Who Controls Your Box of Crayons?

There is a song called “Write Your Story” by Francesca Battistelli. The song is about allowing God to be the author of your story. At one point in the song Francesca sings, “My life, I know its never really been mine. So do with it whatever You like.” It is powerful lyric, but one that rings true. If one is really going to fulfill their place in the Kingdom, they need to give control to God. Which I know that that can be difficult because we humans like to have control, we like to know what will come next, we like to plan. But if one is going to follow God’s plan, control is one of the first things that needs to be let go of. And I can say that, for me, letting go of control has been nothing but awesome.

By now you may be wondering, just what is up with the title. I got the idea after watching the series finale of How I Met Your Mother, which I had some problems with. I was presented with a completely colored in picture, and I didn’t like some of the colors that they used. God brought to my attention the idea of one’s life being a picture that gets colored in bit by bit, and whoever is control of the box of crayons has control of how the picture looks. Who is it that could be eligible for control, or who at any point holds all or some of the crayons? Possibilities could be, the individual, God, other people, the ways of the world or even the enemy himself. All these possibilities can influence how a season or series of seasons in our lives can turn out, the choices/mistakes that we make, the joys and the heartaches. The Bible says in Psalm 143:10, “Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” This verse speaks about trusting God, and allowing Him to color your picture. And I would encourage you to trust Him, because He can produce some pretty awesome artwork.

What can happen when someone other than God colors pieces of your picture? Well lets consider Anakin, someone who quit trusting in the light side of the force and started trusting in something and someone else. This was not something that happened “over night” but rather something that took a period of years. It was 13 years to be exact, before the Palpatine influenced picture was completed when Anakin became Darth Vader. The process was gradual, Palpatine was building a foundation (coloring in Anakin’s picture). Sometimes Palpatine had complete control, other times he would encourage Anakin to put down one crayon and pick up another. Like when he convinced Anakin to kill Count Dooku or told Anakin that his killing of the Sand People in Episode II was justified.

While there were times when Anakin noticed that something was not right, like when he told Padame in Episode III, “Something is happening. I’m not the Jedi I should be. I want more. But I know shouldn’t.” Palpatine was continuing to gain control because of the foundation he had spent years building, Anakin was becoming less like himself more like the future Darth Vader. Try as Obi-Wan and Padame did to show Anakin that this was not okay, he still put down his blue crayon and picked up a red one. Coloring all over his life’s picture with Palpatine ready to supply Anakin with another red crayon, whenever one would run out. And his life became something that, especially after he met Luke, he started to like less and less, probably wishing there was more blue than red.

This thing called life is not our fight to win. We are here to bring God glory, which He richly rewards. But that can’t happen if we allow anyone, other than God, to write our stories. So take that box of crayons out of the hands of human desires and ways of the world, and give it to God. And I promise you something beautiful will be created. It will be legen….wait for it (because God encourages patience)…dary. It will be legendary.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” -Proverbs 3:5-6

Advertisements

Significant Calling

While Anakin Skywalker is not the “poster child” for good decision making, he does give us plenty of mistakes from which we can learn. As has been discussed he was impatient and prideful, yet talented beyond measure, and blessed with an incredible gift with which he was to benefit many, many people. But he stumbled and as we know he fell from grace. The one pulling Anakin’s strings and encouraging his slow fade into the dark side of the force was Palpatine who was to become the evil Emperor. There are many things that were said to Anakin during the time that he was working on him but a few statements rise up above the rest. During the conversation in Episode III when Anakin discovers who Palpatine really is, he tells Anakin that he feels like he has always been looking for a life of significance outside of being an ordinary Jedi. Two things bother me about that statement, both of which of course are a part of Palpatine’s lies.

First, think of all the people that inhabit the Star Wars galaxy, billions and billions. How many of those people at one time are Jedi? Maybe a couple thousand at the most. Jedi Knights are not a common thing, it is a very rare talent to have, so that alone is significant just by itself.

Second, Anakin was not called to be just an ordinary Jedi, he was to be one of the most important Jedi ever. That seems awfully significant. But Palpatine played down this calling and his duty as a Jedi, wanting to deliver the promise of greater power and recognition else where, something that would bring respect and “show up” those who Anakin thought where out to devalue him.

The enemy often engages in this same kind of tactic, down playing a good work that you are called to do or the career that you are meant to have, especially if God is to receive all the glory from your actions. Proverbs 21:21 says, “He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” The best way to receive the abundance of blessings that God has in store for our lives is to stay on track with His will, His perfect will. We may have to wait longer than we may think is necessary, but trusting in God’s timing is key.

A few days ago there was news of a shooting in California, the young man who was responsible for this crime was bitter and disgruntled with life. He felt that he was not getting enough recognition or attention, especially from girls, his plan was to prove to those around him just how much power he really had and what he was capable of; therefore hoping to gain…something. Much like Anakin he was impatient, much like Anakin he had lost faith in those around him and just like Anakin he lost everything. Sadly however, this young man died as his Darth Vader. God only knows what sort of Kingdom potential was within him, yet he was talked into tearing it all down in the pursuit of fruitless gains and he even more sadly, took some innocent people with him.

Anakin found himself in a similar position, he tore down everything that he was called to be and took a great deal of people down with him. He lost everything; his wife, his children, his friends, his hope, and his passion. Well he almost lost everything, his calling stayed with him. His calling that was so good and so significant, that it managed to stay alive within what little was left of Anakin Skywalker after he turned into Darth Vader. Anakin was reminded of who he was meant be and gained more in that one revelation than in all his years as Darth Vader. Luke had faith in his father’s goodness (the goodness that both him and Padame knew was still there), more importantly he had faith in the source from which that goodness came from and it brought Anakin back.

The calling that God has in store for your life whether big or small is significant, more than you may ever know. God will reveal His plans in His time, have faith and trust Him. There is nothing that can be gained from following the urgings of the enemy, don’t allow him to minimize God’s plans. Have faith the goodness that flows through you, for it comes from a source that never fails. 

True Friendship

There is one thing that always bothers me every time we watch Star Wars, having to hear the Emperor call Anakin, “friend”. I have seen those movies many times and not once did I see him do anything that was “friend-like” toward Anakin. He convinced Anakin to mistrust to Jedi, storm the Jedi temple, think he could achieve some great power by following the Dark Side but never anything that showed true friendship. All of the Emperor’s actions were for selfish reasons, not caring what these acts would do to Anakin or the people around him. Yet Anakin was called “friend” by this guy not once, not twice, but three times.

When the Emperor was still Chancellor Palpatine he spent years being “buddy-buddy” with Anakin, earning his trust and getting him to agree with his ideas. The enemy can work in the same way, moving in too close trying to make us think that his ways and his thoughts are the ones we should listen to. The enemy may make you feel like he is on your side-just as Palpatine did with Anakin. Do not be fooled he is not your friend and never will be, just how Palpatine was never Anakin’s friend, he was barely even Darth Vader’s friend.

In Proverbs 22:24-25 it says, “Do not make friends with a hot tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” Sounds like the situation Anakin found himself in does it, I mean what kind friend would pull someone through the muck that Anakin was pulled through. All of that was for Palpatine, to bring him glory, to bring him power. Once Anakin had outlived his usefulness, Palpatine was going to have his next guy kill him, which he was hoping would be Luke. By listening to the words of his so called friend, Anakin ended up fighting his true friend and probably the best friend he ever had.

Obi-Wan had been patient with him, he cared about Anakin enough to tell him the things that he needed to hear, rather than feeding his foolishness by telling him the things he wanted to hear. Obi-Wan was a true friend that turned into Darth Vader’s enemy. You can see it in Obi Wan’s eyes and hear it in the tone of his voice when he speaks about Anakin in Episode IV, just how much he still misses him. It is important to be mindful who you allow into your circle of friends, because it is true what it says in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be misled, bad company corrupts good character.”

It can be easy to be enticed by the words of the enemy but we all have the authority given to us by Jesus to but the enemy back in his place. Never be afraid to tell him he no longer has the right (in fact he never had the right) to rule over your heart or keep your true self in the background. Do not be afraid to speak God’s truth over the situation, the enemy doesn’t need an explanation he just needs to know that he is not welcome. After all in the end did Anakin give the Emperor any explanation? So do not associate with those who anger easily for bad company corrupts good character and be mindful of your friends.

Remember, there is one that you can go to any time for anything and He, truly is the best friend you’ll ever have.

The Wisdom of Being Humble

Pride: a sense of one’s own proper dignity or value, self respect; arrogant or disdainful conduct, haughtiness, an excessively high opinion of ones self. Hmm..sounds a little bit like someone we know doesn’t it? Anakin was very prideful, he felt that his abilities should give him special privileges or help him rise to the top faster than other Jedi. It is easy forget that Anakin was in his early twenties when he turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader. People in their twenties are usually very sure of themselves, yet they still have much to learn and, they need guidance. Anakin received way too much guidance from the wrong source, which of course led to his undoing.

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Pride can make one believe that they can handle any problem themselves, with out God’s help or guidance, or the help of those wiser than them. Pride can make one think that their timing or way is better. Anakin was led to believe that the Jedi did not value his skills and that they were not giving him enough respect. The Jedi (well mainly Obi-Wan) begged him to be patient, in fact in his final conversation with Obi-Wan before turning into Darth Vader, Obi-Wan ensured Anakin that it would not be long before the council made him a Jedi Master he just needed to be…patient. But his pride ate away at that patience, he was lured into a power that was easier and faster, yet came at a heavy cost.

As believers it is important for us to trust in God’s timing, He knows each person better than they know themselves. Trouble sometimes comes when He asks that we lay aside our own understanding and follow His. In James 4:10 it says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” God, out of love, makes sure that one is ready for the path He has laid out for them before they begin to walk on it. If they act too soon, based on their own timing, the enemy could take it away.

Anakin was not ready for the responsibility and the burden of being on council or being a Jedi Master, but he was too prideful to wait and it was taken from him. Pride but a twenty year hold on Anakin fulfilling his calling and one can be certain that it would not taken him that long, had he stayed with the light side of the Force. Trust in Him, His ways are always better, His timing is always better.

Walk in the spirit of humility, for it is not weakness but a great strength.

Trusting God and Guarding Your Heart

Has anyone ever asked you what your favorite bible verse is? For the longest time my favorite bible verse was Proverbs 3:5-6, because it was the first verse I ever highlighted in a Bible.

When I was growing up in the Lutheran Church I never saw anyone write ANYTHING in a Bible. Maybe it was because everyone was using pew Bibles? When I was in the 8th grade we started going to a Baptist church, where everyone seemed to bring their own Bibles and most of them were not in perfect condition. I saw underlining, circling and highlighting in them; Bibles full of different bookmarks and little tabs on the sides. Of course this was a big shock to me, I was under the impression that writing in Bibles was wrong. One day I decided to try highlighting a verse because it didn’t seem to hurt these people or their Bibles, so it can’t be too bad. So I got my light blue Precious Moments bible, a highlighter and shut my bedroom door. That way just in case it was bad, no one would see. So with a heavy heart gripped with fear, I grabbed my Bible, closed my eyes opened to a random page and pointed. I opened my eyes to see which verse it was that was about to be highlighted and it was Proverbs 3:5-6, a verse all about trusting God. I smiled, with the fear gone and a now lightened heart, I highlighted that verse with confidence. Trust God, trust Him with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding but His. Finding that straight path became the lesson for my teens and early twenties, and I do trust Him.

Twelve years later at the age of 25, God introduced a new lesson and new verse to be highlighted. This lesson was revealed to me not at church or while reading the Bible. It wasn’t while watching a movie based on the life of Christ but through the fateful watching a science fiction movie that has become very dear to me.

One day I decided to watch Star Wars Episode III-Revenge of the Sith with my husband and it changed my life for the better in so many ways. God took the story of Anakin Skywalker and used it to teach me about Himself and life. Proverbs 4:23 states, “Guard your heart above all else for it is the wellspring of life.” This verse is about being careful of what you allow to be absorbed into your heart. The condition of your heart determines your mood, attitude, outlook, perception, everything. It can effect who you trust, the decisions you make and the things that you say. For me Anakin Skywalker is the perfect example of why it is so important to guard your heart, to be mindful, control anger and to not bow down to fear. It starts with guarding your heart, its important, its special, its the door way to you.

Think about Anakin, he allowed the words of Palpatine, the influence of evil to enter in. It changed him, effected his perception, twisted his reality and as Obi Wan said, he turned into the very thing he had been fighting against. He went from being the guy who wanted to save everyone, to the guy who tried to force choke his wife. He became the very thing that Palpatine wanted and needed him to be. A defeated, broken, embittered shell of his true self who obeyed the orders of someone who considered Anakin Skywalker to be his greatest enemy.

This is what the enemy would love to do to all of us, pick us off one by one. The emperor was only interested in how he could use Anakin’s power for his own interests. He exploited Anakin’s weaknesses, destroyed who he really was, and took him to a place he never could have gone on his own. The enemy works in very much the same way, he doesn’t care about your needs or what his ideas could do to you or the people around you. Palpatine knew exactly who Anakin was called to be and knew the threat that he would be to the dark side. In the same way, the enemy knows when you are doing a mighty work through God. He will do anything he can to discourage you or stop you in your tracks; but it can be the calling of every Christian to be a force to be reckoned with. You can be that breath of fresh air, make the enemy nervous every time you talk to someone. You can make a difference. God’s plan for you is amazing and uniquely yours, designed specifically for you by the creator of the universe. Don’t let the enemy stand in your way. He is real and it is his mission every single day to steal, kill and destroy.

So guard your heart above else for it truly is the wellspring of life.