I was reading a comic the other day and found myself relating to Odin, Thor’s dad. Here’s the background: Odin is the highest Norse god. His son is Thor, the god of thunder, smasher of coffee mugs.
In the Fear Itself series, their great enemy, the Serpent, was set free from his prison. The Serpent unleashed his minions on humanity to spread terror all over the world. As fear is generated, it makes the Serpent stronger. When all the world has been filled with fear, the Serpent will be strong enough to kill Odin and the Norse gods. (Follow so far?)
Odin decided the best option was to kill all humans. With no humans generating fear, the Serpent’s source of power would be extinguished and he could be easily defeated. But Thor learned of another way. There was a prophecy that said Thor and the Serpent would fight, but both would die in the process. But while Thor is willing to fight the Serpent and die, Odin would rather just destroy all humans and start again. The father and son argued about it constantly.
And that’s where these panels come from. Odin is the one-eyed old man. Thor is the one who looks like a male model.
Odin said, “Were you ever to become a father… Maybe you would understand. A world is nothing for your son.” And I could totally relate. Ever since Philip was born, I’ve felt a reordering of my values and priorities. Many things are still important for me, but Philip has just jumped ahead of them.
Like ministry. I love campus ministry. It would be a dream come true if I could do this my entire life. But if I were ever to find that my work in campus ministry wasn’t good for Philip for whatever reason, then I would walk away immediately. It would be painful, but not a difficult decision. Philip’s that important.
As I kept thinking about it, I realized that I can’t think of anyone or anything that would matter more to me than my family. And it’s the same for all dads. Any normal father would give himself for his son. No normal father would ever give his son for anything or anyone else.
That’s why God the Father is different.
I realized that feeling the way I do about Philip now helped me see just how painful it must have been for God to send Jesus. That popular verse isn’t as cheery sounding anymore when you think as a dad,
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Honestly, there’s no one on earth I love enough to sacrifice Philip for. I’d let the whole world would burn before I let anything harm Philip. Odin thought the same. But God, the only true God, thought differently. He looked at a world full of sinners, His enemies, people like you and me, and loved us enough to send what was most precious to Him to save us.
So if you like, please join me in a version of the prayer I prayed that day,
Father God, thank you for loving me. It is too much, and I’m so undeserving. For a father to give up his son for someone is unthinkable, how much more for a sinner like me. It’s overwhelming to consider. But without it, there would be no hope for me. So all I can say is thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Please help me learn to love others and You the way you love me. Amen
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