The 1978 movie “Superman” was and remains today one of my favorites of all time. I remember seeing it when it originally came out in the theaters and feeling as though I was in Smallville and Metropolis through the course of young Kal-El’s development and early years as Superman. Getting to peer into Superman’s pre-Superman history added an unexpected deepening to my love of the legendary character. One of my favorite scenes in the movie was early in Superman’s emergence as a superhero. Lois Lane is departing the Daily Planet building in a helicopter, which becomes disabled and wedged on the edge of the roof. Despite her best efforts, Lois loses her grip on the copter and begins to plunge to what is sure to be her death. Except that Superman does his signature quick change in a phone booth (if you’re a young person, ask your parents what a phone booth is) and flies up to scoop up Lois and save her. As he does, he says, “Easy miss, I’ve got you.” Lois’s response is classic … “You’ve got me? Who’s got you?”
I was struck with that question not just as a result of my reading this past week, but also in reflection on the forthcoming 2017 New Year and the season in life in which we find ourselves as a family. On the one hand, I’m asking myself that question … “Who’s got you [me]?” … as I pursue my next professional steps and wait on the Lord’s voice in that, and also in recognition that in about seven or eight months our oldest child will be heading off to college. Could there be a more appropriate question to wrestle with in those situations? But I also daresay the same holds true in a variety of seasons in our lives, and I watch a number of my buddies and family members grapple with life situations where probing that question and finding the right answer can make all the difference.
My reading this week moved me into the realm of this question … I soaked in Ephesians 1-6, Philippians 1-4, Colossians 1-4, 1 Thessalonians 1-5, 2 Thessalonians 1-3, 1 Timothy 1-6, and 2 Timothy 1-4. It was in Ephesians 2:1-6 that I found the inspiration for my pondering through the question and also the source for this week’s reflection …
It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
I don’t blame Lois for being both shocked and doubtful about how in the world Superman stopped her from falling and was able to lift her up. By all accounts, she should have been dead. Let’s face it, what do you think are the odds of falling from the roof of a tall, tall building and surviving? Probably zero, huh? So Lois, in her limited understanding and with her powerless situation was taken by surprise.
“You’ve got me? Who’s got you?”
For his part, Superman had no reason to doubt his ability to save her situation. He was not from this world, he had powers from a source beyond the limitations and constraints of our physical world, understood the situation and had the ability to overcome it. In order to be saved, Lois had to acquiesce to the power Superman had, not resist, and surrender to the power he had to lift her up when she otherwise would have gone crashing to the ground.
In a way, the more pertinent question really was who had Lois? A power beyond her ability and above her circumstances. A source of strength to overcome the physical realities and perils with which she was confronted. An understanding and awareness supreme to her own.
Perhaps you and I aren’t falling, but there are many, many occasions in life when things are beyond our ability to manage on our own. As Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, often we “let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living [in a real, lasting way], tell you how to live.” Sound and feel familiar? It sure does to me. In fact, Paul validates that fact by saying, “We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it …” Now if that doesn’t resonate, I challenge whether or not we’re really digging deeply into our memories or even in our present situations. The great thing is, when we’re falling, or even if we’re in different types of “trouble” God doesn’t ignore our plights. “Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us.” He does this time and time and time again. Why? Because He’s got abilities far beyond our predicaments, He is the Creator of this world, not from it, and all the more controls everything in and about it. His powers are infinite and therefore not from or of this world, and certainly not limited by or constrained within it. He understands our situations before they become our situations and has the ability to overcome it. The topper? He does all that out of love for us.
In asking ourselves, then, “Who’s got you [me],” what we’re really asking is who are we allowing to catch us when we’re falling and who are we letting raise us back up again. Because Superman could save Lois, she was well-minded to let him. But if he was a fraud or incapable of fully saving her, she’d both be foolish and fatally wrong. The same is true of us. Anything less than the Creator and Sustainer and Savior of our universe will fall short of fully helping us through our circumstances. This includes relying on ourselves to get through them. We think we can rely on ourselves, but by definition, we get ourselves into our situations so it’s a bit sketchy to think we can get ourselves out, isn’t it. And anything short of God is just that … short. Would Lois want to be saved from her fall by someone who could almost or mostly catch her and fly her back up? That would be crazy. Frankly, so is thinking we can rely on anything less than God … a 50 percent reliable plane would not be worth boarding.
So back to our question … “Who’s got you?” My prayer this week, as we finish 2016 and enter 2017, is that you and I will answer more and more and more, “God.”
Soli Deo gloria!