Written by Dave Carl, Family Ministry Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church
“Unbreakable” was released in 2000 and is one of my favorite M. Night Shyamalan films. It stars Bruce Willis—one more reason I like it. This is the story of a beaten down, former football hero who is under employed, uncommunicative, and has lost the will to fight for his marriage or the affection of his only son. He has long ago lost his purpose. David Dunn (Willis) is actually a man of super human strength, and he is, for all intents and purposes, unbreakable. He once knew this when he played football, but because his then-girlfriend/now-wife is so opposed to violence, he chose to fake an injury and quit football altogether. He then ended up as a security guard at the local sports stadium (where he used to win games) because it is the safest job he could find. His wife has pushed him and needled him for years to never take risks and never let their son take risks. In order to keep the peace, this man who is capable of comic book level feats has literally forgotten who he is and what he can do. His purpose, as we will see later in the film, is to enter into great risk and properly use violence. This is occasionally required to rescue people from men who are being violent in hellish ways. In an attempt to live safely and without risk, this family had blocked the possibility of rescue coming to those who were being overwhelmed by violent men.
This is not uncommon in real life. Perhaps because of past failures and hardships, the wife, the husband, or both have come to calculate their life primarily in terms of risk avoidance. There can be no risk. Neither harm nor failure is allowed, so all decisions are made to avoid risk. This creates a marriage and a family of kids who have no purpose other than their own well-being. This is the opposite of any verse in Scripture for believers. When we live under these terms, we lose our way. We become self-centered and afraid.
Living for safety is NOT a way to live without fear; it actually intensifies the fear.
You instinctively know that trouble, hardship, and even tragedy may come to call at any moment. To think you can live without the possibility of bad things happening is a cartoonish fantasy. To think you can work hard enough to protect your family from every danger and hardship is an illusion that will sap your strength and then give you no assurance in the end. It is also an act of rebellion against God. It is in fact a choice to worship self-protection rather than trust in God.
If, on the other hand, you are living for the purpose of pursuing God and caring for others like we are called to in Scripture:
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27
Trouble, hardship, and tragedy are not what you are thinking about all the time. If they occur, it is bad to be sure. We will likely need help from friends to manage it all, but these hardships will not take us off purpose. We will not be disoriented by them.
Difficulties and even tragedies often clarify our purpose or redirect us to the new path God has in mind for the next chapter of our lives. If we are devoted to a life sanitized from hardship, we will never be on the journey God has in mind for us. We will live small, empty, and self-centered lives that will keep us bound in fear and feelings of helplessness.
Our purpose—to love God and love others—is a call to adventure, occasional hardship, and uncertain outcomes. It is a life of us seeing things accomplished that are far out of proportion to the effort, skill, and know-how that we put into it.
We can operate in the power of The Holy Spirit, doing the stuff God has called us to because we have a great purpose. We can participate in the works that He has prepared for us to accomplish (Ephesians 2:10) but only if we live focused on Him and what He wants. Only then can we be co-laborers, and we can be present when He does incredible, amazing, and life-giving things. Do not be seduced by safety and the illusion of comfort. There are great things to do in the power of God. Jesus didn’t tell the disciples in The Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations, but remember, safety first!
The proper response to God’s call is “Here am I. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Then grab onto something solid, ‘cuz the adventure is about to begin.
Dave Carl is the Family Ministry Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church and is responsible for the ministry focusing on children birth through graduation and the parents who love them. With a ministry philosophy based on Luke 10:27, his primary focus is to give parents the skills to raise kids who truly love Jesus and want to serve others. Dave has a passion for ministering to families in crisis in our community. He has spent several years pouring into fathers and husbands and helping them learn that they need community, were designed to guard and protect, and that they really can be the spiritual leaders of their family.
Dave and his wife of 30 plus years, Cathy, have two adult children and one in high school and recently became grandparents for the first time. They are completely in love with this new member of their family. Dave is an avid woodworker and loves to write. He sees all stories in the form of pictures, and he would love to connect with you!