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).

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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.

Remembering Robin Williams

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Yesterday evening the news broke that Robin Williams passed away.  To say that it was a shock was an understatement.  When it first popped up on twitter, I thought it was another internet hoax as those seem to generate every couple of months.  However, when the news was confirmed, I was saddened to hear it.  Even more so, I was sad to hear that it was a suicide.

There hasn’t been a point in my life where I don’t remember Robin Williams.  Growing up in the ’80s, it was kind of the beginning of the heyday for his career.  His TV show Mork and Mindy was on syndication and Nick at Night so I watched it occasionally.  One of the first movies I saw him in was Popeye because we owned a copy on it on VideoDisc (precursor to Laserdisc & DVDs).  But two movies that came out of the late 80s that I know him best for were Good Morning Vietnam and Dead Poets Society.  I grew up on those two films, especially Good Morning Vietnam because it was on regular play on cable (so I’d get the TV edited version which I kinda enjoyed more than the theatrical version).

Of course, he’ll always be known as the voice of Genie from Aladdin.  That stretch of Disney animated films was epic and his talents being a part of that was one of the reasons why.  When you think about that movie, you have to think about him.

Like with most comedic actors, there’s some work of his I liked and some I didn’t.  I wasn’t a big fan sometimes of his standup work but he definitely had comedic timing.  He was also a very good dramatic actor as well.

I feel for his family.  To suffer a loss like this is tragic.  It is a tragedy when a life is taken like this.  To be in a place where that feels like the only option is something I would never want anyone to feel.  There is always hope.  I’m grateful for my relationship with Jesus.  Because I know, if it wasn’t for that relationship, there have been times where I might have felt the same as he did.

Every day is precious.  Every day is a blessing.  I hope that we are all reminded of this and that we live each day to the fullest and are appreciative of the blessings that God has given to each of us.

Guardians of the Galaxy and Losers

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I went and saw Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.  I went in with pretty high expectations because A) I really liked the trailers and B) Marvel Studios films have hit pretty much home runs in my book with their films.  And while I will not spoil the movie, I will say it met the expectations.  It was a home run too.

One part that stood out in the film happened while the five main characters (Peter Quill aka Star Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon and Groot) are sitting together and trying to plan how to get back the orb that holds the Infinity Stone and the group is arguing about coming up with a plan and such.  At one point, Peter looks at everyone and says “We’re a bunch of losers.”  He says this and everyone kinda looks at him funny but before they say anything he continues.  “We’ve all lost something or someone.”  He points out how each character has lost something and how that has affected them.  It becomes a sort of rallying point and they come together with a plan to stop the bad guys and save the day.

After the movie, that idea of loss stuck in my head.  I’m a loser because I have lost things.  I’ve lost people through the course of my life.  And those losses have affected me.  Loss is a given in a fallen world.  Before the Fall, there was no loss but once sin entered the world, loss came with it.  We all encounter loss.  We’re a bunch of losers.

But what’s awesome is that God understands what loss is.  Because of Jesus, he interacted and encountered loss.  We see this clearly with what happened with the death of Lazarus in John 11:1-46.  It clearly says that when Jesus finds out that Lazarus is dead that he wept.  Jesus wept.  He mourned the loss of his friend.  But the awesome thing is not only that Jesus understands loss, is that He overcomes.  The rest of that story is that Jesus brings Lazarus from the dead.  There is hope.

The Guardians of the Galaxy aren’t a bunch of well known superheroes.  They’re not your typical good guys.  They’re kinda like us.  They’ve experienced loss.  But they don’t let that define them.  Our losses should not be all that define us.  That’s what’s awesome about following Jesus.  He knows what loss is about and is able to comfort us and grieve with us when we lose but give us hope for the day when there will be no more losses.  That is something worth fighting for.

The Gwen Stacy Effect

I went and saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2 today (by the way some spoilers are going to follow but then again elements from that movie are based on a comic book storyline that’s 40 years old).  I’m actually a fan of this reboot of the Spider-Man film series.  That’s not to take anything away from the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire trilogy that was released in the early 2000s.  So when the first movie in this reboot series released back in 2012, I was cautiously optimistic.  I liked director Marc Webb’s film (500) Days of Summer.  So after seeing the first film, I enjoyed it.  I thought Andrew Garfield did a great job as Peter Parker/Spider-Man.  I really enjoyed Emma Stone’s work who played Gwen Stacy.

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Gwen Stacy as a character is a key figure in Marvel comic book universe and in the world of Spider-Man.  In the history of Spider-Man, Gwen was early on the girl that Peter was in love with.  They met in college at Empire State University and their relationship (like any relationship) had it’s ups and downs.  Being the daughter of a NYPD Captain made it difficult at times for Gwen and Peter’s relationship, especially when her dad died (during a fight between Spidey and Doctor Octopus in the comics & between Spidey and The Lizard in the movies).  But they stuck together through thick and thin.

Then came the story arc “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”.  This story, which was told over the pages of two issues of The Amazing Spider-Man comic book (#121-122) in the summer of 1973.  In the story arc, the Green Goblin (the Norman Osborn version) kidnaps Gwen & takes her to the top of the George Washington Bridge.  In the subsequent fight between the Goblin & Spidey, Gwen is thrown off the bridge by Osborn.  Peter tries to save Gwen but is unable to and she dies.  Peter blamed himself for not saving her and for a time quit being Spider-Man but would eventually take up the mantle again.

At the time these two issues were released, it was a huge moment in comics.  Gwen Stacy was Peter Parker’s girlfriend and marriage had been hinted about several times.  Her death left an indellible mark on Peter Parker.  Her death had an effect on his life but also her life.  Peter Parker would not be the man that he is nor the superhero that he is without having Gwen Stacy in it.  As much as Mary Jane Watson is known as the love of Peter’s life now, it came in the wake of Gwen Stacy.

We all have that Gwen Stacy in our lives.  Whether it’s a person or an event, there is that moment of loss that in some way shapes who we are.  It is that “Gwen Stacy Effect”.  Those moments that we point to that we see when we look back in our past.  They teach us something about ourselves.  They help us to grow and mature.  They are a part of our story.

As I walked out of the theater and saw the movie version of “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”, I thought about Peter Parker.  I thought about how it’s widely talked about how the death of Uncle Ben defined Peter’s character but it’s also the loss of Gwen that helps define Peter’s character.  Peter is a better person and a better superhero having had Gwen Stacy in his life.  Even though he lost her, we know (through the comics) that Peter would go on to find love (with Mary Jane Watson).  In our lives, we don’t know what the future holds.  But we do know that the Gwen Stacys in our lives are there for our good and in the end we are better off having them in our lives for how long or how short that time is.

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Sunday Devotional: Romans 12:15

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  Romans 12:15

In part of being in community with others, there are some who are celebrating and there are some who are mourning.  There are some who are blessed with good times and there are some who are enduring rough times.  I’m reminded of this regularly when I hear news from friends and family.

I’m reminded of one couple that I knew from seminary that are celebrating the arrival of their son whom they adopted from Ethiopia.  I rejoice for them as they have waited for a long time for the paperwork to go through to be able to bring him home.  I’m also reminded of a friend from grade school who is grieving over the loss of his wife who passed away after a long fight with cancer.  I weep for him and his family over the loss.

When we rejoice with others and when we weep with others, we are reminded that it’s not just about us.  God wants us to see beyond us to those around us, to love on those around us.  At the same time, when circumstances bring us to joy or to grief, others need to come alongside us to rejoice and weep.

This week, celebrate the victories and mourn the losses.  And remember that throughout all of it God is right there through it all.