This Christmas season, there were two countdowns. Shopping days 'til Christmas. And days 'til the new "Star Wars" movie opened.
Thirty years ago, my kids begged to get the first Star Wars action figures for Christmas. Now their kids are begging for the new movie's rolling droid, BB-8, and TIE fighter Legos. Three generations. Captivated by what has become a modern mythology for our times.
But there's more to the "Star Wars" magnet than flashing light-sabers and streaking X-wing fighters. Something intangible. Spiritual.
Random, unlikely people, banding together to stop a powerful darkness. Harnessing some unseen "force" that rewrites the odds.
In one interview, a "Star Wars" creator tried to explain that magnetic intangible. "In a word," he said, "hope."
Looking at the "Star Wars" saga through those eyes, you can, in fact, see some hints of hope. Game-changing realities for the real battles we fight in our own "galaxy."
1. There is a dark side to be conquered.
"Conquer your dark side." That was the caption on a cup I saw in a fast food kids' meal years ago. With Darth Vader looking at you.
Maybe there's a reason "Star Wars'" dark side resonates. We all know a dark side that's not from a galaxy far away. It's inside us.
Even a writer of the Bible talked about it: "I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate...there is another power within me... This power makes me a slave to sin..." (Romans 7).
I'm sick of losing to the darkness within. To the parts of me I hate. That the people I love hate. That God hates. But, as in the "Star Wars" mythology, there's hope. Real world hope.
2. There's a power to be downloaded.
No, not some mythical, mystical "force" available to an elite few. But a game-changing Power that's potentially available to anyone.
That dark-side-battling Biblical warrior found it. He said: "Who will free me from this?...Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ."
Not a fictional Jedi with a light-saber. Not a benign religious figure, hanging on a ceramic crucifix. But the only Man who ever conquered the ultimate dark force that's vanquished every other human - death.
History records that Jesus Christ blew the doors off His grave and came back victorious. And He offered an amazing spiritual power to any who followed Him. He called it being "filled with the Holy Spirit." Not a force. A Person.
God Himself, moving into my soul, bringing with Him the power that conquered death itself. And powerful enough to conquer the dark side that has always conquered me.
Making possible a humanly impossible miracle. Making me, in the Bible's words, "a new creation in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17). And guaranteeing me a breathtaking future.
3. There is a home to be celebrated.
A powerful scene in "The Force Awakens" shows a time-worn Han Solo smiling and saying, "We're home."
I smiled when I heard that. That's how I felt when I decided Jesus should run my life instead of me. Because He died to forgive my cosmic rebellion against Him. I was "home." In the Relationship I was made for.
Making possible a future beyond anything Hollywood could ever imagine. In heaven. With Jesus. That's the day I'll really smile and say, "I'm home."