The movie Captain America, the First Avenger continues to offer valuable truths regarding dreams, determination and spiritual warfare. The hero, Steve Rogers, has a big dream — to serve in the U.S. Army during WWII. Trouble is, Steve’s a sickly ninety-pound weakling who can’t pass the enlistment physical — until one day, when quite unexpectedly, he’s chosen by Dr. Abraham Erskine, for a great experiment. Suddenly, with Erskine’s help, Steve is on his way to realizing his seemingly impossible dream.
On the day of the great experiment, when Steve Rogers begins to see his once seemingly impossible dream start to come true — to be able to serve the cause of freedom by fighting the Nazi forces of tyranny — he also learns one of the cold hard facts of life.
As several military officers and government officials look on, Steve is placed into a chamber specially designed by the wealthy industrialist Howard Stark, enabling Dr. Abraham Erskine to inject his puny subject with a top-secret super soldier formula. Stark then turns a dial, flooding the chamber with “delta waves” — and an amazing (and for Steve, somewhat painful) transformation takes place.
In mere minutes, through rapid cellular regeneration, Steve grows from a scrawny 90-pound weakling, into the epitome of male perfection; from well below average to far above average; from a scrawny kid no one took notice of — who couldn’t buy his way into the army — to the man of the hour who’s destined to become the subject of military enlistment posters. Steve goes from runt to hunk!
Erskine’s process to transform Steve into a super soldier is a complete success, to the great relief of Special Agent Peggy Carter, who’d been tasked with helping Steve with his training. During those first weeks, and well before his transformation into a superman, Peggy had developed a romantic attachment to Steve. Like Dr. Erskine, she was willing to look beyond the surface, and saw something special in the young man.
The military and government observers are also relieved. One senator quips, “I can think of some folks in Berlin who are about to get very nervous.”
And of course, Steve is elated! The results of Erskine’s serum are far beyond his highest hopes and wildest imaginings. Finally, he can do his patriotic duty, in the war against German oppression. Finally, he has an open door to fulfill his destiny. “How do you feel?” Peggy asks. Steve responds in awe: “Taller!”
Unfortunately, while everyone is celebrating, and before Steve has a chance to enjoy the sweetness of the moment — of the first huge step on the path to realizing his hopes and dreams — or to mentally process how it will forever change his life for the better, tragedy strikes!
Also present at this highly classified experiment, taking place in a secret facility beneath the streets of Brooklyn, is a Nazi saboteur. Access to this well-guarded underground facility is granted only to those with the proper security clearance and knowledge of a confidential pass code. And yet, in this seemingly safe and secure environment where only friends and allies should be gathered, the enemy has infiltrated.
This evil spy shoots Dr. Erskine, detonates a bomb, and flees with a vial of the precious super serum, leaving behind him death, destruction and mass mayhem.
Steve immediately runs to the side of Dr. Erskine. As he kneels over his dying mentor, Erskine weakly points to Steve’s heart, to remind him of who he is; to remind him to Please remain a good man, even in the face of evil. Something the doctor asked Steve to promise him, as they sat in an army barracks the night before.
As his friend and mentor dies, Steve realizes that what should have been the happiest day in his life, when his dreams are just beginning to come true, has instead turned out to be one of the saddest. Erskine’s death is wrong, cruel, and ill–timed. It’s a bitter disappointment that steals most of the sweetness of Steve’s first victory on the road to fulfilling his destiny.
How does all this relate to spiritual warfare and the pursuit of our dreams and creative endeavors? In a few ways, one of which we’ll discuss now. The rest we’ll address in later sessions. (Please bare with us, there’s a lot to unpack here.)
First and foremost: LIFE is often bittersweet!
Most creators and dreamers should be able to relate to Steve Rogers. Just when we’re well along our way to realizing our greatest hopes and dreams, just when we think we’ve finally got a break, found an open door, met a major goal … LIFE throws us an unexpected curve. Just when we think we’ve “arrived” — something totally wrong, seemingly cruel, and incredibly ill–timed happens to steal away the sweetness of our little victory and dim the brightness of an otherwise glorious achievement.
The poet Maya Angelou writes, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” Indeed, it’s a sad truth, but there are plenty bumps along the road of life, plenty of brambles on the path to your destiny. We may stumble and fall, but what’s important is what we do after we get back on our feet — how we FEEL and what we THINK once we recover from a temporary disappointment or defeat.
Jesus said, “In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 AMP) In other words, regardless of what life dishes out, never lose heart in the pursuit of your goals and dreams. Stay faithful and you will get there.
By the way, one of Satan’s tactics of warfare is to try to steal your peace when “life happens.” But we have the perfect defense: God’s peace is not based on circumstances or feelings; it’s based on: who He is — “the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6); who we are, and whose we are. As part of the family of God, we are heirs to His peace.
Interestingly, the Hebrew word for peace is Shalom. It means: complete; nothing missing, nothing lacking. The peace of God is knowing that no matter what circumstances or situation you find yourself, you have everything you need to meet the challenge. No wonder it’s a standard form of greeting: Peace be with you!
God’s concept of peace is also a part of the Aaronic blessing which Rabbis still declare over their congregants at the end of Jewish Sabbath services (Shabbat). Read it, in Numbers 6:24-26, and claim it’s truth.
Have you hit a bump in the road? Is something or someone raining on your parade? If so, run to the loving arms of the Prince of Peace. Trust God even when life throws you an unexpected curve. Stay in peace (Shalom) even in the midst of negative circumstances. Life is often bittersweet, but we can choose not to allow it to sour our disposition or dim our outlook. Focus instead on God’s love, His goodness and His faithfulness. When you do, you’ll experience the complete triumph of which the prophet Isaiah writes:
“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].” (Isaiah 26:3 AMP)