When I was a pre-teen, they were just re-releasing the original Star Wars movies (Episodes IV, V, and VI) in preparation for the pre-quel trilogy (Episodes I, II, and III). It was a magical time. Here these legendary films that I had just become attached to were being re-released, on the big screen, and there was nothing that made me more excited other than the possibility, of when I was six, marrying The Rocketeer. (Eat your heart out, Captain America.) My mom would literally pick me up from junior high with my lightsaber in the car so I could have lightsaber battles with my one friend in the parking lot. I read the books; I knew the background of these characters; I knew how many engines were on each of the space planes; and, of course, at twelve, I was even then unwittingly exercising my journalism chops and had even tracked down the local number of the studios in California that were, at the time, owned by series creator George Lucas so I could pitch my book idea. (Just for size comparison’s sake, it should be noted that they are now owned by Disney. Apparently, I was not easily intimidated.) Although at twelve, my writing skills could best be only described with a line from the Star Wars movies…”I was not a Jedi yet.” I have no memory of who I spoke to, but I can guarantee you some intern somewhere probably still tells the story around his or her dinner table.
But what could have been a crushing defeat at twelve in the eyes of a budding author, I used as incentive to better my work. I started reading more, teaching my friends how to craft a story, and didn’t realize that I had soon started to read during classroom lectures in the sixth grade. Star Wars is a phenomenon now, so perhaps today’s youth may not understand this, but back then, I wasn’t very popular. But I did have a reading level – in sixth grade – of a sophomore in high school because of all the Star Wars books I read. With Amazon slowly taking over the world, today’s youth may also not understand the thrill of visiting an FAO Schwartz toy store in New York City with their older brother just to pick out an action figure or deck of metallic collector’s cards from the section of the store dedicated to Star Wars. Decorated with what seemed like life-size replica statues of creatures, characters, and technology from the movies, the now two-decades old impression is still fresh in my memory. I can still remember the thrill of walking into that corner of the giant toy store for the first time. Honestly, I may have even cried. My world was in that universe. And nothing, no one, was going to convince me that I was getting the short end of the stick by being a fan. In short, I “knew the voice” of my comfort zone, and I’d come running every time I heard its voice.
If any of the above paragraph resonated with you, then you might surprise yourself by realizing you know exactly what to listen for when you listen for the Lord’s still, small quiet nudging…that warm hug of amazing circumstances within the context of your life that let you know He is near. As Pastor Dave preached this last weekend, the Shepherd’s (Jehovah-Raah) voice is known by all of his sheep. I think the most interesting fact that Pastor Dave included was a little one that he might have thought was missed by everybody. But it was a brilliant metaphor. In Biblical times, sheep would co-mingle with other herds during the day, and merely by the sound of the Shepherd’s voice, they would know where home, shelter, and safety were and who to come home to at the end of the day. That’s power. That’s the power of fandom, and one way, how I think, the Lord still speaks to his flock today. It’s a little like realizing you’ve been looking for something bigger all along.
The question is: Are you ready to rest now that you’ve found a good Shepherd?
True, the Lord will always leave his flock of 99 to find the one who’s wandered and strayed. One hundred times out of one hundred, He will seek out the hurting and sick to bring them back under His guidance. However, not to knock my own species with a brutal metaphor, but sheep are dumb. Literally – the wool covered animals are not known for their intelligence. And, frankly, sometimes, I think we humans mimic this trait of our fellow mammals far too often. Don’t believe me? Just ask yourself: How many times have you known something is a bad idea and you’ve still done it anyway? How many times have you reached a point of defenselessness when following a “hireling” (substitute shepherd) versus the very, living God who knew you before you were born and created you by name? As Obi-Wan Kenobi would say in Star Wars: A New Hope, “Who’s more foolish…the fool or the fool who follows him?” There are so many avenues to which we attribute a sense of security that are not going to lead to any permanent sense of fulfillment. For example, maybe your identity is wrapped up in your career, maybe a hobby, or even a mentor. But the Lord always has outstretched arms waiting to welcome you back to his care. Sometimes, it takes a stressful event in life to wake-us humans up to realize the blessing we have in such a Shepherd. As Pastor Dave preached, “You can’t tell the difference between a good shepherd and a hireling until the wolf shows up.” But he also preached that there are six ways to recognize how the Lord is acting as “The Good Shepherd” in our lives:
1. The Lord as my Shepherd wants to gather me. (See: The Prodigal Son)
2. The Lord as my Shepherd provides for me. (Jehovah-Jireh)
3. The Lord as my Shepherd restores me. (Psalm 23:2)
4. The Lord as my Shepherd leads me. (Proverbs 14:12)
5. The Lord as my Shepherd protects me. (Remember that “valley of the shadow of death”?)
6. The Lord as my Shepherd blesses me. (Remember the “overflowing cup and head anointed with oil” passage?)
Pastor Dave’s parting prayer this week was, “Make yourself real to them (the congregation), Lord.” And I pray the exact same thing. He’s such a wonderful God to know and be familiar with. When’s the last time you wondered if there was more to that sense of “someone always having been there” than you originally thought?
Questions for Reflection:
1. What’s your favorite childhood memory growing up? Can you see how the Lord was a part of that sense of peace and security?
2. Have you ever done something you knew ahead of time was a bad idea? Can you laugh about it now or remember it with a sense of peace and acceptance?
3. When is the last time you had someone genuinely care about you? If you can remember, please take the time to acknowledge them now. If not, I encourage you to ask a pastor or staff member at Capital Christian Center how you can get to know a God who does care even when the world seemingly doesn’t.
4. Does the metaphor of God speaking to us through fandom make sense to you? If so, can you see how God might have been speaking to you long before you knew His name?
5. What is your favorite movie from childhood? Any particularly favorite lines? We would love to get to know our church family better and learn what is important to you, so please be encouraged to share.
House of Worship: Capital Christian Center – Lacey, WA