Hero Me Not – 365 to Thank You

Where I learn that I am thankful for the reminder that I am only human.

The world has really started to run on hyper speed lately! This is truly amazing when you think that we were supposed to all be huddled in our carb-filled toilet paper nests binge watching Tiger-something on the only streaming service that cares enough to ask if you are still watching or if you have passed out yet again on the couch. I was under the impression that this was pretty close to the standard this year was to have reached until “this all blows over”. Can you hear the eye rolls? No, I’m not getting political or scientific. I have taken all of the precautions that a thinking person should, and I have thought a whole lot. I’m just mentioning all of this because it seems like everything really has sped up and stood still all at the same time. Some of you will say “It’s the Rona” or “Election year”, but I really believe that this is just human nature. We run from thing to thing in the wind of the latest absolute need.

But this isn’t God’s nature. He is still God. No pandemic or election will change that. He is not huddled in our nests or raging on our streets. He is walking with us, waiting patiently for us to listen and do His will. He has already finished all of this. You may have heard the saying “don’t re-invent the wheel”, well, don’t struggle in fear of what your God has said is Finished.

With that in mind, I have been limiting my news feed sessions (some days more effectively than others) to about two per day and I have found one thing pulsing in my spirit while I allow the stories from our world to sink in: I am so glad that no one has ever made a statue of me.

I don’t want to get into the argument of should we or shouldn’t we, I just want to examine the why we already have.

Statues and Memorials are put up to remind us of something or someone from our past, something important to remember. God ordered His people to put up memorials to help them remember all that He had done for them. It isn’t a new practice and we are not facing a novel problem. If you happen to have had a statue of yourself erected in a city center or somewhere equally auspicious, someone thought that something you did in your life was worth it. But, here we are again on human nature, this also means that someone somewhere down the road may think that you do not deserve it because of some other thing you did. We are nowhere near perfect, no matter how heroic we may seem. And humans change with the current and we judge each other harshly. It seems that when we erect a statue, we forget that the person we are creating an image of is, indeed, a person and not a cartoon super hero.

I have a suggestion: let your heros sit on chairs, not thrones or pedestals. My husband has said that Abraham Lincoln is his most and least favorite President. I understand this thinking. You can admire a man for something he did that is good and worthy of praise, and you don’t have to forget all the things that they did that were not good and not worthy of praise.

No, I don’t want a statue made in my image. I know too much about me.

But God knows more. God knows the things that my mind hides from me in an effort to find myself likable on a daily basis. God knows all of my thoughts….ALL of my thoughts. And He loved me enough to save me from my sin. He loved me enough to show me the perfect path that was His plan from the beginning and to discipline me to stay close to Him.

No, I don’t want a statue, or the approval of this world. That is superfluous to what I have already been given.

Seek first His Kingdom! Seek first His Glory!

Everything else is cake; cake that will be eaten, perhaps enjoyed and then thrown into the trash by hands who do not know what it took to make it.

Everything else is statues; venerated one day, forgotten, then remembered again, if only in a faint light of their original intent, and then fallen.

Everything else is a streaming video service; they give you what you thought you wanted until hours later when you have wasted your time and have to yet again answer “yes, I’m still watching” to an uncaring robot who really only asked because it was programmed to (and can sometimes seem a little judgy).

Sort of kidding on that last one, but you see what I’m getting at. What seems desperate and important for us to grasp at here on this Earth is meaningless when we compare it to the freely given Great Gift of our Loving God.

I could go on for another 800 or so words, but God has already told this story over and over so, here you go:

In this portion of 2 Chronicles chapter 7, Solomon has just finished and dedicated the Temple. This was a huge feet passed on to him by his father. It had to be a really high time in his life, a time when he felt there should be statues of him (as wise as he was he was still a man). But God took him by the hand and reminded him of his humanity and the humanity of all of the people. God quietly let him know that there would be mistakes, but that if he/we would listen to God we would be fine. Here it is in the Message translation (I’ve read several and I like what all of them have to say, so please read this section in your favorite translation.):

2 Chronicles 7:12-18

“God appeared to Solomon that very night and said, “I accept your prayer; yes, I have chosen this place as a temple for sacrifice, a house of worship. If I ever shut off the supply of rain from the skies or order the locusts to eat the crops or send a plague on my people, and my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health. From now on I’m alert day and night to the prayers offered at this place. Believe me, I’ve chosen and sanctified this Temple that you have built: My Name is stamped on it forever; my eyes are on it and my heart in it always. As for you, if you live in my presence as your father David lived, pure in heart and action, living the life I’ve set out for you, attentively obedient to my guidance and judgements, then I’ll back your kingly rule over Isreal – make it a sure thing on a sure foundation. The same covenant guarantee I gave to David your father I’m giving to you, namely, ‘You can count on always having a descendant on Israel’s throne.’”

The next few verses are what happens if the God-defined people don’t stay close to God. It is instructive to read and I advise it; in fact, I advise reading as much of the Bible as you can whenever you can.

What I really want to get out of all of this and what I would pray that you get, is this:

Don’t put the approval of man or the good in this life over the Salvation and life with God offered through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Have a good week,

Ronda

Be the Hero Protagonist Lead Character Narrator of your own story?

Hi friends,
This post has taken a while.

It’s been kicking around in my head for a couple of days and I’m still not sure that I have the right direction to begin it, but there is nothing but to begin.

Let’s start with a pretty popular statement. I have often heard, and my children have often been told to “Be the Hero of your own story” and to “Follow your Bliss”.

Some parts of this empowering set of statements sound just great to my human ears. But there are a few questions I’d like to ask before taking these statements in as my personal principle: What do they say about truth? What about everyone else? And what about God?

The man who originally made these statements famous, Joseph Campbell, spent a great majority of his time examining religion. I studied many of his theories and those of the men who influenced him (Jung, Nietzsche, Joyce, Mann) in school. Sometimes what they said sounded very logical. It made sense, until they began to discuss truth. It became quickly apparent that this group of thinkers considered man before God and thought of religion as a crutch. They were sure that “truth”, as a concept, could be found only in weighing the “good” it was doing you, or how “good” it made you feel.

I’m sorry, but if you live in a world where there is no truth but how you feel, you are going to live in a very mixed up world. Your “truth”, your “bliss”, will change daily because we as humans change daily. There is no solid ground. No wonder there are record numbers of people describing feelings of insecurity and depression.

Let’s think about it this way: If every morning you woke up to find that the ground around you had changed from solid rock to liquid to magma and back again based solely on how you were feeling that morning, or even worse, how some other human was feeling, would you have any security upon waking?

So, I have not found “truth” in the philosophy of “Being my own hero” and “Finding my Bliss”.

Then there is the question of other people.

I know that the character I know the most about in my story is me. Obviously, I know my inner thoughts when no one else really does. I’ve been there to see everything I’ve done and not done. (So has God, but let us wait to address that[Psalm 139].) But does that make me the hero in this story? What about my husband, my parents, my children, my brothers and their families, the women in my Bible study, the people reading this long blog post now? Can I treat them as ancillary fleeting characters? Would I want them to treat me that way?

The interplay of “others” in our own story is way too complicated to treat lightly. Life is not like fiction or even non-fiction if you really think about it. Treating others as characters in service to the hero, you, makes you, well, let’s just put it bluntly, a jerk.

Other people have deep thought lives you know nothing about. They have pasts and futures you may or may not be a part of. They are beings with worth, not just characters put in place to further a plot or help you “find your bliss”.

And now I see I’m not even the main focus of my story sometimes. There is too much complication in real life to treat it so simply.

Finally, and most importantly, if I’m playing the big hero in my life, what about God?

I can, as many have, treat Him as some huge being in the sky who has no real bearing or interest in my life or how I live it, but that’s not my experience with God.

I can, as many have, treat Him as a punisher, watching every move I make and waiting to throw down some proverbial lightening when I do wrong, but that’s not my experience with God.

I can, as many have, treat Him as a candy machine, waiting for me to put in the proper payment for the gifts I want, but that’s not my experience with God.

None of these is the God I know. None of these is the God I have found in scripture. None of these is GOD.

God is the hero.

If you spend time in His Word you will find that God is a loving, patient, strong, just, merciful, graceful, beautiful, wise, caring, gentle God. He is all of these things, and only He can be all of these things all at once.

Read the story of Cain and Able again (Genesis 4:1-16). We got a chance to do just that in our Bible study last week.

Read it slowly. Do you see God in the story? Did you notice that God is the main character in this story, not Cain? Did you notice that God is patient with Cain (Genesis 4:6-7)? Did you notice that God tried to help Cain avoid the pain He must have seen coming? Yet Cain responded as all of us so often do: with selfishness and anger over the hurt he had received (Genesis 4:5, Genesis 4:8, Genesis 4:9, Genesis 4:13-14).

We could do that with any story of any of the characters of the Bible that we may have heard of in pop culture. I think most of the world would be surprised to learn that God is the hero, the main character of the Bible and of our lives.

So, what do we do with our story if we are not here to save ourselves and somehow be an ultra-mega-special person?

We are here to tell our story. We are the narrators.

Tell your story. Those who hear it will hear God in it, even the messy embarrassing or shameful parts.

Tell THE story. Because this story, though mine may seem in my mind to be the most crucial part, is one huge story made of many little parts all equally important and unimportant.

My story, THE story is always pointing toward the truth of a God who knows me, knows you, inside and out, good and bad.

I hope this long winded post says what has been clanging around in my heart and head lately because I think it is what God wants you and me to hear. I hope I am being a faithful narrator here.

Welcome to THE story.

Ronda