The Force Awakens: When Our World Falls Apart
So far I've seen the Force Awakens twice now. It's not even been out a week, but I saw it on opening night and then took my whole family the following Monday morning. The notion of seeing these characters I had grown up knowing and loving returning to the big screen was pure magic to me. Seeing Han, Chewie, Luke, and Leia was just gold, but it was bitter sweet, because 32 years later, even in a galaxy far far away, they weren't better off. Back in Return of the Jedi, they had defeated the empire, found love, become solid in their identity, and had the whole galaxy and their future ahead of them. Yet when we reunite with the characters, Han is out being a scruffy looking nerf herder again, smuggling his life away with Chewie. Leia is back to fighting against the darkness in the world of politics and military; sure, it's gone from the rebellion to the resistance, but it's the same fight. And Luke is off hiding in some remote location. It may not be the Degobah system, but he's still off in the middle of nowhere doing no one any good. That's heart-breaking. When they had all the potential and future before them, they chose to go right back to where they started.
This situation isn't just limited to our galactic heroes though. Virtually the same situation took place in scripture. After the disciples lost their leader, they had basically scattered and reverted back to the places they had come from in their hearts. Obviously with Jesus gone, it seemed like everything was over and their worlds were truly done. If they had paid any attention to Jesus at all, this wouldn't have phased them. Their world with Jesus was over and they had basically decided to fall back on where they had come from.
Han stated, "I went back to the only thing I was ever good at." To which Leia responded "So did I." Well, Simon Peter was in the same boat...or ship...
John 21:2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana of Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 “I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter said to them. “We’re coming with you,” they told him. They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. These disciples went fishing. This wasn't like fishing as a leisure thing. This was career-level fishing. They were out all night casting nets and they had returned to the identities they possessed before Jesus had impacted their lives. Like our galactic heroes, these guys had done big things. They may not have blown up multiple Death Stars, but they had healed the sick, seen the dead raised, seen countless miracles and watched the power of God be manifested in the form of Jesus, but they still reverted to who they used to be. Why? Because their world fell apart.
Luke failed as a Jedi master, his padawan had gone to the dark side and became a monster, Han and Leia lost a son and their relationship, and the disciples lost their Messiah. Their worlds had all effectively collapsed and they were all lost, struggling and hurting. So they reverted to their previous ways, virtually ignoring all that they had seen and become. I get it, I really do. When my world collapses I want to return to the comfortable situations, interact with the people that I know what their responses will be, take the safe route and basically wallow in failure and defeat. I've wanted to take that route so many times, but the problem is that when we take this route, we lose all hope for the future and ignore what God has for us in our life. We make the mistake of thinking that failure means there will never be victory again. In Star Wars this is the same crew that kept going after the events of Empire Strike Back and rose again. They had blown up two Death Stars and effectively destroyed the empire, yet after one very personal failure, they all gave up and hid, just like the disciples who knew they had completely failed their master and had nowhere to go but back to who they were before. Here’s the problem in both situations: they knew there was a possibility of hope and redemption.
Our Jedi friends still knew there was light in Kylo. Luke was still the strongest Jedi in the world. The real kicker is that when the disciples were giving up and going fishing they had already SEEN JESUS after the resurrection. They knew he had come back, but they still were in crisis mode where they were still trying to figure out what life would be like without their Messiah. But Jesus had already appeared to them and specifically showed who He was, but still they missed the memo. Even after seeing Jesus risen, they went out to work the sea and got back into who they were before, but just like Leia and Han, they would never have found satisfaction in their old positions as long as they knew their Savior was out there, which is why I find is it so hard to fathom that Han went back to smuggling, even though he knew his son was out there and had been consumed with the Dark Side. How could he leave Leia knowing she was broken and needed him even more? How could Luke go into hiding instead of fighting tooth and nail to redeem Kylo?
That's the problem when our world falls apart, sometimes it just seems like the painful events in our life are just too big for us to even fight, and the only thing we can do is to run away. When our world seems unstable, we run to the closest thing to a safe place we know. The problem is that fishing, smuggling, or leading a military is never going to be the substitute for dealing with whatever we are running from. All of the people mentioned had such future ahead of them. Luke was going to be what restored balance to the force, Peter was going to be The Rock whose profession of faith the Church was built on, and Han and Leia were going to be the couple with the greatest sassy and witty romantic comments, but when we run to the safety of our past to escape the problems in our present, we lose all potential of what's in store in our future.
We have to be willing to deal with the conflict when our world falls apart, because ultimately we will never be satisfied as long as we are running. I know that things turned out poorly for Han when he confronted Kylo, but he also wasted years where he could have been reached, and years when he and Leia could have been together, just as Luke waisted years he could have been a light in the galaxy. I assume we will be having new adventures in episode 8 and 9 that deal with these remaining conflicts, but the fact they waited so long and tried to ignore their problems just amplified the issues. I admire Peter so much. All the disciples had failed Jesus, but Peter's was especially bitter. He failed Jesus on some big levels, and even after Jesus had returned Peter still was returning to his past, but he had a deciding moment back in John 21:
4 When daybreak came, Jesus stood on the shore. However, the disciples did not know it was Jesus. 5 “Men,”Jesus called to them, “you don’t have any fish, do you?”“No,” they answered.6 “Cast the net on the
right side of the boat,” He told them, “and you’ll find some.” So they did, and they were unable to haul it in because of the large number of fish. 7 Therefore the disciple, the one Jesus loved, said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”..."
When Peter saw that Jesus was there he was in the same place as Luke and Han when they saw Kylo had turned to the Dark Side. Either face it head on, or run away. Go face Ren, or go smuggle. Go face Jesus, or go back to fishing. I love Peter's choice.
"...When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tied his outer garment around him (for he was stripped) and plunged into the sea." When Peter realized it was Jesus he could have made the cowardly choice and kept fishing and ignored the painful encounter before him, but I think he knew after a night of fishing that he couldn’t find peace, satisfaction, or purpose in pulling those nets because he knew that Jesus had placed a higher purpose on him, and that if it took a painful interaction it would be worth it. And yes, their interaction was a bit painful. John 21: "15 When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”
“Feed My lambs,” He told him. 16 A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.” “Shepherd My sheep,” He told him. 17 He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.” “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said. 18 “I assure you: When you were young, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.” 19 He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God. After saying this, He told him, “Follow Me!”"
Luke made that painful, uncomfortable face at the end of episode 7 as Rey extended his saber, and I truly believe that face was Luke's realization that there was no way he could run from this situation. Yes, his world had fallen apart, yes, he had failed his nephew, his sister, and his friend, but he had hidden
too long, and now it was time for him to deal with his future. This was the same moment Peter had when he saw Jesus was waiting for Him. Hopefully all of us will be brave enough to deal with the world collapsing pain that comes with painful situations and never turn back and run to our comfort zones.
Luke 9:62 "Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”"