It’s a tale as old as time… boy meets girl, boy tries to rescue girl, boy kisses girl, boy finds out girl is his twin sister, and boy realizes that a terrifyingly savage galactic robot ninja man is actually his father and gets his hand cut off. Maybe you had a different plot synopsis for Star Wars? We all remember it differently I suppose… either way, if there is a single bone of your body that has ever yearned to wield a lightsaber then you owe it to yourself to give Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order a go. This one has everything you want from a proper, canon, single-player, narrative-based Star Wars experience… a plucky Jedi hero, a cute droid sidekick (I think that is a requirement of all Star Wars licensed products), an ominous, menacing Empire threat (dressed all in black because it is slimming), and the weight of the universe on your shoulders. Yep, throw that all in a blender and it comes out STAR WARS. Delicious, thick, frothy Star Wars… mmmm….
I won’t delve into spoiler territory here, so let’s keep it simple… Darth Vader is executing the infamous Order 66 to slaughter all Jedi in the universe, making the act of being a Jedi seriously hazardous to your health. Faster than you can start humming the beat of the BeeGee’s “Stayin’ Alive” (ah ah ah ah staying alive, staying alive) you find yourself stuck in the middle of a much larger story of galactic importance. In the process of trying to save yourself as well as the remnants of the Jedi Order…well… you can probably guess what is coming next… droids will be sliced into spare parts, stormtroopers will need to fill out some worker’s compensation claims, and your lightsaber will be heavily used to slice through absolutely everything on your way to the final showdown. Well, it will slice through everything EXCEPT for doors and walls. Those remain pretty impervious to your lightsaber. Only name-brand Jedi get to do that. Like Liam Neeson.
Casting his dark shadow throughout your game is the impending threat of Darth Vader’s unstoppable march towards complete Jedi eradication, courtesy of his Inquisitors. They certainly all seem to shop at the same place. And as Vader’s fist slowly but surely closes around the last vestiges of the once proud Jedi order, I had to stop and think about arguably the WORST father figure in the history of the galaxy. This guy checks enough boxes to have a full Maury Povich episode all to himself… he was responsible for the death of his children’s mother, missed his children’s birth due to issues with his in-laws, was vacant throughout the entirety of their adult life, and when he finally comes face to face with his children it is not a “happy family reunion”. He captures and tries to torture his daughter for information before assisting in the obliteration of her homeworld, and when he meets his son face-to-face he cuts off his son’s hand after a vicious and deadly battle. No matter how horrific your father figure has been in life… that’s definitely a pretty stacked deck.
Our experience with the father figures in our lives, for better or worse, have a direct impact on how we view our Heavenly Father. Some of us have been fortunate enough to have a loving, caring, supportive parental figure in our lives who did their very best to set us up for growth and success in life. For others, the mere mention of a father figure can conjure up horrible memories, dark feelings, and a complicated web of emotions. But no matter how amazing or flawed your father figures may have been in your life, their human mistakes and failings still color the way you view God and perceive His interactions in your life.
We live in a fallen world… a world where many of humanity’s worst impulses run rampant, filling our lives with evil actions, senseless violence and painful loss. This was not the way the world was designed to be… but blaming God for what we have done with this planet makes about as much sense as blaming the contractor who built your home when you stub your toe on the coffee table inside of it. He gave us a perfect world and we abused it and each other in our pursuit of happiness. But now, when we experience the ramifications of a world built around self-gratification without a defined morale absolute we experience these horrible pains and sadness and hold God responsible for it. The reality of what our loving Father wants to give us could not be further from this…
Matthew 7:9-10 What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
So how do we justify this verse, which clearly states our loving Father’s desire to give us good gifts, with the day to day reality many of us experience? In the face of all of the global suffering, trauma, and drama that we see, hear, and experience on a day-to-day basis it can be challenging to explain as a believer and down-right impossible to understand from a non-believer’s perspective. Fortunately, the Bible, as usual, has the answer.
Due to the horrors and circumstances many of us have endured through life, it is possible that when we think of our Heavenly Father we conjure up an image that is more like the ominous presence of Darth Vader than the infinitely good and kind Creator of all that exists. We think of Him as someone who has abandoned us, maybe taken what we loved from us, stood idly by as what we cherish was destroyed, and because we know we have sinned we think He is stalking us everywhere we go so He can punish us for our human weakness and mistakes. But here is what HE has to say on the matter…
Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Think about it like this. Many loving parents will give their child a bicycle for Christmas this holiday season. This will be widely accepted, encouraged, and for many children EXPECTED. Now my personal experience as a child/teenager on a bike was anything but peaceful. I have wrecked my bike, crashed my bike, and I have been laid out on my back in the middle of an intersection after accidentally flipping that cursed bike in the air (in spectacular fashion I might add) while I watched one of my tires just roll off down the road. And then my bike landed on me. My parents were quite sure I was going to kill myself on that thing. Day after day I would come home dragging my bike, covered in scratches and blood, and then the next day I would air up those tires and ride it again. #TeenagersKnowBest
They didn’t get me the bike as a down payment plan on my eventual death by bicycle… they gave it to me because I ASKED for it. It was the environment around me (as well as my own poor riding choices along the way) that made this good gift a death trap. They showed me the right way to ride it and maintain it… but once I took off under my own volition all they could do was watch, pray, and stay stocked up on hydrogen peroxide. Likewise, the Lord has given us a planet that is full of resources and potential. Humanity, as a collective over the years, have turned this beautiful blue marble into a hate-filled ball of sin and death. But even now, our loving Father stands at the ready to answer our prayers and give us good gifts.
I pray this encourages you today… in this gift-giving season our Father has the perfect gift for your situation, but there are a few variables here. We must seek HIM, not the gift. And He does not answer prayers that we choose not to pray. While the answer to those prayers can sometimes be “No”, or “Not yet”, we can rest assured that regardless of our experience with human fathers and “father figures” that our Heavenly Father is only here to give us good and perfect gifts. What we do with them? That’s up to us…
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