Lessons from Percy Jackson
Not to be left out of this year’s reading (listening to) books while traveling, Dietrich chose the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. We listened to these books on our longer trips, to and from visits with family, often finishing them while driving around town or sitting in the living room. I did NOT enjoy reading Mythology in my high school English class, but I do enjoy these stories. In part, my brain block regarding mythology had everything to do with being a Christian. When humans created gods for themselves, they gave the gods human characteristics – often the worst ones. When God created humans, He gave us the best of Himself. With the Percy Jackson series, this is still evident, but Rick Riordan has a way of telling a story with Greek mythology in an exciting way. The adventure keeps you interested in the story. He also throws in some valuable life lessons.
Our words have power. One word can change the course of someone’s day. The Word is even more, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12 NLT). In James 3, we are warned about “taming the tongue” and being careful of how we use our words. The book of Proverbs has much to say about how we speak to one another. Our actions are even more powerful. One act of kindness can impact someone’s life. One small ripple could make waves that reach beyond imagination.
Being stuck happens. Staying stuck is optional. One of my favorite verses (which is also one often taken out of context and misused) speaks on this matter. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul recounts the history of Israel wandering in the wilderness. He talks about their grumbling and complaining, and about the consequences for their sins. He also says God provides a way out. We are not to test God, but to stand firm. Then in verses 12-13, we read, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (NLT). We all face challenges and we all have the opportunity to seek the way out. Unlike this quote that says the way out is only for the clever, GOD gives the way out to anyone willing to seek Him. He does this because HE is good, not because we are deserving.
We all have unique talents and abilities. How we use them matters. Do you use your gifts solely for self-gain and recognition or do you use your gifts to bless others and glorify God? Not all talents are silver and gold. Each stage of life offers a unique opportunity to use your talents. For many years, I struggled, thinking I was wasting my education, yet I came to realize I had the best job and the most opportunities to share my talents, even as a stay at home mom. God wastes nothing!
No one else has your unique qualifications. God set good works for us to do from before the beginning! (Ephesians 2:10). Your experiences, both the good and the bad, provide you with the expertise needed to complete the works God set aside for you. There are people that can only be reached through YOUR story. Our lives are made richer through the experiences that shape us and the people we meet along the journey.
For the demigods in the books, at least to a certain point, Camp Half Blood was a safe haven. In the outside world, monsters hunted them. For us, the real world is also full of monsters, but not the “flesh and blood” variety. (Romans 8:37-39, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Ephesians 6:11-13, Daniel 10). We are relatively safe if we only keep company with like-minded believers. We are also incredibly ineffective at sharing the Gospel if we only associate with those who already know it. Facing the monsters involves great risk but the reward is eternal. You can flee in fear or you can rise to the challenge.
Our vision is often limited or distorted by distractions. We see things as we want to see them. It takes great effort to change our beliefs and thought patterns. We will go to great lengths to make reality fit what we believe. The Internet has made that easier than ever. We have so much information at our fingertips. We can find numerous sources to back up our own belief system. What if we were to read multiple points of view? What if we intentionally attempted to look at something from someone else’s viewpoint? What might we learn in the process? We are often more capable than we realize, if we are willing to put in a little extra effort.
Most heroes don’t wear capes. In fact, the most heroic people don’t set out to be extraordinary, they simply do what needs to be done. This may look like sitting with the person all alone in the lunchroom, giving your “doggie bag” to someone on the street, or visiting someone in need of company. The little things we do often create the biggest waves.