Summary: A sernon dealing with the uncertainty of life and God’s presence despite that uncertainity
WAS FORREST’S MOMMA CORRECT?
Have you ever wondered what your purpose in life is? Do you continually wonder as to why you were placed on this earth? To an extent we have all been called to share the gospel, but surely there must be more for me specifically taking up space on an overcrowded planet. Do you ever worry about the future? Has the word "destiny" ever crossed your mind? The "loves" you may have had in the past or present; the relationships in which you have experienced. What about your chosen career, vocation, school of higher education, the town in which you live, the church in which you attend, your would have’s, should have’s, or could have’s? These are all part of our lives, our inner being, our person-hood, our identity, our makeup, our "destiny," our journey, who we are. Am I going to get married? Where am I going to live? What am I going to be when I grow up? Possibly, like my wife asks me sometimes will I ever grow up? What am I going to do? Where am I going to go? How big will my family be, if I choose to have one? Will anything catastrophic happen to me? When will I die? Where will I go when I die?
In my ministry as a hospital chaplain the past couple years, I have talked to many an individual about these very same issues. I find it amazing how much one begins to deal with these types of questions when one is facing illness. I also believe however, we all ask these types of questions at one point or another in our lives as well. Questions like these have crossed all of our minds. I think it is part of what it means to be human.
Several years ago a movie came out titled Forrest Gump. I know what you’ve probably all seen it before but if you would be so kind, just humor me a few moments and you’ll get my point. The main character in the movie was a man named Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks, and Sally Fields as his momma. The movie won several 1995 Academy of Motion Picture Association awards including Best Actor (Hanks), and Motion Picture of the year. If you have seen it, bare with me, if not, the story line is quite simple, yet extremely inspirational.
The story is about the life and times of a man named Forrest Gump. Forrest is a man in his early thirties and he is reflecting on his life. He is sharing his story with several individuals while sitting at a bus stop waiting to see his one true love. Forrest is from a small town in Alabama, has had a few physical problems, and a somewhat low IQ. The story starts out in the early fifties and through three turbulent decades, Forrest rides the tides of events that whisks him from physical disability to football stardom at the University of Alabama. From Vietnam hero to shrimp tycoon, from White House honors to the arms of his one true love. Forrest is an embodiment of an era, an innocent at large in an America that is loosing its innocence. Got all of that right off the box.
His life is one adventure after another, one heartache after another, one success after another, one question after another. He gains a lot of what little wisdom he has from his momma. She teaches Forrest the ways of life through such wise, clever little sayings that would even make King Solomon proud. One of the most catchy of her sayings (and the focus of this sermon) is "Life is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re going to get." We never know what is going to happen in our lives. To an extent, life is a big futuristic mystery; a journey on a road filled with curves, construction, detours, hills, and stoplights. We never know what is going to happen until it happens. We usually begin to plan out lives in high school. Generally, this is where we begin to think about continued education, career planning, some financial planning, and maybe even some family planning.
This process continues as we grow, but no matter how much we plan or how well we plan, what we try to do on our own, sometimes "fate" plays a cruel trick on us, and our lives change and go in a different direction. Sometimes through stupidity (either ours or someone else’s) or illness we die at an early age. Over the past two years at St. Luke’s, I have provided some kind of pastoral care to grieving families of at last count 96 people who have died. Roughly a third of which were below the age of thirty. I’ve ministered to the family of the twenty year old who was shot and killed in drive by shooting, to the family of the twenty-one year old who couldn’t handle life anymore and with the help of a .38 took his own life. I’ve ministered to the family of the engaged twenty-three year old college student who died in a head on collision in his pickup truck. I prayed a reconciliatory prayer with a back-slidden thirty year old, who three weeks later died due to complications with pneumonia from having contracted HIV and AIDS from his life- style. I’ve ministered to the twenty-eight year old and his family who had fought HIV and AIDS for the last ten years of his life as he had contracted the virus from a blood transfusion he had received as a teenager due to his hemophilia. I’ve been with the family of the otherwise healthy twenty-nine year old who just keeled over from a massive coronary and died. Sometimes we lose loved-ones and friends due to various situations and the toll it takes on us is enormous. Sometimes the career we have chosen changes and we journey into another one and have to begin back at square one. There are just so many things that can happen, that no matter how hard or how well we plan, the direction we have started in, may not be where we wind up. No matter how much we dislike it, things change in our lifetime, and usually more than once. The fact is, our lives our are really not in our hands. The box of chocolate belongs to someone else.