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Bible Devotional #15: SHORT CIRCUITS AND CLEAN SLATES (Iron Man 3)

Tony Stark:

  • Billionaire.
  • Playboy.
  • Philanthropist.
  • Super, heroic savior of the world.

Yet Tony can’t sleep at night.  Why?  Let’s take a closer look at his life.

  • Billionaire.  Stark Industries is a majorly successful major corporation.  However, in its line of work, if Stark backs the wrong people, not only will the company go bankrupt and employees be out of work, but the fate of the entire world could be put at risk.
  • Playboy.  Tony’s attempts at escapism—dodging his responsibilities, running away, partying, sex, substance abuse, moving his girlfriend in with him, even hiding behind his Iron Man suit and keeping busy making a bazillion models of it—none of this could quell his inner turmoil for long.  Tony’s nerves still frayed.  His troubles did not cease.  And being a playboy has left him with many enemies and few friends.
  • Philanthropist.  Hard to go wrong helping people—theoretically.  But why is it that Tony can save the world and have millions of fans adore him, yet still not be able to make the one person closest to him happy?
  • Superhero.  Tony almost lost his life the last time the universe was attacked.  What happens when an even bigger threat inevitably comes along?  Plus, there is nothing Iron Man can do to save the life of his best friend who is hospitalized and near death.

What does all this add up to?  Pressure.  Feeling “the weight of the world on your shoulders” is a lot of pressure.  And we’ve all felt that way.  Marriage.  Singlehood.  Family.  Lack of family.  Health.  Insurance.  Debt.  Schoolwork, housework, work work.  PRESSURE!

The Bible recounts the story of another man responsible for the whole world—literally.  A man, not with an arc (reactor), but an ark:  Noah.  We often hear about how Noah, a hero in his own right, built a giant ark, persevered through an earth-wiping flood, and was blessed by God (Genesis 6-9).  But there is more to the story after the rainbow.

One day, Noah made himself drunk with wine and lay down naked in front of God and everybody (Genesis 9:21).  Just like that, Noah went from being the one person on the entire planet whom God deemed righteous enough to salvage to lying in his own drool in a naked heap in disgrace.  What happened?  What got the best of Noah?  Perhaps the same thing that got to Tony: pressure.

Let’s retrace Noah’s journey.

  • First, Noah was given the incomprehensible assignment of building the ark (Genesis 6:14-16).  Along with this probably came the further headaches of having to convince his family of the whole ark/flood thing, getting ridiculed by his neighbors, and managing the gathering of all the animals (v. 19-21).
  • Next, Noah had to actually live on the ark, cramped up with his family and the animals for over a year (Genesis 7-8).
  • Even after disembarking from the ark, Noah surely felt guilt and grief at the loss of all the rest of the living creatures on the earth—including majestic lions, baby squirrels, and, of course, PEOPLE, some of whom were probably enemies whom Noah may have casually wished dead a time or two, and others for whom Noah probably cared a great deal.
  • Alas, there was the daunting charge of commencing to repopulate the world—starting with just Noah’s own little family—and trying to keep that new world right with God this time.

What does all this add up to?  Pressure.  With a capital P.  And that rhymes with T.  And that stands for Trouble.  (Or something like that.)

Noah’s trouble in this instance was substance abuse.  Tony’s trouble was insomnia and panic attacks.  Our trouble can lead to those same results and a multitude of others (headaches, depression, divorce, overspending, suicide, etc.).

So how can we cope with the pressures we face?  Believe it or not, we can take a few cues from what Tony Stark eventually did.

  • Prioritize.  (Luke 12:34.)  What is important to you?  What should be important?  You may need to do some reevaluating.  If what should be your biggest priority is getting the least of your time and energy, you may need to make some changes.

Tony decided that Pepper was what was most important to him, yet she was often being pushed to a back burner in his life.So, he had to:

  • Simplify.  (Psalm 119:37.)  This doesn’t mean becoming a hermit and living in a cave.  It just means getting rid of unnecessary clutter and baggage.  Maybe you don’t need an Xbox and a Wii and a PlayStation.  Maybe you don’t need to be involved in eight different clubs.

After Tony prioritized his life, he realized he didn’t need dozens of Iron Man suits.  So, he gave himself a clean slate.

Some pressures you can’t get rid of: illnesses, difficult family members, taxes…But, if you can trim the clutter, you can better accomplish the next step:

  • Focus.  (Luke 10: 38-42.)  So much anymore, we value quantity over quality.  Why do one thing when we can do 12, right?  But multitasking hurts our focus, and too much of our focus goes towards the wrong things.  You can go to a restaurant any night and see a family of four sitting at a table where the dad is listening to a ballgame on his iPod, the mother is browsing through recipes on Pinterest, the daughter is texting, and the son is playing Angry Birds.  Not one of those things is truly important in this life and especially not for eternity.

When we focus, we can actually accomplish more (quality-wise)—better and safer.

Once Tony was able to simplify his life, he freed up a lot of time and energy that he was then able to focus toward his biggest priority, Pepper.  He was even able to focus more on himself (this time in a non-narcissistic way) and realized that his suit and arc reactor were not what made him a hero, and that being a hero did not automatically make him a good man.

  • Relax.  (Mark 6:31.)  Last, but not least believe it or not, we need to make time to relax.  That’s much easier said than done, but it’s a must.  You cannot go nonstop 18 hours a day, seven days a week.  Make rest a priority.  You can’t help others or accomplish anything for yourself if you’re running on fumes.  Even Tony needs to recharge his suit sometimes.

Life can be a handful at times.  Being a Christian does not eliminate pressures, but making God an active part of your life can give you hope and help.  If you feel like you’re about to short circuit, take time to make for yourself a clean slate.  Make time for God and ask Him to help you prioritize, simplify, reorganize, delegate, focus, and relax.  Then, hopefully, you can rest a bit easier and live better.

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