Friday, June 20, 2008

A Month of Supers

Hi. I'm back and unpacked from Metropolis. Why so long, you might ask?

'Cause I'm also back and unpacked from Springfield, home of Abraham Lincoln.

And I went to the comic shop yesterday and did something I haven't done in 15 years: I bought some comics. Not collected in a trade, but just singularly. I even put it on my credit card. Insane, huh? Taking a loan for comics?

I think I did it because I didn't want to lose the flavor of what I've been tasting - heroic lives with hard choices. (Have you ever eaten a ReesesTM peanut butter cup and then found yourself hungry for just plain peanut butter, because it tasted SOOOO good? It's a bit like that.)

I suspect God gives us a taste of something, and then we like the taste and chase down the thing itself. We wouldn't say this out loud - its far too subliminal for that, but I think I loved comics and that genre and did not realize it was an echo of the real thing, not the thing itself. (I have an on-line bud who loves comics & superheroic role-playing, but in real life, he's serving in Iraq and at home in the States he's a deputy for the sheriff's department. IMO, he's living out what he loved - protecting the innocent, fighting evil, helping the wounded, etc. Heroism.)

But let's table that for a moment. I called this blog "a Month of Supers" and here's why.

I think we all will need a lot of heroism soon, and God is giving us as many tales of heroism we can take. Iron Man, Batman (The Dark Knight), Hulk are all out this summer. Prince Caspian, Hancock, for other ends of the spectrum.

And its Superman's 70th anniversary.

It is also the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's famous "House Divided" speech - he gave it June 16th, 1858. There he frankly confronts what slavery MUST become in America: everywhere or nowhere. (Side note: I am in the grip of the Almighty. We had NO IDEA that was THIS week or on the very day we were to arrive in Springfield. I got to watch two re-enactors in the Old Capitol building on Monday. I even got my picture taken with "Lincoln".)

I cannot believe this influx of heroism in the mainstream media (and in my own life) is not there to enhance or to encourage our hearts for upcoming trials. Lincoln wrote this personal theology into the Second Inaugural Address about the cost of slavery for our nation and the goodness of God:

The Almighty has His own purposes.

"Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.

Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

Lincoln saw the God-ordained price for violating human rights: war and bloodshed. He also saw God was in charge of the affair. He also saw our duty to side with the Lord and not against Him.

It may be said a hero is not a man with a great desire to do great things, but rather a man who does what is right no matter the cost to himself.

So I start with Tony Stark in May and end with Abraham Lincoln in June. Funny, huh?

But its tough, kids. Standing firm when no one else is with you. Being responsible.

And not for fame or glory, but because God in His providence has set you up. I'll say that again:

God has set you up.

He put you where you are. He's given you what he wants you to do. Your assignment isn't to figure out how to escape His ordination. Your assignment is to do what is in front of you well, with justice and mercy and love.

Jesus knew this. Lincoln caught on to it. And every good hero accepts his destiny, his duty without fatalism.

I must really be getting off-track because it has taken me a month to see this; I am "just" a caregiver. Let me end with Oswald Chambers, a great saint who died in World War I while serving as a chaplain in Egypt:

My Utmost for His Highest, June 16th

Jesus does not ask me to die for Him, but to lay down my life for Him. Peter said - "I will lay down my life for Thy sake" and he meant it; his sense of the heroic was magnificent. It would be a bad thing to be incapable of making such a declaration as Peter made; the sense of our duty is only realized by our sense of the heroic.

Has the Lord ever asked you - "Wilt thou lay down thy life for My sake?" It is far easier to die than to lay down the life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling. We are not made for brilliant moments, but we have to walk in the light of them in ordinary ways. There was only one brilliant moment in the life of Jesus, and that was on the Mount of Transfiguration; then He emptied Himself the second time of His glory, and came down into the demon-possessed valley. For thirty-three years Jesus laid out His life to do the will of His Father, and, John says, "we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." It is contrary to human nature to do it.

May God call you to His service. May you hear His call this day.

And if you want to have power to go beyond your human nature, call on the Hero of Heroes.


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