I was re-watching Star Wars, Episode V, “The Empire Strikes Back”, the other day. There is this great scene in the movie that always gets to me… always gets me thinking about my faith. (Yes, my faith.) I believe it provides amazing insight into our lives as Christ-followers. In fact, this scene depicts a central theme threaded throughout the bible. And I believe the message of this scene holds the key to our successfully living out the stories God has for us here on earth.
(I know… Starwars is a stretch as an allegory for Christianity… but just go with me on this for a second and I think you’ll see why I think this scene is so powerful…)
Allow me to set up the scene for you. Luke (the Jedi apprentice) has landed on the mysterious planet, Dagobah, a planet full of life and vegetation and swamps. It is here we find Luke, shrouded in fog, studying the ways of “The Force”, when suddenly Luke’s concentration is broken as R2D2 beeps wildly to alert him of a problem. Rushing to the water’s edge of a large swamp in which Luke earlier landed his starship, he watches helplessly as his X-wing fighter begins to slowly sink beneath the surface.
LUKE: Oh, no. We’ll never get it out now.
[Yoda stamps his foot in irritation.]
YODA: So certain are you. Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?
[Luke looks uncertainly out at the ship.]
LUKE: Master, moving stones around is one thing. This is totally different.
YODA: No! No different! Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.
LUKE: (focusing, quietly) All right, I’ll give it a try.
YODA: No! Try not. Do! Or do not! There is no try.
[Luke closes his eyes and concentrates on thinking the ship out. Slowly, the X-wing’s nose begins to rise above the water. It hovers for a moment and then slides back into the water, disappearing once again.]
LUKE: (panting heavily) I can’t. It’s too big.
YODA: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hm? Mmmm.
[Luke shakes his head.]
YODA: And well you should not. For my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. . . . Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we… (Yoda pinches Luke’s shoulder) … not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you. Here, between you… me… the tree… the rock… everywhere! Yes, even between this land and that ship!
LUKE: (discouraged) You want the impossible.
[Quietly Yoda turns toward the X-wing fighter. With his eyes closed and his head bowed, he raises his arm and points at the ship. Soon, the fighter rises above the water and moves forward as R2D2 beeps in excitement and scoots out of the way. The entire X-wing moves majestically, surely, toward the shore. Yoda stands on a tree root and guides the fighter carefully down toward the beach.]
[Luke stares in astonishment as the fighter settles down onto the shore. He walks toward Yoda…]
LUKE: I don’t… I don’t believe it.
YODA: That is why you fail.
You can watch the entire clip here on YouTube: http://youtu.be/q3hn6fFTxeo
There is a theme that stands out in this movie scene. That same theme is threaded throughout humankind’s existence. And, that theme is woven into our very own personal stories as well, woven into our lives spiritually. The theme is this — We must believe who we are and who God is.
Can you see this theme in the Star Wars scene? Can you see it being played out in the lives of those around you? In your own life? Luke was a lost boy who wanted something more out of life. But, he was stuck. He couldn’t believe past his everyday “reality”, only what he saw and felt was true. He lived in the completely “tangible”. Yoda tried to call it out of him… tried to remind him of what was true… tried to get Luke to believe in who he was created to be and in the power of the power greater than himself.
This is not a new storyline … From the very beginning of time God has come looking for us, desiring to walk with us, to just hang out with us (Gen 2) to show us (and remind us) of what is true of us and true of Himself. He has a story for us, a role for us to play, a greater role than we can imagine, but He knows we too often fail. Not a “Failure” of accomplishment, but a failure to believe.
Gideon sees himself as nothing, insignificant at best, but God calls Gideon a “Valiant Warrior” (Judges 6:12). David is the runt of his family, unchosen, untried, unknown, and yet God chooses him, calls him “a man after God’s own heart.” (1 Sam 16:6-13) The Apostle Peter takes Jesus at his word and walks on the water, and he begins to let his circumstances sway that simple belief and down he goes (Matthew 14:28-30). Jesus over and over again called us to remember who we are, we “are children of God”, we are “heirs”, we are His “friends”, we are “chosen”, It goes on and on. (1 Jn 3:1, Rom 8:17, John 15:15, 1 Pet 2:9). And the story from the Star Wars clip could have been pulled straight from the bible — “You have not, because you ask not.”(James 4:2) “Your battle is not with flesh and blood but with that which is unseen.“ (Eph 6:12) And “ask, believing without doubting.” (James 1:5-7) “Ask, seek, knock.” (Matt 7:7-8) “Your Father wants to give you good gifts… just believe!” (Matt 7:11)
I know… you’ve heard all this before. And who knows why before today you’ve dismissed it, maybe it was more than you could process, or you bypassed His personal invitation as a generic, common truth. But, don’t dismiss it again… We must believe (and act upon) who we are and who God is. Our life’s success depends on it!
So, let’s go back and read the lines from the script again, but this time let’s put ourselves in Luke’s role and replace the fictional “Force” with the real person of God.
Self: This problem I’m facing it too big. I don’t have the answers for how to fix it. I can’t see how it will ever work out. It is impossible…
Jesus: So certain are you. Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?
Self: This is different, Jesus! This isn’t just some little prayer like “please help Jane find her lost puppy.”
Jesus: No! No different! Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.
Self: Alright… I’ll give it a try.
Jesus: No! Try not. Do! Or do not! There is no try. (“Try” is a faithless proposition. It is a hopeless mindset. It clings to the past, to what is known. It doesn’t believe in what could be, in what is really true from God’s perspective.)
[After a feeble 30-second prayer…]
Self: I can’t. It’s too big.
Jesus: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hm? Mmmm.
… And well you should not. For my ally is the Father. And a powerful ally he is. . . . Life, He creates, makes all grow. His Spirit surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings you are, created in His image… and not this crude matter (Jesus pinches your shoulder). You must know He is around you. Here, between you… me… the tree… the rock… everywhere! Yes, even between you and this problem of yours.
Self: (discouraged) You want the impossible.
[Quietly Jesus turns toward us and with his eyes closed and his head bowed he raises his hands to heaven and asks for the Father’s help on our behalf. And God moves in response.]
[And we stand in astonishment as the problem, that once seemed insurmountable, works out before our very eyes.]
Self: I don’t… I don’t believe it.
Jesus: “Oh you of little faith“… That is why you fail.
Belief in what IS true… that is what we lack. But, don’t be discouraged… this lack of belief is also one of the most changeable aspects of our lives as Christ followers. It requires no accomplishment, no striving, no formal education, no cost, no rules. God has provided more than enough evidence for a basis to believe, for faith. The change lies in the choice. We can choose to believe in only what we see and feel and touch… or we can believe and act upon what He’s been telling us throughout history… throughout our lives.
We will find true life when we believe and live our lives anchored in who we are and who God is.
NEXT TIME we’ll talk more about how to begin to act upon our new choices… there is now A Most Powerful Question that needs to be asked. Next time.
Questions for thought:
Can you think of a time when you thought things would not, could not, work out? What happened? Did somehow, even mysteriously, God come through?
What messages have you learned that you must “unlearn”?
Where have you said “I’ll try” where you need to go back and “Do… or do not!”