Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Real life

"I don’t want to survive—I want to live!"

--Captain B. McCrea, Wall-E

Last week, I finally saw WALL-E. And I found it as wonderful as the critics acclaim, an enchanting and gentle film with a really good story that is full of great moments—and one of my favorites was the one above.

The Captain—along with most others who come into near proximity to WALL-E throughout the film—has been nudged out of the stupor of the mundane existence into which he’s sunk and in a wonderful dawning of awareness declares that he’s no longer satisfied with literally floating through his days but instead wants to embrace life: He wants to really live.

I love that moment because most of us come upon moments like that in our own lives. Those moments can come when things are good, yet we’re bothered by a sense that something’s missing—that’s there’s something more than a good job, security, having fun or even great relationships. And those moments can also come when things aren’t so good, when we are tired of feeling like our circumstances control our emotions and destiny.

And just as the Captain’s moment doesn’t happen out of the blue, our own moments are also nurtured to some extent. After encountering EVE and WALL-E, the Captain started mulling over information and photographs of Earth, which invites him to see how much more life could be. One of the more significant moments in my life came as I was chewing over Scripture and encountering the lives of some folks around me who seemed to be consistently content and at peace no matter what life brought their way. In the wake of those things, I decided that if God was who he said, then living life with the kind of joy and contentment Scripture described was not just a pipe dream but doable. So, I set about to take hold of that life so I could really live.

Of course, it’s not as easy as that one decision. Boy howdy. And a quest like that comes with plenty you don’t expect. You discover it’s less others or circumstance that influence you as much as your own choices and habits. And in a quest like this, you discover plenty of not-so-pretty things about yourself.

And somewhere along the way, you discover that peace, joy, contentment and really living aren’t actually goals in themselves but simply by-products—fruits, if you will—of something else.

Over the years, I discovered that peace, joy and really living come from trusting and walking with God. And that, too, has its challenges. It’s a lot of unlearning and new learning (and relearning). But as I’ve started to settle and nestle in God, the joy and peace have started to become more consistent. And so have other things—like love, especially in my awareness of being loved with such a Love that it can’t help but express itself in compassion and affection for others.

And somewhere along the way, I realized there is no “arriving” on this journey because it’s all about walking with God on the Way there. I really appreciate Paul’s description of his own life:

I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back. (Message)
I must admit, there are far too many times when I feel more like the Captain lumbering about on his own two legs after a lifetime of lounging around than the runner in Paul’s race. But there are also more times than I can count that are filled with wonder, breathless joy and gratitude.

It’s a good life. It’s real life. And I can’t imagine turning back.

(Images: Walt Disney Pictures)

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