The pursuit of living a life of purpose comes with surprises, challenges, and obstacles. Take my son for example: My son loves Star Wars. He just doesn’t know it yet.
There’s so much depth and richness in the overarching Star Wars story that’s been weaved into the fabric of our culture for the past five decades. So I can’t wait to introduce him to the characters and universe of Star Wars and hopefully I won’t have to go see future Star Wars movies in theaters by myself (my wife wants nothing to do with the franchise).
So not long ago I sat in the theater (with tickets for one) anticipating the familiar theme song with the scrolling text. I most looked forward to seeing where Luke Skywalker was in his journey in "The Last Jedi" (Possible spoilers ahead).
Star Wars and life purpose
When we finally got to hear Luke Skywalker speak, he was no longer the hero that we last saw when he brought Anakin back from the Dark Side.
He was… jaded. Grumpy. Disconnected. Disinterested.
He secluded himself from the universe.
I couldn’t figure out what was more surprising to me: his insistence that the Jedi order needed to be extinct or that he completely cut himself off from the Force.
We learned what led Luke to live on the lonely planet of Ahch-To alone. And here was the young rising hero, Rey, come to pull Luke out of seclusion, trying to get Luke to again be the hero she believed he was.
Driven by guilt and disillusioned by his failure to train Kylo as a Jedi, Luke was blinded to the hope that was represented in Rey.
Moses and calling
It reminded me of another story:
Moses thought himself as the hero for the Israelite slaves. After all, he had connections no other Hebrew had.
So when Moses saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite, he decided to take a step towards his heroic destiny and intervened by killing the Egyptian.
The following day, when he tried to break up a fight between two Israelites, he discovered that he wasn’t considered a hero. In fact, he was met with some resentment. Fearing for his life, he fled Egypt.
He ended up in Midian and married a local girl.
For forty years, he tended the flock of his father in-law’s sheep — going through the motions of life. Then one day, he saw the burning bush.
Many feel that Moses saw that one bush on that particular day. But I’ve always felt that the bush had been burning for most of the past forty years. In fact, I even like to think that God tried to get Moses’ attention in other ways — maybe with like a burning, flying bird.
Disillusioned by his failure to be Israel’s hero, Moses was blinded to the hope that’s found in God.
Both Rey and the burning bush were trying to get their heroes to stop looking in on themselves and to start looking up to see how much they were needed by the world surrounding them. The heroes needed to understand they still had a purpose.
But both Luke and Moses were resistant to step into their destiny once more. Their failures stung. They were unsure of who they were and what their purposes in life were. They were content with dying alone in their self-imposed exile.
A simple plan
The truth of the matter is, following God’s plan is simple, but it’s never easy.
The pursuit of living the God-following life comes with challenges and obstacles. It often competes with and complicates the life we want to live.
When God’s plan doesn’t align with what we want — it often leaves us broken; bitter; jaded; disillusioned; guilt-ridden; detached…
Yet God (… or the Force) wasn’t done with our heroes.
In this season of life, one of the more powerful words I keep coming back to is “yet.”
Moses and Luke both had not yet fulfilled a greater purpose.
The burning bush and Rey were able to get our heroes to move away from their disillusionment and into their purpose, respectively (and eventually).
I may not know you personally, but there are two things I do know. First, you have a greater purpose in life and the most fulfilling, powerful, meaningful, and purposeful life is in following Christ.
And if you’re having a difficult time accepting that — perhaps a sign of hope and affirmation has been around you this whole time (a la a burning bush/Rey) and were too distracted to notice.
Yet God, remains faithful and loving in spite and despite of us.
Because, the other thing I know is, you matter deeply to God — even if God may not matter to you (yet).
Yes, may the force be with you.
But also know that God is always with you. And God isn’t done with you yet.
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Joseph Yoo is a West Coaster at heart living in Houston, Texas with his wife and son. He serves as an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church Pearland. Find more of his writings at josephyoo.com
[Posted April 30, 3018]