Sunday, September 25, 2011

No Excuses

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea - for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. (Mark 1:16-20)

As I noted last week, the Hero’s Quest is a major archetype in stories and mythologies of all types, and writing about it in the context of Hobbits reminded me of another popular modern take on the theme: Luke Skywalker. At the beginning of Star Wars, he is a just another bored kid from the back of beyond dreaming of a more exciting life anywhere but Tatooine. He wants desperately to get off of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s moisture farm and go to the Academy, where he will learn to be a fighter pilot like his friend Biggs. Day after day, nothing changes, until the fateful day that two droids drop from the sky and lead him to an old hermit named Ben Kenobi.

Old Ben listens to R2D2’s message from Princess Leia, and as he prepares to answer her summons, he issues Luke the invitation of a lifetime: come with me to Alderaan, learn to use the Force, become a Jedi like your father. It’s just the ticket Luke has been looking for, the chance to get away from this backwater planet, learn to be a kick-ass warrior, have some cool adventures, and help a good cause, too. So what does he do? He whines about how Uncle Owen needs his help, how he’s busy on the moisture farm, how he’s been neglecting his chores while hanging out with this crazy old fool, how he’ll catch hell when he gets home for all the time-wasting he’s done.  He rejects the opportunity he’s wanted for so long, and he gives no good reasons for it, only excuses.

Of course, Luke does go with Ben in the end, but only after all other options are snatched away from him. He returns home to find it in ruins and his aunt and uncle dead, killed by Imperial Stormtroopers. With nothing left to lose, he finally agrees to go with Ben to Alderaan and to learn to be a Jedi. Why does it take such drastic measures to convince him? When it comes down to it, it seems that Luke suffers from comfort zone-itis, the fear of leaving the familiar to follow a call to something greater.

God wants no excuses when he issues a call, but comfort zone-itis is a widespread disease. Why do we make so many excuses instead of saying yes right away? Why is it that it sometimes takes drastic measures to break us out of our ruts and to get us to accept Christ’s invitation to follow him? I guess it’s just human nature, maybe, but I wonder how much more fun we’d have along the journey if we responded right away and didn’t waste time on excuses?

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