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FORREST GUMP: SOMETIMES THERE AREN'T ENOUGH ROCKS
In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest has a lifetime friendship with Jenny. In one scene, when both of them are grown and Jenny is just beginning to retreat from her lifestyle of sex and drugs, they are walking down a dirt road. Soon they come to the shack where Jenny lived as a little girl - the shack where she experienced abuse. As they come up to it her face contorts with hatred and anger. She reaches down, picks up a rock and flings it towards the shack. It chips off some of the already deteriorating paint. She picks up another rock and fires again, this time crashing through an already broken window. She picks up and hurls another, and another, and another - all with reckless abandon. Finally, she falls exhausted to the ground. Forrest gazes down at her and says, "I guess sometimes there just aren't enough rocks."
There was more to what Forrest said than what he probably knew. Surely she could have thrown stones all day and never destroyed the shack. That was obvious. But not so obvious was the deeper meaning of the scene - throwing stones all day would never abolish the abuse, or demolish the effects of it. Throwing stones would never bring her torment, her agony, her misery, her anguish to the ground.
And we’ve been there - we’ve thrown the stones - at situations, at people, at memories. And it’s never relieved the agony, destroyed the misery, or lessened our anguish. It has never eased our torment. So Jenny’s question is ours – When throwing stones won’t cut it, what do we do?
WHAT KIND OF HEART DO YOU HAVE?
I was reading this week an article by Bryan Doyle. It talks about hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds have race car hearts that eat oxygen at an eye-popping rate. Their hearts are built of thinner, leaner fibers than ours. Their arteries are stiffer and more taut. Their hearts are stripped to the skin for the war against gravity and inertia, the mad search for food, the insane idea of flight.
They are tiny little birds and their hearts beat 10 times a second. So even if you put your huge ear to its chest, it would be hard to discern the heartbeat.
The price of their ambition is a life closer to death; they suffer more heart attacks and aneurysms and ruptures than any other living creature. It’s expensive to fly. You burn out. You fry the machine. You melt the engine.
The biggest heart in the world is inside the blue whale. It weighs more than seven tons. It’s as big as a room. It is a room, with four chambers. A child could walk around it, head high, bending only to step through the valves. The valves are as big as the swinging doors in a saloon. This house of a heart drives a creature a hundred feet long.
Every creature on earth has approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime. You can spend them slowly, like a tortoise and live to be two hundred years old, or you can spend them fast, like a hummingbird, and live to be two years old.
What kind of heart do you have? Is it beating to the rhythm of songs of praise to God? for eternity? Or is your pulse set to the city, the job, the constant striving for possessions and property, the ways of the world, the pulse of hell?
MANY MEN OF SCIENCE, TOO FEW MEN OF GOD
In 1948, at an Armistice Celebration, (Armistice was the declaration of peace at the end of World War I) it was declared on November 11 at 11.00 am. So 11, 11 at 11. They did that symbolically because they felt that they were at the eleventh hour. They actually felt if the war continued, the whole world would be destroyed by it. Over 20 million people were killed in World War I. It was the bloodiest, most destructive war in history up until that time. So they declared an Armistice. Even till today some celebrate that.
Omar Bradley, one of the Generals in World War II went to World War I and he remembered it as a young man. He served in the army in the US, became a General. He actually led one of the largest armies in history during World War II. He spoke at an Armistice Day in Boston, Massachusetts in 1948. He said,
"With the monstrous weapons man already has, humanity is in danger of being trapped in this world by its moral adolescents. Our knowledge of science has clearly outstripped our capacity to control it. We have many men of science; too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. Man is stumbling blindly through a spiritual darkness while toying with the precarious secrets of life and death. The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.
This is our twentieth century's claim to distinction and to progress."
In the middle of 20th century, he makes this commentary and I think that history has borne his testimony to be true. After he made this speech, we had the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the whole group of other wars in the world. We do not know how to make peace.
If we are going to move into the twenty first century in confidence, if we want to give hope to our children and next generation, it must come through our commitment to our being in Christ and seeing character developed in ourselves, so that His light can shine in this very dark world.
A GLIMPSE OF ME—COMMUNION MEDITATION
In Mel Gibson’s Movie, “The Passion of Christ” there is an obscure detail in the crucifixion scene that probably goes unnoticed by most people, but it is a detail that says so much.
When Jesus is being placed on the cross, the camera comes close to watch as a large spike is positioned in the middle of Jesus’ hand. Then, a mallet comes into focus, and a rugged hand swings it to drive the spike. Those are all things you expect to see.
But there is something you don’t see. You never see the face of the one who drives that nail. You never get a glimpse into the eyes, or heart of the one who so assuredly pounds away until the spike has passed through Jesus’ flesh and comes to rest in the wood of the cross.
You might be interested to know that the person who plays that role in the movie is the director himself, Mel Gibson. But why does he never show the face of the one who put Jesus on the cross? Why does he not give us the identity of the one who had the gall to put the Son of God to death?
He didn’t show us that face because that face was his. It was ours. We are the ones who put Jesus to death. It wasn’t the Romans. It wasn’t the Jews. It was our sin that nailed Jesus to the cross.
Colossians 2:13-14 says: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all...
There’s another beautiful picture of baptism given here: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Did you catch it? Baptism clothes us with Christ. We’re wrapped up in Jesus and all of his goodness in baptism. We’re clothed with his work and his righteousness. Armani, Gucci, Abercrombie and Fitch – none of those designer labels can compare with the garments we have in Jesus’ name. God “clothes” us with forgiveness and salvation. In other words, he says that these things are ours. They’re real, just like a change of clothes. All who believe that these garments are theirs have what’s needed to be part of God’s family.
The Lord offers a wonderful wardrobe for his people. It’s his Son’s life, death, and resurrection. These are ours to “wear” spiritually. God does have a dress code for his family. This is what identifies the Christian as such. Let’s face it. People often wear the clothes they do because the want to be noticed. Quite often it’s the label or the name brand that supposedly makes a person a “somebody.” Well, you want to be labeled as a “somebody”, then be labeled as one who is wrapped up with Jesus. Be labeled with Christ. Be proud that you are a Christian. Don’t be ashamed of all the Christ has done for you! God has made you part of his family.
I was fortunate to grow up in a home where my father was both a loving and disciplining presence. I guess I would have to say that if there is anything I really remember about my dad is this, he possessed a presence unlike any other person in my life. To me he was always larger than life. He towered over me and just had a way of peering down at me that, depending upon the situation, could either rivet me to the spot in guilt or immediately cause me to reach out in search of his love. My dad had a smell about him that was uniquely him. There was always the faint odor of aftershave no matter what the time of day. This, mixed with the ever-present tinge of Chesterfield aroma, was always a sure sign that he had passed this way. Dad also had a unique way of clicking his teeth and clearing his throat. I knew that he was around and that my world was protected and safe when I heard those distinctively “dad” noises I had become so accustomed to. This was what made up the physical aura of my father.
There were other things about my dad that fleshed out his presence. The way he mixed his peas with his potatoes. The way he always used pepper on his food as well as the inevitable sneeze that followed. My dad wore argyle socks and very seldom wore shorts. He liked to walk barefoot in the grass while he sprinkled his precious lawn in the summer. Over the course of the years, image after image was plied upon his presence as I came to know the man in whose footsteps I knew I would some day walk. To some people his habits might have been annoying, even irritating. To me they were simply images of a man I was trying to know and conform to. Just like most boys, I wanted to be like my father when I grew up. I wanted to smell like him and sing like him. I wanted to drive a car like him and go to work like him. I swing a hammer a certain way today because that’s the way he swung it. I shave in the manner he shaved, first a swipe on the right, then the left, then under the chin and done. In this sense, dad over the course of sixteen or so years was shaping the purpose of a young man who had all of life in front of him.
As I grew older and more perceptive, I became more able in my study of the man. I began to observe his life as well as his presence. I saw his times of joy as well as his times of pain. When he lost his job I was only a little boy but I remember his deep sorrow followed by a stern commitment to make everything better. I saw his anger as well as his gentleness. The way he hugged my mom and kissed her even when we kids were around is an image I have carried with me to this day. When I left home at eighteen I was confident that I was on the way to becoming my “own man.” I didn’t find out until later that I was simply flexing my wings in pre-course to a flight that would bear a great similarity to the way my father had soared above me for years.
In the many years since I launched into my own flight as a man and a father, I can now reflect back and see the greatest lesson my dad taught me; that a man’s presence is a mixture of joy and pain. This is what makes him a man. This is what gives him purpose and value. Happiness is not all joy. Rather, it is having a purpose in life that is founded on the growth a man achieves when he builds on his misfortunes as well as his successes. The pain was as good as the joy. In fact, we can’t really know joy without the pain. To many Americans today even the suggestion that we conform to our suffering in order to know true happiness would be just plain foolishness. In a culture bent on a “no pain” attitude molded by the misguided belief that the end of all living is comfort and happiness, there is no room for such introspection. When we are confronted by trouble the first thought is to escape from it, not learn from it. Our purpose has become a purpose bent on escape from pain. The idea of embracing pain seems almost un-American. Nashville pastor Byron Yawn writes,
“Because of this distorted perception, we rarely stop to search for the ‘hand of God’ in the midst of our trouble. Seeking to understand God’s purposes in our pain is all but foreign. As a result, embracing pain’s role in our sanctification is usually the farthest thing from our minds.” (Preaching Now Vol. 1, No. 20. Tue 9/3/2002)
God has called each of us to conform to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Like our fathers, that is an image of joy mixed with pain. There is now escaping it; this was His life and it is ours as well. His purpose was to glorify the Father in His suffering. Our greatest purpose is no different. May each of us be “counted worthy of his calling.” Embrace the pain and learn from it. Make this the cornerstone of your purpose as a believe in Christ Jesus our Lord.
"The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable one. The trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite."
Persian Legend - Pour Water Into Basket
A certain king needed a faithful servant and had to choose between two candidates for the office. He took both at fixed wages and told them to fill a basket with water from a nearby well, saying that he would come in the evening to inspect their work.
After dumping one or two buckets of water into the basket, one of the men said, "What is the good of doing this useless work? As soon as we pour the water in, it runs out the sides."
The other answered, "But we have our wages, haven’t we? The use is the master’s business, not ours. He is a wise King, and must have his own purpose that we do not understand."
"I’m not going to do such fool’s work," replied the complainer. Throwing down his bucket, he went away.
The other man continued until he had drained the well. Looking down into it, he saw something shining at the bottom - it was a diamond ring....
Song writer and worship leader Graham Kendrick said, "Worship is first and foremost for His benefit, not ours, though it is marvelous to discover that in giving Him pleasure, we ourselves enter into what can become our richest and most wholesome experience in life" (Boschman, A Heart For Worship, 58).
BECAUSE THE PRINCE HAD COME
A man named Phillip Keller was born in Kenya and then moved to the United States. To describe this principle he tells the story of the growing up there.
The majority of people did not really think of themselves as subjects of the King of England. After all they lived on the coast of Africa and were mostly black. The King was white and lived across the sea.
But then one day it was announced that the King was sending his son the Prince of Wales to visit the country and to bring a piece of England with Him. In his city they arranged to welcome the Prince. When he arrived there was a large ceremony to welcome him. The Prince stopped and shook hands with and greeted as many people as possible. The Mayor presented the Prince with the keys to the city. It symbolically represented that they had turned not just authority but everything in the city over to the Prince. Why because when the Prince came, they felt that England came with him. They now felt and connection to England and the King because the Prince had come.
Do you see it? That’s exactly what God did. We were distant from God. We were cut off by the ocean of our own sins. His holy nature was different from ours. But then He sent His only Son to visit us. When He did, the kingdom of Heaven was not just the distant place where God sits on His throne, it is right here where we live. But the great thing about the King of Kings is that His Kingdom is also within each of us. The Prince of Wales eventually went home, but even though Jesus returned to Heaven, the Spirit of God still dwells in the hearts of believers. God is with us and within us every day. His desire is to transform us so that we are more and more like Him.