The Gospel In Good Will Hunting

I like to watch movies, and find the Gospel in it.  In the movie Good Will Hunting, there is a scene, where Sean Maquire (Robin Williams) is going over Will’s file with him.  His past.  It leads into Sean telling Will, over and over, “It’s not your fault….”.  To which Will responds with:

“I know”

Then, sort of laughing uncomfortably, “I know”

Then, a bit more stern, but that awkward Matt Damon grin, “Yeah, I KNOW”

Then, “Don’t fuck with me….”  (Forgive me, I thought about putting stars in the place of letters.  But I did not, because this best reflects our heart in this moment of the Gospel narrative – Read Romans 5:8)

Then, sobbing, breaking down…

Imagine the role of Sean being Christ, and Will being you, or me.  And Jesus goes over our “file”, our past, with us.  He can even say, yes, he’s been through what we have. He was tempted in every way, though He did not sin.  He was scorned, mocked, beaten, hated, spit upon, killed.  In every way, He felt what we did, and I’d argue so much more.  Satan did to Him everything every single one of us has had done to us, or – done to another…

But instead of saying, “It’s not your fault”, He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”.

And we say, “I know”.

And He says, “No, you don’t understand.  I LOVE YOU.  I have ALWAYS LOVED YOU.  And my kindness is what is drawing you here, even though you want to run.”

And we say, “Yeah – I know”, with that same Matt Damon awkward grin.  We look around the room, because we don’t want to look Him in the eyes.  It’s weird, uncomfortable.  We can see all our sin, all our shame, all our failures, all our pain, as it flashes before us, so rapidly, yet seemingly in slow motion…

But we aren’t quite there yet, because we don’t want to look Him in the eyes.  We fear what we will see, but we cannot possibly yet understand that if we would only look Him in the eyes, we’d see HIS GLORY, and no longer see our junk – good OR bad.  “Yeah – I know, now leave it be, will you!”

“No – look at me, Ted.  I LOVE YOU.  I came for you.  I died for you.  I have loved you with an everlasting love…”

“Don’t fuck with me Jesus….”

And we begin to weep…  We can’t control it, though we want to “be strong”.  We don’t want to show Him any sense of feeling…
“I Love you…”

And we begin to crumble….

And we break down.  The weight has been so unbearable for so long.  Yet we’re told by the world, by religion, by self-help books, by media, we need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, clean up our act, or at least LOOK as if we have.  It’s on us, it always has been.  And we’ve done such a good job thus far in hiding all our crap, our fear, our pain, from the word.  “And now You, Jesus, want to expose that?  How DARE YOU!”

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with unfailing kindness…”

And it’s over.  We can’t take it anymore.  We give up.  And we finally look Jesus in His eyes.  We FINALLY see that He MEANS IT.  The God of the universe, truly loves – me?  How can it be?  Yet He does.  Now.  As I am…

This moment, is when we reflect Christ best. This moment, when we accept Him as Lord.  As Savior.  As lover of our soul.  This moment, when we finally believe that His redemptive plan for us was ALWAYS His plan.  This moment, when we don’t even remember our own junk – good OR bad.  When all we see is – Him…

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”

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Understand…

I tend to loathe scripted prayers.  Probably from my upbringing, where scripted prayers were all we did.  I feel impersonal, if ever reciting them.  Heck, even the Lord’s prayer, which is a wonderful model of how to pray – I get a crusty heart as I think back on the many times I recited it with no life.

But I will be the first to say, I’m wrong.  Not because I think we should only recite scripted prayers.  Because it’s STILL my heart, that looks upon someone else’s petitions with anything but their intent.  Worse – with a sense of “My dumb prayer is much better than their eloquent one”.  But that’s just me.  🙂

I’ve had the prayer we commonly call “the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi” on my heart lately.  God has pressed on me to seek this, in my life.  To be a light for others, I need to share with others – if even just my life, if even just being there with no words.  But to share with others, I must care.  I must have compassion for them.  More.  Much more than I do…

So – this prayer is on my heart.  To seek to understand others.  To seek to console others.  To seek to love others.  To seek others…  As You do, Lord…

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”

“The Race”…

File this under confused, saddened, ramblings…

I woke up early Thursday morning, as part of a group of men who were prepping to head to the Boundary Waters for the weekend (If you do not know what the BWCA is, you must look it up.  Amazing!  But that is for another post).

I checked my phone for what I though was one last time.  What I saw, kept me “connected” to the interwebs much longer than I anticipated, or wanted.  See, just days after Alton Sterling was killed by a police officer, Philando Castille, a fellow Minnesotan, was killed as I slept soundly.  Tragic.  Unnecessary.  And I’m left heartbroken and confused…

I know I’m not alone here.  Everyone is reeling, or raging, or taking sides, or – SOMETHING.  Because it’s happening so much!  Or – at least it’s being reported now (probably has been happening so much for so long, and I just did not know about it).

Now – I will confess – and I DO NOT SAY THIS TO TRY AND DEFEND OR INDICT ANYONE INVOLVED – I don’t know details.  I confess all I’ve seen are headlines really.  But even without details, nobody can argue that the killing of a man is OK.  EVEN IF it were necessary – and I don’t know that, even now – at the core, it’s unnecessary.  It’s tragic.  It’s ending one life, and impacting so many others.  It’s heartbreaking…  I did not watch the video of Philando Castille’s shooting, but I heard the officer was yelling expletives right after, in a panic voice?  If so, that makes me think he’s not OK with what he did,  whether he was right or wrong.  He killed someone.  How does one live with that?  Have we stopped to think about that?  About Philando’s girlfriend, who recorded this?  How is she doing?  About that little girl in the back seat?  HOW WILL SHE LIVE WITH THIS?  How has her life story been changed so drastically in one moment?  Or the rest of Philando’s family?  Or the community, who is still reeling from the shooting in New Orleans, and the one before that, and a lifetime of being treated as less than human in some way or another?  How are they affected?  It’s tragic, and unnecessary…

I’m a white man, grappling with what white privilege even means. “It’s not my fault”.   Or is it?  Has my apathy, my fear of offending with dumb questions, my laziness, in some way helped contribute to what is going on today in our world?  Am I racist?  Yeah, I think I am.  Blatant, in that I hate someone of another color or race?  No.  But low-level, in that I look at someone different, even if slightly?  Yeah, I do.  I need to acknowledge this, and be honest about it.  I need to repent of my apathy, my fear, my laziness, and reach out, however I can.  I need to be real.  Why?  Because YOU need to know Jesus, and if I show you apathy, fear, laziness, you don’t see Christ in me.  You see an ugly distortion of Him, the God who created you and loves you beyond all imagination.  And if I’m showing you a distortion of the lover of your soul, I’m doing you a disservice.  I’m so sorry…

So – I finally shut my phone off, as we neared the BWCA.  I was finally able to be in the moment with the men I went on this trip with (Including my amazing son).  I was able to shut out the ugliness of the world for four days, which I would suggest everyone do from time to time.  But four days came and went, and as I “tuned back in”, I read about protests, riots, cop killings in Dallas – WHAT IS GOING ON???  What are my kids, my grand kids going to face in this world?  Lord, have mercy…

I pray that my children, my grandchildren, will be bold and courageous.  Will show the love of Christ to a dark, fallen, broken world.  Will share the good news this world so desperately needs.  That they will be more bold, compassionate than I have been.  I pray for strength and grace to model that for them.

Why?  Because YOU need to know that God so loved YOU that He sent His Son to die for YOU.  So YOU can have eternal life.  So YOU can know that you were fearfully and wonderfully created by the God of the universe, and He knows you by name.  So YOU can know that you will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  This is not the end.  This is only temporary.  There is so much more to LIFE than this.  I don’t pretend to think that this life does not matter – it DOES.  But it’s just the beginning, dear one.  Time does not have to be wasted.  God is calling you by name.  Please, do not resist…

Philando Castille.  Alton Sterling.  Lorne Ahrens.  Michael Krol.   Michael J. Smith.  Brent Thompson.  Patrick Zamarripa.  Like so many before them, like so many every single day – their lives  were unnecessarily taken, and families are shattered in the wake of these tragedies.  I don’t post their names to take sides, I post them to show these were human beings, created in the image of our Lord and Savior.  Just like you and me.  Let’s not look at each other in any other way.  Let’s draw together, in Jesus name, to live in unity as we were designed and created to live.

Let’s…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Why I’m Not Voting Against Trump… Or Clinton…

File this not under “advice”, but “perspective”.

As with most every presidential election year, the argument that a vote outside of the two party system is “a vote for the other team”,or a “wasted vote”.  I always question that.  I just can’t get my head around that way of thinking.  I have never voted third party for a president, but I so often wonder, if you don’t like EITHER candidate, why vote for them?

I’ll get every argument for why the other is the lesser of two evils.  Hillary will bankrupt us.  Or maybe Donald will.  Donald is a thief.  Or maybe Hillary is.  Democrats want everything handed to them.  No wait – that was Republicans.  Yeah, they are greedy and selfish.  No wait – that was Democrats.  What???

So I’m not a political voice, no will I pretend to be, and I’m not writing with the desire to sway anyone’s vote. You wanna vote for Donald Trump?  Go for it!  You wanna vote For Hillary Clinton?  Be my guest!  Stay home altogether?  Enjoy your evening (or day)!  Vote third party – yep, you guessed it!  I’ll back ya 100%.  It’s YOUR VOTE.  Vote your conscience.

For many, that could very well be voting against someone or something.  I can’t stand so and so, and all they stand for.  Be that a person or  a party.  OK – again, it’s your vote.  Vote as you see fit.

For me, I struggle with the thought of voting AGAINST someone, at the cost of potentially voting FOR someone or something I’m – STILL not OK with.  It’s like making the saying, “Pick your poison”, actually true.

Do I think either Hilary or Donald will ruin this country?  Man, I don’t know…  Maybe.   But really, if either does, they are just the straw that broke the camel’s back.  I’ve never seen a straw break anyone or anything’s back – it’s the weight piled on before said straw, over time – the wear and tear, over time.  We’ve been ruining our country since the beginning.  We’ve been ruining our WORLD since the beginning.  Or better yet – since the fall…

So do I think a third party will be better?  I don’t know.  Maybe?  I think it is quite interesting, this year, having two candidates that are so blatantly – wrong.  Will that drive many to think of a third party as a viable option?  Or will they maybe renegotiate on their own morals, for sake of “not having the worst of the worst” in office?

I don’t want to waste a lot of time spelling out what I’m talking about, with regards to our two leading candidates – you have read the headlines, you have heard them speak, you have seen their track records.  You can figure that out for yourself. Ask yourself, as you do, are you justifying anything your candidate is doing, for sake of party/politics?  Going deeper – if the other candidate were the one doing that, would you attack them?  That’s for you to work out.  🙂

The point is this:  I believe that while our world is falling apart at the seams, God is in control.  He’s not surprised by any of this.  I don’t say this with my head in the sand.  I am not putting on rose colored glasses.  I mean, He’s turning us over to our sin, as a people.  And He’s doing so because HE LOVES US.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness (Romans 1:18)

By His wrath being revealed, we as a people will eventually return to Him.  Not because He is some wicked pagan god, who needs a sacrifice to be appeased (Like the Brady Bunch episode with the tiki doll).  Not because He needs us.  Because HE LOVES US.  And while we rejected Him, He draws us in through Jesus the Christ, which has been His redemptive plan since the very  beginning.  Yes – before the fall…

So – we’re a hot mess. Anyone who looks at what is going on in our country,in our world – no matter what your worldview is – if they are being honest, they will agree.  But think about that – God KNOWS this.  He’s not surprised by it.  It’s a direct result of our rejecting Him, suppressing the truth for a lie.  And He’s working that all for the good of those who love Him, and For His glory. Amen!

All wrongs will be made right.  They already have been, in Christ.  All sorrow will be turned in to joy.  It already has been, in Christ.  Every knee will bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD.

So – my vote.  It doesn’t change God’s trajectory.  However, it is a gift given by God.  So I will use that gift as I see fit.  I will vote my conscience.  And I will sleep well the evening of November 8.

So I’m not voting against anyone.  In fact, I don’t even want to make it my business of expressing what I’m AGAINST, unless I can express what I’m actually FOR. I’m for Christ Jesus.  I’m for life.  I’m for you, because Christ is for you.  And He’s come to set the captives free.  Even you…