“Superman, when he goes after someone, is essentially not trying to beat them. He is trying to save them from themselves.”- Max Landis
When I was seven years old and beginning my second year of TV viewership, my favorite program was “The Adventures of Superman”- in thrilling black and white. Superman (aka Dave, Halloween 1958), the announcer intoned, was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings at a single bound! Proving that a superhero’s work is never done, Superman tirelessly “fought a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.” To an undersized second grader who was a frequent target of school bullies, Superman represented everything that I was not.
Born on the planet Krypton, Superman was christened Kal-El (or “Swift God”) by his parents, Jor-El and Lara. In the aftermath of our ministry downsizing or vocation loss, we may attempt to summon superhuman internal strength to bring a swift end to our turmoil- or, failing that, to endure. John Ortberg (The Life You’ve Always Wanted) cautions against this action plan:
“Sometimes we adults try to be Superman. We try to look smarter or more successful or more spiritual than we really are. We try to answer questions we don’t understand. But it is a heavy burden, trying to be Superman when we’re grown up.”
We’re burdened, Pastor Ortberg adds, because we’re overwhelmed trying to be someone we were never meant to be. John refers to this as “dis-appointing” God. By assuming the role of Superman, we refuse to let God be God and appoint ourselves in His place. When God truly is our God, we are free to “just be me”. As John writes in his gospel: “If you will abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-32).”
As we come to God broken and needy, He is our healer, our comfort, and our peace. During times of feeling scattered, frail, and shattered, God is our Father, mighty warrior, and king. “This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged . . . For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’ “- 2 Chronicles 20:15