He is ALWAYS there

There is a new song by Colton Dixon called “Through All of It”, it is about God and how He is always there no matter what. It doesn’t matter how far we fall or how many times we stumble. Now that can sometimes be a difficult concept to wrap your head around, because humans, frankly, are not always awesome. We lie, cheat, we’re selfish, we say/do things that we shouldn’t have, and can hurt our fellow man. Yet, God never leaves. How do we know this? Because the very instant, we realize our faults and ask for forgiveness, God’s love, grace and mercy are there to greet us every time. And let’s be honest, this scenario has and will play itself out more than once in one’s life time.

In a previous post I wrote about grace and how it’s enough for Darth Vader and then some. In that post I quoted John 1:16 which reads, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” This means that God gives us ALL grace, and then some more, and then some. And thankfully so, because we humans need it.

This morning my kids and I watched “Return of the Jedi” because tomorrow is Star Wars Day. (May the 4th be with you!) While watching Darth Vader continue to do his well, Vader stuff, it got me thinking about the light side of the force, and how it stayed with Anakin the whole time he was following the dark side. Many, to include Yoda and Obi Wan, felt that Anakin was a lost cause, that turning to the dark side was something that he could not turn back from. This may seem a little harsh, but these two saw first hand Anakin’s initial actions as Darth Vader, and Obi Wan had to fight Darth Vader. He certainly felt his anger. So you can’t really blame them for seeing Anakin in this light. But because they felt this so strongly, they refused to acknowledge someone else’s, hint Luke’s, feelings about Anakin. After all Luke was Anakin’s son, and had a much different connection to him, then Obi Wan or Yoda. Of course in the end, Luke was right because Anakin managed to fight his way back from dark side.

The closing scene, or next to the closing scene, shows Anakin reunited not only with Yoda and Obi Wan, but also with the light side of the force. Now how could this have happened so quickly? Because the light side never left him. Through all of his Vader foolishness, the light side never once left his side.

In the same way God, with His grace, His love, His mercy, and His blessings, are there to greet us as soon as we turn back and return to who we were created to be. Amazing isn’t? To have a God who loves us in this fashion, is an incredible blessing. He is our rock, and He will never give up. A love like this deserves every praise we can muster, and He accepts them no matter where it is we just returned from.

His grace will catch you every time you fall, it’s enough for Darth Vader and then some.

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Travis and Skywalker

I know what you may be thinking having read the title and now wondering just what in the world this post is about. Well the post is about heroes, all the many characteristics that makes someone a hero and one very important thing that is not required, perfection. We, as a society, place our heroes on rather high pedestal expecting to hear/read that they always made the right choices or led a completely admirable life. But the truth is, that’s not true.

William Barret Travis and Anakin Skywalker don’t have much a common, obviously one is a historical figure and the other a fictional character. Travis fought with wits and rifle, Anakin with the force and a lightsaber. But they were both heroes and, they were both flawed. They both led lives that made many people believe that they are not what heroes are made of. Travis was a man who well…would have had quite a few notches carved on his dashboard. He abandoned his wife in Alabama, he was hot headed and to quote Jason Patric’s Jim Bowie from the 2004 Alamo movie, a “two-bit dandy”. Yet he still had with in him the makings of a hero, a guy whose sacrifice inspired an entire army and who now has lakes, counties, schools, and streets named in his honor. H.W. Brand writes in his book Lone Star Nation about when Travis changed, “As the burden of command fell on Travis, he grew into his authority in a way that must have surprised those who had known him chiefly as a bellicose young buck. He had been glib; now he became eloquent. He had been headstrong; now he was heroic.” It is difficult to image what it must have been like for Travis to shoulder all this responsibility, after all he was only 26 years old when he died.

Anakin also had a lot put on his shoulders at a young age, he was 23 maybe 24 when he became Darth Vader. Anakin also led a life that wasn’t always heroic, he was prideful and struggled with patience, anger, and doubt. Also like Travis not many would have guessed that Anakin would have risen to the challenge at his own moment of truth. Both Travis and Anakin died shortly after their moment of heroism, Travis about a week later and Anakin, only lived for a few minutes. It is important to remember that heroes are people, just like everyone else, and they make mistakes, just like everyone else. Heroes have the courage to make the right decisions at the right time, and that is what matters most. I am not saying that we should “sugar coat” the life of a hero because that does both them and us a disservice, but rather accept the whole person.

There is a song by the band Third Day called “Born Again” and the very beginning of the song I think describes what the moment of heroism maybe felt like to these men. “Well today I found myself after searching all these years, and the man that I saw, he wasn’t at all who I thought he’d be.” Travis came to Texas to find work as a lawyer and run away from his debts. Anakin turned to the dark side of force in search of power and recognition. Yet both men grew and changed a short period of time and found their identity.

A Bible verse that is hugely popular when speaking of heroes is John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Now this is something that both Anakin and Travis did. Anakin for Luke (and the galaxy) and Travis for all Texans, who were living at the time and those yet to come.

To all heroes past, present and future, thank you.

Grace Enough for Darth Vader…and then some!

Grace, the exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor: disposition to benefit or to serve another. Grace is mentioned several times in the Bible like in John 1:16 which says, “Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given,” some translations even say grace upon grace. So God gives us ALL grace on top of grace, a double portion. We are all recipients of grace, it is through grace that we are forgiven, it is because of grace (which is there to catch us when we fall) that we can go out and speak the truth of Jesus to the world.

God doesn’t hold grace back from anyone, even Darth Vader. Darth Vader?! But Darth Vader said allĀ that stuff and did allĀ those things! Yes he did, but in the end grace came rushing back to his true identity, Anakin Skywalker. Why? Because he opened himself up to it, even though he didn’t think that he deserved it. Nobody deserves grace but, we all receive daily, its always there. God doesn’t look at how someone behaved that day and decide how much grace they will get because He doesn’t base it on actions. It says in Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then it can not be based works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” We don’t have to earn grace, its open to everyone even our Darth Vader’s.

God will reach down and light up the sky for you no matter how far you fall; He is a God who allows U-turns. We, like Anakin, will keep stumbling over where we were, what we did, what we said, trying to apologize or explain ourselves to God. He is focused on the present and the future and we are tripping over the past-thinking that it should have some effect on the present.

**Not that its not important to ask for forgiveness, God just forgives rather quickly and we don’t always notice and start dwell and keep making sure that we are really forgiven.**

After Anakin dies at the end of Return of the Jedi, the last thing he expected was to be reunited with light side of the force and that Obi Wan would be there to greet him. Pretty surprising for a guy who spent 20 years as Darth Vader and well…was the one who killed Obi Wan. When Anakin asked, “Why me?” Obi Wan said, “Because you ended the curse.” Anakin did it, he stopped it, he brought himself back from the dark side. It was his calling and he fulfilled it, then grace was there to greet him.

Who you are in God is something that nothing and no one can take away. Even when you take a detour or make a mistake, your calling is still your calling. Grace keeps it in place, because grace knows that you CAN reclaim it or even see it for the first time. Our God is a God of second chances, He will be there to pick you up when you fall ready to give you a double portion of grace. It enough for you, its enough for me and its even enough for Darth Vader…and then some!

As it says in Hebrews 13:25, “Grace be with you all.”