The Six Million Dollar Man.
Oh, how I ran home every day to watch this show at 3:30 p.m. on ABC. I was in 8th grade at Christian Prep School - Southern Baptist Educational Center - and it was the only thing that kept my soul alive.
The intro to this show STILL stands up as one of the best edited, most exciting openings for any TV show. You get the whole story in 60 seconds. You are pumping by the time it finishes. And remember, this has overlays and fades that were incredibly challenging to do back in the days of non-digital editing. In fact, the production quality of the opening is SO good, using great stock footage, you forgot how low-budget this show actually was.
Come back in time 30 years and be a kid again. Just watch this intro and see if you agree:
Oh - that was one PAINFUL crash wasn't it? But by the end we see Steve running like the wind.
I read the very adult book by Martin Caidin it was based upon - Cyborg. I had no idea it was rated R and I am certain I was not the only 13 year old who went "Whoooa! I hope mom doesn't catch me reading this!"
But it showed the pathos of what that crash did to Steve as a man, as a once-competent USAF pilot, only one arm from being "a basket case".
Dr. Rudy Wells is very patient, tries all he can to help Steve until one day he just snaps and says "God [blast it], Austin! I didn't shove you into that PLANE!"
And that puts an end to Steve's self-pity and moaning. He snaps back and becomes something new. A cyborg. A special agent for the U.S.
Funny how common that is in heroic literature. (I liked the concept so much I made my own superheroic version of Steve Austin - go see on the new V&V forums.)
But I digress. I want to deal with something you and I fight and how much we are like Steve Austin. How the utter destruction of our hopes and dreams MUST happen if we are to be heroes.
I know. That's a radical statement. But I cannot find the example of good person becomes hero without heartbreak. I wish I could. If you find one, let me know, O.K.?
Now I mean HERO, not "nice person" or "altruistic and kind person". I mean face down evil, battle evil, save victims, speaks truth when it hurts, never gives up, hero.
You see why they have to be crushed? They have to be more than 'normal'. They have to be made of sterner stuff. Pride cannot be part of the equation - it will turn them into a villain.
When we read the story of Joseph in the Bible, do you know what we see? A conscientious handsome young man with a bright future that gets smeared by 1) his brothers, 2) his employer's wife (Potiphar's wife), and 3) a fellow sufferer (Pharoah's cupbearer who was locked up with him but forgot him for two more years).
He had it all. Then he was so envied by his brothers they nearly killed him. Instead they dumped him off on a slave trader and told dear old dad he'd died. After years in an Egyptian prison for a crime he did NOT commit, he gets a chance to serve Pharoah and save the entire land of Egypt from death by starvation. He is well-liked and trusted, even in prison. Brother Yun mentions this in his latest book Living Water. He says Joseph must have learned forgiveness and trusting God early on, because scripture gives no evidence he was bitter; just the opposite: "And Joseph found favor in the eyes of the captain of the prison."
Yes, he teases his brothers and tests them later on, but if he had truly held on to his bitterness, they would have been killed outright. He had POWER second only to PHAROAH.
Joseph learned to serve. Joseph could be trusted with any task, small or great. But that can turn into a horrible "Go do better" form of ethical teaching if you are not careful. Too many pastors are too stupid to avoid that trap.
The key to forgiveness, to accepting circumstances and be glorious, to get better not bitter from it takes a great deal of faith that God is just. God is the final judge. God can use the evil of others to test and temper your soul. The final product speaks for itself. Do you become a hero or a horror? Do you meditate on God's sovereignty or on how badly you were treated?
Hear the words of Joseph - and if you hate "preaching" remember that Col. Steve Austin, our fictional cyborg was supposed to be some 50% machine but stayed humane, kind and compassionate. After all his loss, he faces the men who put him there, and they are terrified:
They were terrified of how Joseph would pay them back for screwing him over. But you know what? He had already caught on he HAD to forgive them.
When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?"
So they sent word to Joseph, saying, "Your father left these instructions before he died: 'This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.' Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father."
When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said. But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children."
And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
He was not God. Yeah - they meant to do it - no doubts! But Joseph saw how God used THEIR evil for a greater good. That kind of revelation doesn't happen if you stay bitter.
You can't be a hero if you can't take the process, folks. You've got to be hammered flat and folded over a few times. Then you can be a sword a samurai would be proud to use.
Otherwise you are just a gray lump being beaten again and again. A block of dull metal unfit for use.
Let God forge you. Forgive the tools He must use. They are so eager to be a part of the process, He must smile wryly when He unleashes them on you. "You have no idea who you are hitting. That's my son. I've already destined him for glory. You're just a tool."
Better than he was before. Better. Faster. Stronger.
That's the goal, dear reader. That's the art and craft of God.
From Isaiah 40:30-31:
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Wait on the Lord. Serve His people. You will be flying soon enough.