So I don’t know anything about this movie, but the teaser trailer has me totally captivated. Have you seen this?
I feel like this so perfectly encapsulates life… Here’s this kid with all these dreams and ideas. He works hard, waits, and here it comes – finally – his dream, his creation brought to life. The creature LIVES!
The creature isn’t quite what he imagined. The cute blimpy guy isn’t quite the repulsive outcome that Dr. Frankenstein encountered, but it’s a far cry from his ideal, nonetheless.
A look at the creature…a look back at the screen – did I do something wrong? No… A look back at the creature…maybe I didn’t see him clearly the first time…uh…yeah…still not what I thought…back to the screen, yep – clearly not the same. Huh. I designed it. I placed the order. I did everything right… and yet – the outcome, this thing that just walked in the door…it’s not what I expected, asked for, ordered…
Isn’t this life? How many times have I found myself doing the same thing—glancing back over what I did and how I got here, then looking at what’s in front of me and thinking, I did everything right – how did I end up here? It’s not just me—I hear other people saying the same kinds of things all the time. I ate healthy, exercised, used sunscreen religiously, etc…how do I have cancer? I was a good provider, was tender with my wife, did everything I could do to be a good husband, how could she just leave me? I followed Jesus, I obeyed all the rules, I went to church and read my Bible and I didn’t sleep around…and I’m still single while everyone else found their prince charming.
What happens when prince charming does show up, but isn’t quite as charming as you expected? What happens when your dream finally comes true but isn’t everything you thought? What happens when you work hard towards a specific purpose, but the results just aren’t quite what you hoped?
I love that, in this preview the results may be disappointing, but they aren’t depressing. The blimp isn’t quite the warrior ninja he had in mind…but it’s not hideous. It’s hilarious. It’s loveable, even in its shortcomings.
What does the boy do? He is not deterred. He begins to put the blimpy creature into the warrior suit. You. Must. Fit. Into. My. Ideal. (Ok, I’ve done this too. And I’m so sorry for those people I’ve done it to, forcing them to fit into my mold, my ideal, rather than letting them be who they were created to be.)
It works…for a minute. For just a minute the boy is elated—he got his warrior ninja after all! And then, boom! It all falls apart in nothing short of a mild explosion. Why? Because reality couldn’t be shoved into a mold.
I can’t wait to see the movie. What happens next? I have no doubt that somehow reality turns out to be not such a bad thing after all. Maybe it will give us viewers some wisdom as to how to respond when reality falls short of our dreams.
I don’t want to live disappointed and I don’t want to force others around me to fit into my preconceived ideas. I want to live with a sense of joy and wonder and delight at what’s in front of me. I want to find joy in discovering who people are and for them to feel a freedom to be themselves in my presence. But, if I’m honest, this is sometimes easier said than done.
The Bible is full of people who were met with disappointing realities. Perhaps most famously the Israelites left Egypt to go to the Promised Land, but ended up taking the “scenic” route –in other words, they went the roundabout way which was longer and through a wilderness. They were so disappointed and complained and grumbled so much that the Lord ended up putting them in “time out” in the wilderness for forty years so that they could work on their attitude. A ten day trip took forty years, because of their bad attitudes.
What they didn’t want to hear was that they were taking the long way around because God was being kind to them. The direct route would have taken them across some enemies and they weren’t ready to fight that fight, so he took them the easy way around. Their disappointment partly stemmed from a lack of faith in God’s loving kindness. Sure, they were disappointed that the journey was taking longer than expected, but they were also disappointed because they assumed God had failed them, let them down. “Did you bring us out here to die?” they asked. If they had trusted in the goodness of God, they would have been looking for how the detour was proof of his love. They would have wondered what good things God had for them in the wilderness.
Another story of disappointment is when Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus, died. They knew that if Jesus had been there sooner (before he died) Jesus could have saved him. But Jesus didn’t get there in time. They were disappointed. Understandably. But God is love and His love is always working itself out on our behalves. Jesus could have gotten there in time, but he chose to delay. It seems cruel, disappointing. Read the text though. He says it was a good thing that he wasn’t there before Lazarus died. There was a purpose to his delay, disappointing though it may have been. He wanted them to believe. Believe in what? In his power—and not jus his power to heal, they knew about that power. He wanted them to know he had the power over life and death. He didn’t want to heal Lazarus from illness, he had done that before. He wanted to raise Lazarus from the dead…they hadn’t seen that before. And they were going to need that confidence because Jesus was about to die (and then rise again). He was preparing them for what was to come. He was giving them a gift, something they were going to need in the future. He was showing them who He was and what powers He had.
The reality is that, when disappointments come (and they will), we have a choice. We can be disappointed. We can accuse God. We can grumble and complain. OR, we can trust in the love and goodness of God and assume that somehow it is working itself out on our behalf even in our disappointment. Scripture gives a lot of precedence for the idea that, in the midst of disappointment, God plans to give us a gift. So we can be disappointed, or we can be expectant—we can start looking around for the gift, knowing God has a plan for and something to give us in every wilderness and every delay. Oh what good news is Jesus!