Barry Allen and Moving Forward

I have mentioned before on here how much I’m a fan of the comic book character “The Flash”.  I feel like in a lot of ways I can relate to Barry Allen.  So of course I was excited to see the return of the series.  And along with the return gives a lot of entertainment as well as a lot to think about and ponder.

At the end of last season, Barry went back in time to try and fix a problem.  That problem was one that had defined him.  That problem was the death of Barry’s mother by Reverse Flash.  Barry goes back and stops Reverse Flash and prevents the death of his mother.  The season premiere of this season showed the effects of this “Flashpoint” which changed the timeline of what happened not only for Barry but for everyone else.  When things began to spiral out of control, Barry goes back and allows Reverse Flash to kill his mother.

Last night’s episode showed the effects of what happened when Barry “fixed” the timeline.  Relationships were damaged between family and friends.  New enemies began to appear in Central City.  So Barry decides to go back again and try and fix it.  However before he got too far, he was stopped by Jay Garrick (Earth 2 Flash), who knocked him out of the Speed Force and into 1998 (which wasn’t a bad year to be honest).

barry-and-jay

Jay and Barry then sit in a diner and have a conversation.  During that conversation, Jay tries to share with Barry about how trying to “fix” the timeline doesn’t work.  He uses the example of a coffee cup and how it can be broken.  Once it’s broken, even if you try and put it back together again, it still has the cracks and isn’t the cup it once was.  The same for the timeline.  The more one goes back to try and “fix” things, the more it breaks.  Jay then tells Barry that he has to accept what has happened and move forward.

I know for myself that there are those certain moments in my life that I wish I could go back and change or “fix”.  Painful times that I wish didn’t happen or good things that I wish had lasted.  But I cannot go back in time and change things.  All I can do is move forward.  That’s all that all of us can do.  We have to persevere and move forward.  We have to trust God that what hurt and pains that we’ve experienced are not the be all end all of our lives.  That we are not defined by those moments only.  But that we are defined by Him.

It is not easy to move forward sometimes, even for a speedster like Barry Allen.  But it is possible.  It is a daily struggle but it is possible.

Sunday Devotional: Isaiah 53:6-12

“All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:6-12)

These verses are a part of the chapter in the book of Isaiah known as the “Suffering Servant” chapter.  It is a prophesy by Isaiah about the coming messiah who would suffer and die for the people.  That coming messiah was Jesus.  He was the lamb that was led to slaughter.  He went willingly to die for our sins.  He had done no wrong but yet he suffered and died.  He bore our sins and paid the price for them so that we don’t have to do so.

These verses are a reminder that no matter where we are or what we’re going through, Jesus understand and knows.  He knows what it’s like to be rejected.  He knows what it’s like to be hurt by those who are strangers and those who are friends.  He knows what it’s like to be alone.  He loves us so much and wants us to know that we’re not alone and that He went through all He went through for us.

This week, let us trust in that.  Let us hope in that.  Let us share that with others.  Jesus suffered and died for us.  He also was resurrected so that we can have hope and new life.  He was a “man of sorrows” but he brings joy.

Vengeance and Luke Cage

Like most everyone this past weekend or so, I started watching the Marvel Netflix series Luke Cage.  And while I haven’t binge watched it all the way through like some (I’m still a couple of episodes from finishing), I have watched a good amount of episodes since its release.  (FYI, there maybe minor spoilers but nothing major ahead)

luke-cage

And while there are a lot of things to think through with this series, there is one that my mind keeps going back to.  This is due in large part to one character in the series.  That character is one of the major villains of the series by the name of Willis Stryker aka Diamondback.  Many times throughout the episodes that Stryker is on screen he is either quoting Scripture or he’s holding a Bible in his hand.

The backstory of both Stryker and Luke Cage are linked due to the fact of both of them having the same father.  That father also happened to be a preacher who had an affair with his secretary which led to the birth of Stryker.  Stryker resented Luke and the “sins of the father” would later come to terrorize both Luke and the people of Harlem.

Stryker is unfortunately a reminder that you cannot separate the story of the Old Testament with the New Testament.  Much of what Stryker quotes is Old Testament.  He seems to live by the code of ‘eye for an eye’ or even more so a perverted sense of justice.  He hasn’t really known much about the New Testament and grace.  I would imagine the Bible that he carries around Him doesn’t get opened much around the Gospels.

To translate it from the small screen to real life, I think a lot of us live with the sense of wanting vengeance.  When we are wronged, we want justice.  It is that reminder that deep down there is a true moral right and standard.  However, because we all have a sinful nature, it tends to skew it sometimes away from justice and more towards vengeance.  The Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 12:19 “never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine I will repay,’ says the Lord.”  God is the only one who can rightly judge in the end.  We are to called to forgive, even when we have been deeply wronged.

One of the hardest things in the world to do is forgive.  We see that in stories in TV shows like Luke Cage and in books and movies.  We see it in real life.  When we’re wronged, the default in being hurt is to rage and want revenge.  But like for Willis Stryker, it consumes you and you lose out on all the good that you can be.  Watching this series has reminded me of how much grace and forgiveness is needed in this world today.

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 119:9-16

“How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
 With my whole heart I seek you;
    let me not wander from your commandments!
 I have stored up your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
 Blessed are you, O Lord;
    teach me your statutes!
 With my lips I declare
    all the rules of your mouth.
 In the way of your testimonies I delight
    as much as in all riches.
 I will meditate on your precepts
    and fix my eyes on your ways.
 I will delight in your statutes;
    I will not forget your word.” (Psalm 119:9-16)

These are words written by David in part of what is known as the longest chapter in the Bible.  David knew the importance of knowing God’s word (at that time the Torah) and keeping it close to his heart and mind.  The way to follow God and be faithful was to keep his teachings close by and “stored up” in one’s heart.

Today we have both the Old Testament and New Testament.  Both teach us of God’s faithfulness throughout the ages as well as His love for us.  He wants us to “store up” His word in our hearts so that we “might not sin” against Him.  Through the Holy Spirit, we are able to study and hear for God as we read the Bible.  That should give us great joy.

This week, as we are in our personal study times of the Bible, let us delight in His statues.  Let us not forget His word.  Let us fix our eyes on His ways.  And let us share this good news to a world that is in desperate need of good news.