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My Past, Present, and Future
Unless you’ve been floating in space like Tony Stark, you’ve probably heard of “Avengers: Endgame.” The movie brought together dozens of characters and Easter eggs developed throughout the storylines of 22 prior films. In the first weekend, the film grossed over one billion dollars, shattering previous records.
Marvel Movies has 22-film plotline with the Avengers that has kept the world watching for over a decade. Marvel superheroes have a human touch to them. Not only do the movies focus on fighting and the missions of these heroes, but they also delve into their personal lives. For instance, we see Bruce Banner struggle in everyday things, such as his relationship with Black Widow and the emotional toll of being The Hulk. The characters have a special place in our hearts; we get to know them as humans as well as heroes. This combination of everyday, relatable people and personal faults affecting their superpowers and their mission to save the world, galaxy, or universe draws us in.
Do you relate to a superhero? I relate to Peter “Star-Lord” Quill. The whole Guardians of the Galaxy group of characters is a quirky bunch. Maybe it’s the ‘best music ever’ I grew up with as a baby boomer that he plays constantly. Or his attitude that compensates for his angst. These are stories that have relatable characters with God-like powers; we are drawn into the worlds of these stories as the plot unfolds. No matter how ridiculous it is to the sensible part of us, we bypass logic, reason, and reality as we know it and are emersed in their world for two hours.
We are built for engaging in and living out stories. We were knitted together by God with this characteristic. He is the ultimate teller-of-stories. We are superheroes. We have superpowers, and we have angst. Our story is a dramatic one. God has wisdom for us today. The wisdom that gives us insight about the process that reconciles our broken ways, our angst, with the superpower, save-the-world lives we are designed to live. This is why we engage in the Marvel stories. They are us in many ways.
God intended us to be His image-bearers as we live out life on planet earth. An image is a representation of the original. In the book of Genesis in the Bible, the Hebrew word for image is “shadow.” We are created to be a shadow of God while living on the earth. A shadow is connected to the original. Have you seen the youtube videos where a toddler discovers her shadow on the sidewalk and runs from it only to see it follow her everywhere? It freaks her out! (see it here- https://youtu.be/_9gSBJpDISs )
From the beginning of Psalm 139, we confront this type of connection with God. He knows everything about you and me. We are connected. When is a shadow not seen? When there’s no light. Think about that; our struggles grow in darkness. The place where there’s no shadow seen. No reminder that we are always connected with God. Today in Psalms 139, verses 5 and 6 will shed more light on this connection. The Shadow will emerge!
Psalm 139:5-6 NIV
5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
These past two weeks verses 1-4 have revealed some significant truth;
With verse 5, it looks as if God may be apprehending us. He surrounds us from the back to the front. He “lays his hand” on us. Does he have a warrant for our arrest? No. His hand is the hand of a friend. He is a true friend. It is not to hold us back or push us around. It is significant in that laying his hand on us is a point of connection. He initiates the joining together of our life with his. He has a constant connection with his image bearer, his shadow. Unlike the toddler who is freaked out over her shadow, it is us, the shadow, that is freaked out over the connection. God, who casts us as His shadow is always connected and never “freaked out” about the connection. Here is how it reads in the Passion Translation;
Psalm 139:5-6 -TPT
You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness, you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me. This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible! Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.
This translation captures the strength of the connection. God’s love looks like these two verses. Love goes before us with a purpose. Loves purpose is to prepare the way for you and me. Our future has already been inhabited by the love God has for us. It has made a home for me, a place to live out my life, in my future timeline before I get there. Woah!
Dignitaries, like our U.S. President, have advance teams that arrive at a destination before him. Months before he arrives, all the details of his visit are walked out. Security is set in place. Decisions are made about who has access and when they have access to the president once he arrives. We have an advance team. Our way has been prepared. God is our advance team. He has set up the future for you and me.
Loves purpose is also to protect us from being attacked by our past. This security detail is available to disarm our history. Childhood trauma is a good example. The trauma suffered in childhood will continue to harm us in our present life; it must be disarmed. The disarming is when we are healed emotionally and spiritually from it. God, as our protector, will love us through the process of inner healing. This is an important component of fully living a life God intended you to have.
I was working with a man in addiction recovery. Jerry told me about his experiences in high school. When he was a freshman, he had a gym class with a boy, Daryl, who was older but nice to him. Instead of taking the long ride on the school bus home, Daryl offered to drive him home after school. He was driven home several times. A couple of weeks into this Darryl found out that Jerry’s parents both worked and didn’t get home until later on the evening. Darryl would hang out at Jerry’s. Their hang out time progressed from video games to movies Darryl brought, to fondling. Jerry felt like he couldn’t say no to these activities, even though he felt ashamed. Eventually, Jerry quit accepting rides. Daryl lost interest in him. A few weeks later as he boarded the school bus home, Jerry saw Daryl giving another freshman boy a ride home.
The experience with Daryl was traumatic. It affected Jerry’s present-day life as a man. He was still connected to his past shame. That shame pushed its way into his present identity. As we met together over several weeks, Jerry shared his story with me. Father-God was with us as we talked through this childhood experience. He saw how Jerry was attached to it as if it had happened yesterday. Childhood trauma can bring the pain with its messages into our present-day reality if it is not healed. The bottom line is that God helped Jerry be free of his past trauma. Be free of the shame. He even forgave Daryl. He also forgave himself for not intervening when he saw another freshman boy with Daryl. Based on his own experience, he knew that Daryl was traumatizing that kid too,
God disarmed childhood trauma. God’s loving care with Daryl in the process of telling his story freed him and removed the shame. Shame was gone because of God’s redemptive process that is available to any of us. This redemptive process is the “hand of love upon my life.” The results of this process is an “imparted blessing.” The blessing is that God spares us from the harm of our past. It is a solid promise. God following behind us and preparing the way in front of us go hand in hand with each other. With God, we will not experience one without the other.
We shed a lot of light on verse 5. Are you beginning to see how you are God's shadow? Don’t be freaked out when you do see it! Next week we will look at verse 6. These verses hold insights that are pivotal to growing into oneness with God. They are pivotal to discovering the missing parts of your identity. Yes, we'll talk more about the superhero part of who we are!If what you have read so far resonates with you, but you’re not sure how to go about this process, then contact us. You may reach either me (Rocky) or Lila through our email or our phone numbers listed on our website. The best growth in life is intentional. Make intentionality a mainstay of your life.
Selma, CA 93662-0297