (if there’s even such thing).
Life can be so much work if we make it so much work. So what does it take to give it up? Part of me wanted to enter the Avengers universe and be like, “OK, everybody, I know these stones are like super important to you and all. But why do you think that fate is up to you? How can you lay down your superpowers at the foot of the cross and give it to Jesus?” And I realize that I pride myself on my intellect, my training, my life experiences. But these are false superpowers.
I am pursuing the real superpower, which is submission and humility. And part of that is admitting my own brokenness and need. I am broken and needy. I need your help. I need your time. I need your curiosity. I need your prayers.
This weekend I sat in the healing chair and had some guys pray for me. And then after I had 4 people schedule time with me throughout the week. None of them said, “Let’s work together to get you well.” Instead, they said, “Can we walk with you as we walk with Jesus?”
And that is a true act of heroism. To walk along side someone who is struggling, and to trust that Jesus will do the work.
Jesus, may the work you have already done for us sink down deep into our bones. May we feel your love so richly that we don’t feel the need to do our own work of healing.