It’s very rare that a movie gives me pause for thought, but those that do usually keep me thinking for some time. That is what happened last night as we settled in to watch a library-borrowed copy of The Bicentennial Man. The film, starring Robin Williams, starts off as a whimsical story of the adjustments of one family to their android helper “Andrew.” However, it takes a dramatic turn into realm of the metaphysical when Andrew begins his quest become human. The interesting point of the movie is that the immortal, self-maintaining Andrew does what most would seem to think ridiculous. He decides to make himself mortal in order to truly share in the human existence and embrace those that he has not only served, but come to love.
Of course, the Christian parallels are obvious. Christ himself shed his omnipotence in order to die in the the place of those that he loved, but I was moved to think from the other perspective. My humanness of late has been real drag. Since we’ve made it back from Mexico City, I have been struggling with a sinus infection, my personal nemesis. I have tried to take care of my work responsibilities, my correspondence, and keep up with my kids, only to see my energies wear out long before my list of to-dos. The aching head and stuffy nose seem like anchors against which I have to struggle an inch at a time. There have been many times when I wished that I could trade in my faulty pieces for robotic upgrades.
Still though, it is funny how God chooses to use our imperfection, our humanness, to work our his purposes through us. I was at the Salvador Alvarado stadium, watching our kids in the track program, when I struck up a conversation with an externally happy but definitely hurting parent. Our conversation started with the everyday, but moved quickly to his disintegrating marriage. He told me that he was hanging on only for the sake of his kids. Reflecting back to the pain that I felt in the midst of the divorce of my parents and the way that God has helped me to recover and rebuild my life helped me to offer him help in finding a way forward through his pain. God used my dysfunctional past, my human experience, in order to minister in this man’s present situation.
How often are we touched by the testimony of determination through pain, triumph over adversity, or recovery against all odds? I am personally encouraged as I watch the progress of Joel and Amy Maxwell, friends who through the grace of God has been overcoming what many would say impossible odds. Parents of two, they are renewing their lives after their humanness led them through business failure and personal debt to Officer’s Basic Training, military deployment and renewed purpose.
The power is not in our perfection, nor in the facade that we might choose to display. It is in the intersection of our imperfection, our weak human condition, our story, and God’s amazing grace that power is displayed to those around us. Like Paul says in 2 Cor. 4:7: we have this “treasure in jars of clay.” We show the reality of God’s power through his redemption of our brokenness, and, as we continue to allow him to work in our lives, he takes our brokenness and makes into something beautiful.
I don’t know how this sinus infection is fitting into God’s plan just yet, but I am certainly glad for the chance to reflect with thankfulness on God’s intervention in my humanness. I guess I’ll delay that order for those artificial lymph nodes.
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