I know – you’re shocked that I might like Star Wars. I don’t go to conventions or anything, if that’s what you’re thinking. But the stories are fun.
I know – you’re shocked that I was in a bar. Don’t be. I wasn’t there to get drunk.
But in 1982 I really did meet Darth Vader in a bar.
Here’s what happened:
When I was tiny – I mean a really little kid – my father stormed out of the house and never returned. My memories of that night are vivid, but they are, after all, from a 4-year-old’s perspective. I was little, so he was really, really big.
He was scary, too. He was broad and strong and dark and loud – he sounded ominous. In addition to his threatening image, he had come to represent everything evil in this world. He was, for me, Darth Vader.
While the years went by, my thoughts of him were consistent in this perspective. I was, more than anything, afraid of this hulking figure and malevolent nature that made me tremble. There was nothing about my childhood experiences that made me change my mind.
But in 1982, I got engaged to be married, and somehow he heard about it. He sent me a message that he wanted to meet with me and get reacquainted. Though I had feared him all those years, I had also longed to know him. So I agreed to go to meet him (with my older brother for protection).
I was all grown up then – no need to be afraid. But I was. I was terrified!
With all the maturity I could muster, I made myself look as adult as possible (I did not want him to see me as that scared little girl anymore!) My brother and I walked in to the appointed, public, meeting place.
And that’s when I met Darth Vader… He was sitting at the bar. Waiting for me.
In an instant, I took in the scene before me. His cape was tattered and faded. His helmet was battered and dented from many miles of bad road. He wore thick glasses and he had let himself go terribly. No longer strong and formidable – he was overweight and flabby – and had teeth missing. He certainly wasn’t as tall as I had remembered.
And I could tell immediately that he was even more nervous to meet me than I was to meet him.
So why would I put something like this on my blog?
Because God came down in that moment standing at the bar and taught me something I have never forgotten. That meeting that day changed everything for me. I had allowed fear and dread to rule in my heart. It had shaped not just my thinking about my father, but about all fathers – most men even. My fear paralyzed me from doing the things I’d wanted to do – from being the person I knew God wanted me to be. I feared Darth Vader more than I feared God, but He was about to show me how ridiculous that was.
Sitting there on that bar stool was a man. My father. No longer Darth Vader. Simply a human man. In fact, a man I now pitied and had compassion for. I had no reason to fear him. I had no reason to be intimidated by his image or my memories. He had lost everything and I had been blessed with so much.
God gave that meeting to me, there in the bar, as a sweet gift. It was as if he was telling me personally, in such a profound way, that I had nothing to fear. God was with me – what could man (including Darth Vader Dad) do to me?
It all melted away in an instant. Bars aren’t well-lit, but at that moment, I knew I was washed in the light of truth. God wasn’t telling me to “buck up”. He wasn’t telling me to find the strength somewhere deep down inside myself to face my fears head-on and be stronger than they are.
The lesson was simple: “Know me. Trust ME. I got this. You do not have to worry about it at all.”
I’ve mentally referred to that moment many times. God was so kind to show me how BIG he is and how small my fears are. It’s not that I don’t still have fears – of course I do. But like David facing Goliath – I have learned to not focus on the giants before me. I focus on the mighty God who is infinitely bigger than any giant I may face.
Even Darth Vader.
My hope is that you will learn to do the same. There is great joy in realizing we risk nothing to follow God’s plan for us, and there is unmeasurable sorrow if we don’t. My prayer for you is joy.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9