The Gospel for Real Life

Wil E. Coyote Theology*

Over the past few months I’ve introduced the Roadrunner and Wil E. Coyote to my children. Of course there’s much laughter as they watch it, and I have to be honest, I love watching it, too.

As I looked at this picture I thought of how I can relate to Wil E. Coyote (and I’m wondering if you can, too).

While watching this cartoon, you may get the thought, “Why do you keep doing this?! Just go find something else to eat. Shouldn’t you be starving by now? Have you had anything in the last 1,000 episodes?” And, at times in an episode, this sad and pathetic creature waves a sign that says “HELP!” or something like that. But, my question is, “Does he really want help or does he just not want to fall 500 feet down the canyon?” I ask that question because he goes right back to that same bird to get him! He’s never going to get him.

You see, this is where I see myself. Personally I lean more towards the pessimistic. The glass is always half empty (and sometimes it’s 3/4 to 9/10). There are many times I’ll cry out to God and say, “HELP!” But, am I really asking for help or do I just want out of this struggle I’m in? Maybe I simply want the pain or the difficulty to pass. And, while I may say “HELP”, I know I’m just going to go about my life my way again (looking for my own results) – without living by faith – getting me back into the same predicament, hanging precariously from some spiritual tree or finding myself running on thin air in a cloud. And, as soon as that cloud dissipates, I’m going to realize that I have nothing keeping me from falling. That’s when the “HELP!” sign goes up.

So, how do I (we) stop this cycle?

I came across Hebrews 12 recently, and it struck me in a different way. After the author writes about many heroes of faith, he exhorts the believers to lay aside sin and every weight that encumbers them. Then he goes on to give two reasons why:

  1. Consider Jesus. He purchased your spiritual growth. He also went through death. I haven’t died while fighting my sin and weaknesses. (vv. 2-4)
  2. God is disciplining me. (vv. 5-11)

I want to take a moment and focus on the second point. I always understood, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves” as some type of spiritual spanking. However, in the context of this passage, I see it differently. God is saying that he is shaping and molding and challenging me THROUGH the weaknesses and sins in my life. While some may disagree with this statement, it is the Lord that is ordaining the weaknesses and sins in my life. (By that I do not mean that he is approving of sin or desires that we sin). What I mean is that in my (our) life we will have trouble. Jesus promised that. But God is using that trouble to train us – like a coach with an athlete. And, as any good athlete should do, if he falls off the treadmill or passes out, he should always trust the coach and look towards the goal to ensure that he wins the race.

Ultimately, as a human and as a Christian, there are many difficulties. Yet, God is the ultimately gracious Father who is using everything to mold and shape us. And, he tells us, lay aside the sin and weaknesses AND be encouraged because God is using even these things to grow us to become more like him. So, instead of waving around some fake “HELP!” sign and doing the same thing over and over again, really cry out to God. Stop trusting in your own efforts, and run after Christ – not any other thing – to satisfy you fully.

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11 ESV)

*originally written Dec. 4, 2010


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