A New Hope

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The first Star Wars movie hit theaters when I was 7 years old. Like almost every young boy on earth, I quickly longed to be Luke Skywalker, who was cinematically introduced as the only hope for the redemption of the universe. As the trilogy unwound, Luke matured into a legendary Jedi Knight who did ultimately become the hero of the galaxy. Through his triumphs and his failures, Luke ultimately discovered that the true hope of the galaxy was not him, but rather the force which indwelled him. His path to becoming a Jedi Knight was a spiritual journey in which venerable Master Yoda continually reminded him of the need to empty himself spiritually and unlearn what he thought he knew. In the end, the lesson is learned and Luke succeeds through surrender. Not by surrendering to his enemies, but by surrendering to the indwelling power of the force, which guided him to peace, serenity, and victory.

For 3 decades, Star Wars has inspired people who instinctively feel trapped in a world seemingly under the control of a dark power but who also instinctively know that there must be a force which can eventually lead to redemption.

Before you read on, stop at the door and check your self-righteous desire to rebuke me for being a pastor who draws or deals theological implications from Star Wars. I like theology and I like Star Wars and I probably like you. Star Wars is not the destination, but the vehicle for my pontification today. These are not the droids you are looking for. Move along.

I have recently become Luke Skywalker. I have begun a quest that has taught me to appreciate the power of hope and the prospect of redemption. As it was for Luke, this was for me an unwanted journey. I sure wasn’t seeking it. I felt betrayed by those who promised to love me, kicked off of the spaceship and left to die on a cold, wintry, dark planet of which I had no knowledge or experience. Some friends were lost. True friends were revealed. But in the end, most folks in the universe went on as though they didn’t even notice what happened to me. I was more shocked by the latter group than the former two.

For months I staggered, wondering as I was wandering. Never have I felt such hurt, betrayal, loss, and emptiness. But God never left me. As I have learned to sit in silence and listen to the lessons of the Master, He has comforted me, challenged me, and changed me. My valley has been filled with unspeakable peace – and with a new hope – hope that God desires to do more through me in my future than He has in my past. That hope has led me to the greatest truth I’ve ever discovered. Would you like to hear it? It’s very simple – you probably won’t even be impressed. Here it is: I – am – not – the – hope – of – this – universe. I not only don’t have all the answers, I don’t even know all the questions! You may have already suspected that I wasn’t very important. I wish you would have shared that with me sooner. For years, my own pride has kept me bound to the lie that I’m somehow the hero of the story. Boy, was I wrong!

I’ve learned that the man of God has no value, importance, or ability apart from the force that guides his life. Jesus Christ holds the beginning and the end and He controls this universe. He is the force that guides all things and binds them together. On my unexpected journey I have personally come to trust the Holy Spirit enough to surrender to His will for my life. You may think you have. Truth is, you will never truly know until who you are and what you do has been stripped from you and it’s just the Lord and you. In that moment, you will discover who you really are. In that moment, God can forge you into a warrior who is so filled with the power of the Holy Spirit that you will be willing to win by surrendering yourself.

The climactic moment of the Star Wars trilogy takes place in the final battle when Luke Skywalker finally understands that he can only win through surrender. Luke is confronted with a new realization that will change him and make him a vessel for the full power of the force. He learned that the most powerful enemy we face is the pride of our own hearts. I have learned the same lesson. I now want to empty myself of myself daily and live in the power that only God can provide. I want to see what the full force of God can do in and through my life. Does that make me a Jedi Knight?

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