One of the great sorrows which came to human beings when Adam and Eve left the Garden was the loss of memory, memory of all that God’s children are meant to be. ~~Madeleine L’Engle
Blood Diamond is a powerful movie in which an African character named Solomon Vandy has been in constant pursuit of his son, Dia, since he was kidnapped by R.U.F. guerillas several weeks earlier. Solomon himself was enslaved by the R.U.F. and forced to work in the diamond fields. He finds a rare diamond worth millions and decides to bury it, hoping it will help him “buy back” his son.
Meanwhile, Dia’s kidnappers, the violent militia known as the R.U.F., have brainwashed Dia and turned him into a killer. He is even given a new name, “See No More,” and is lied to about his family. His captors have conditioned him to be a ruthless killer. The R.U.F. has made him commit terrible atrocities, to the point where he cannot even remember his former identity or family.
After his escape from slavery, Solomon chases his son across the continent of Africa, risking his life time and again to save his son. There is a powerful scene when this father is face to face with a son who hardly remembers the life they once shared together.
The father looks up to see his son pointing a gun at him.
Solomon Vandy says, “Dia. What are you doing?! Dia!! Look at me. Look at me!! What are you doing?”
Walking towards his son very carefully, he continues, “You are Dia Vandy of the Proumanday Tribe. You are a good boy. You love soccer, and school. Your mother loves you so much. She waits by the fire making plantains and red stew. And the new baby…. The cows wait for you, and Bakwu, the wild dog who minds no one but you. Mmm? I know they made you do bad things. You are not a bad boy. I am your father, who loves you. And you will come home with me and be my son…again.”
Dia lowers the gun and then they embrace.
Without the voice of the Father we can forget who we are and in our “lostness,” we often do unspeakable things in this world.
Part of what it means to be a Christ-follower is that we are on a life-long journey of remembering who we were when we lived in Eden with our Father.
In Genesis 27 there is a sad story of how Jacob tricked Isaac into giving him the family blessing instead of the older twin and favored son, Esau. He did it by cooking Isaac’s favorite meal, wearing Esau’s clothes and even putting the hide of a goat on his hands, arms and neck to simulate the hairiness of Esau.
It worked. Isaac was fooled and gave the blessing of belovedness to the unintended son and the family was fragmented beyond repair.
Jacob went to great lengths, took enormous risks in order to get the blessing of belovedness. But what he would not do was stand before his father as himself. He had to dress up and pretend to be someone else in order to get the blessing. Most everyone I know is pretending to be someone they aren’t in order to find approval and the blessing of the beloved. I have spent years trying to be ____________________. You can fill in the blank.
Only when I stand before my father and say,
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
It is there at that cross I find the great exchange. Jesus became cursed so that I might be blessed and when I receive that blessing I find my way home.
I’ve discovered that in counting my blessings and claiming them, my own blessedness always leads to a deep desire to bless others. As the “blessed ones,” we can walk through this world and offer blessings. It doesn’t require much effort. It flows naturally from our hearts. When we listen and count…
One night on the Pacific Crest Trail a retired police officer from L.A. began telling us cop stories. They were profane, vulgar and even racist in some ways. At one point I asked him what all of the carnage he was witness to did to his soul. He looked at me blankly. I said, “All of that evil and hatred, pain and suffering—it went somewhere inside you. Where did it go?”
Again a blank look.
Then he asked, “What do you do when you aren’t hiking the PCT?”
“I’m a pastor,” I said.
He hemmed and hawed a little and said something about gallows humor and that he felt God protected him and changed the subject.
The next morning he and his son and three other hikers were sitting at a table drinking coffee as I was walking across the parking lot towards the trail head. I waved at them, tried to catch up with my hiking buddy. Then something told me to go back.
I turned around and walked back towards them. They watched me approach—smiling.
The cop shouted, “Forget something, Rev?”
“Yes,” I said as I got closer. “I have something I want to give you.”
I stood before them and raised both hands, palms out towards them and said,
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”’
The cop looked at me slack-jawed and then they all said in unison, “Amen.”
Listen to the voice of your Heavenly Father and see if you hear the echo of Eden in these words:
I know that sin has made you do bad things. You are not a bad person. I am your father, who loves you. And you will come home with me and be my child…again.”
One of my favorites, Pastor Joe.