When God allows you to grapple…

School lunch tables, brown and worn, sat empty as the sunlight beamed into the elongated building beaten and worn by season after season of north-eastern weather in the wilderness.  The air was still from the outside, as the only discernible movement of molecules came from the half-dozen or more fans turning overhead.  Alone, the area felt like a ghost-town.

It hadn’t always been that way.  Earlier the room was teeming with teenage kids and support staff for a youth retreat taking place, but the locale had quickly evacuated like colored leaves soaring on a gentle wind, bound for where the eastern water meets the the sand just a mile or so away (or somewhere else in the ‘verse).  Only the ghost-town remained.  It was within the confines of this ghost-town that I sat…and grappled.

Earlier this year I’d been asked by an old friend from my Cedarville University days to come speak to his youth group for a annual weekend retreat they have in Deleware.  Astounded, but excited for the opportunity, I started working on the material almost right away, as three sessions of material is of greater difficulty than the single sessions I am used to.  As I dove headfirst into crafting material based around various life lessons and experiences – distilled into focus areas of story, destiny, and superpowers – I was totally unawares that events which would exert the greatest influence on what I might do or say were still ahead of me.

Two weeks (and some change) before the retreat, the accident happened.  As I processed that event I realized it needed to be part of what I would say to the students, so I worked it into the material along with Star Wars, Luke Skywalker, and the  Death Star trench run to try and help a group of students understand that Christ has victory in – and over – even the darker realities that touch our lives and that His purposes persevere.

It was someone’s darker reality that had me sitting alone in that dining hall; a reality that did not match my own – a reality that in fact was the opposite – the mirror universe version of my experience.   What was I to do later that night if called out like the Fremen wanted Stilgar to call out Paul Atreides in Dune (and rightfully so)?  How do you square these divergent experiences?

As I grappled and wrestled with how to do this, an answer came.  It was an answer I didn’t like because it meant I would need to venture back into a valley I didn’t want to retread and share the story of the auto accident that my college roommate was involved in last year; an auto accident that killed his young son.  As I wrestled back and forth the it became pretty clear that this was the path I was supposed to walk, the story I needed to tell; as worthwhile stories ALWAYS do they take us places we don’t want to go and I wanted to throw this story across the room like Bastion reading The Neverending Story in the school attic.

In the end, I told the stories of both accidents and put forth that death was not part of the intended order at creation and is not “a natural part of life” but, rather, the result of sin (specifically, the selfishness of a drunk driver in my roomate’s case).  Moreover – as finite human beings that live in an open universe – things happen that are beyond both our control and understanding but not His.  In these times one need be dependent on the Master of the Universe, but it is always easier spoken than modeled.

I didn’t enjoy venturing back to that place, but just as Spock told Kirk that “Only Nixon could go to China” and only Spock could save the Enterprise from Kahn’s wrath, I was best suited to speak to this in that time and place.  I came, I saw, I grappled, and I didn’t lose…because I was obedient.

What do you need to grapple with?


Posted on by Aaron in Star Trek, Star Wars, Uncategorized

About Aaron

Author, Speaker, and Super Nerd. Aaron Welty speaks and writes regularly connecting the dots of life, faith, and science fiction. Originally from Michigan, he now lives and works in the Washington, D.C. Metro area.

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