Our true destiny is to belong to a family as sons or daughters, not to strive and perform in desperate hope of being noticed like an orphan.
As a son, I know I can do things to disappoint my parents, but I don’t believe that I can do anything to stop being a son.
My favorite STAR WARS character has always been Luke Skywalker. He plays the original hero of the STAR WARS sci-fi saga that has spanned 43 years since 1977. When we first met this fresh-faced kid, he is listless and pining away. Forced to be a robot mechanic for farming, his life is isolated and without purpose. Luke knows that he was born for a larger purpose and destiny. He dreams of being like his father, fighting the evil empire as a rebel alliance pilot.
If you have seen the movies, we watch Luke grow up and begin walking in the destiny of his life. Not only does he become a freedom fighter for the rebel alliance, but he rises to the level of Jedi master. We see him training others in the ways of “the force” and walking in great power and authority. As an isolated hermit, Luke has to be talked into taking Rey under his wing to train her and help her become who she was created to be. Though he was a legend in his galaxy, Luke was tormented by shame and still fell into “orphan thinking” even at the end of his life.
Luke was never able to get past the fact that his earthly father was the evil Darth Vader. Luke struggles his whole life, despite his fame and notoriety, as an orphan who doesn’t feel like he measures up. Luke’s life is surrounded by loss. His mother died when he and his sister were born, he lost his aunt and uncle who raised him. Then he lost his mentors: Obi Wan Kenobi, his adopted father/mentor and then Yoda, who became his mentor after Obi Wan Kenobi.
Do you struggle with living out of an "orphan heart"?
As Christians, we have been adopted as sons and daughters, and we are no longer orphans. Though we may read that truth in the Bible, we can slide back into our old thinking patterns and begin living out of the heart of an orphan.
Here are four aspects of what it looks like to live out of the heart of an orphan, that I talked about in last Sunday message:
- The orphan heart competes and needs to stand out
This is the idea that since you don’t feel accepted, you feel that you need to prove your worth to others. You feel threatened by others’ strengths and successes – worried that someone else will “take your place.”
- The orphan heart struggles with isolation or independence
Since you don’t feel like you have a place in the family, you have a sense of abandonment, and you try to go it alone. You withdraw from others physically or emotionally. This thinking keeps you from getting close to others, even your spouse, kids, friends.
- The orphan heart battles fear & insecurity
You can’t imagine being loved for who you are, and you are fearful that if you don’t live up to expectations you will not have relationship. You fear punishment for your shortcomings and have difficulty believing others truly forgive you and aren’t keeping track of your failures. This might mean that you feel a constant need to be reassured by leaders.
- The orphan heart is performance oriented
You feel rejected by others already, so you believe that the only way to be accepted is to perform. The jealousy you see in your heart is a tip-off to this sort of thinking. It’s easy to begin judging others for their short comings, and you constantly compare yourself to others. There is a sense of fairness that is being violated because you don’t see others being “punished” for their failures, but you feel like you are constantly being left out as a punishment for a lack of performance.
If you can relate to any of these aspects of living out of an orphan heart, here are five suggestions I made to help you start on your journey back to living out of the heart of a son or a daughter.
- Realize the need to change your heart
- Repent for all sins related to Orphan mindset
- Forgive others and yourself
- Resist temptation to fall back into orphan thinking
- Keep yourself in the love of the Father
By the end of the last Star Wars movie, Luke Skywalker confesses that he was wrong to isolate himself from the rest of the world after failing. He realizes that living out of his orphan heart didn’t protect him from more hurt, and that it actually hurt others. When he tells Rey, “I was wrong,” there is a collective sigh of relief from all of us who resonate with this admission. The galaxy would have been better and richer if Luke would have remained engaged in family.
This is true for all of us. When we remain engaged in family, we will be better able to live out our destinies in our church, our city, and our world.
No matter how many times you blow it, you are still wanted and needed by this family… not as a slave, but as a son or daughter.
This was true for the prodigal son in Luke 15. Even though the younger son dishonors his father by demanding his inheritance early and then squanders it - it is the father who sees the son walking back home while he was still a long way off. This means that the father has been constantly watching the horizon to see the familiar gate of his son. Instead of shaming him, disowning him, or even letting the shame/honor system of the day destroy him – he hikes up his robes in an undignified way and runs to his son (something no middle-aged man would ever do). The prodigal son seeks to return simply as a servant, but the father insisted that his “son” had come home.
I encourage you to keep fighting to live out of the heart of a son or daughter.
We will continue talking about our identity in Christ these next two Sundays, and this Fall I will teach a series on being “sons and daughters”.
Sunday morning service options:
- 9am: In-person OUTDOOR service on the Island. Please bring your own lawn chair.