You would be correct to label me a big fan of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’ve seen every episode many times and have also seen every big-screen movie based upon the series. While I enjoy the original Star Trek series and movies, William Shatner as Captain Kirk is a little too much for me. I much prefer Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard, the captain of the starship Enterprise in The Next Generation series. As for all the other Star Trek spinoffs (Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise), I never really got into them. My apologies to any rabid “trekkies” out there who might take offense to that. Also, I don’t want any Christians hating me over the fact that the entire Star Trek universal view builds off a basic foundation of evolution. I’m perfectly capable of enjoying some sci-fi entertainment without forsaking my belief in the Biblical account of creation.
The only place I can find Star Trek: The Next Generation these days is on B.B.C, and a few weeks back I happened to catch an episode entitled “Homeward.” The storyline involved Captain Picard and his crew violating the “prime directive.” For those of you who don’t know, the “prime directive” is Starfleet’s most important rule. It forbids interfering with the natural societal development of an alien civilization and culture. For example, a Starfleet officer can’t just beam down to a planet populated by a primitive, backward people and say, “Hi, I traveled here in a spaceship from Earth. Let’s talk.” That, you see, would afflict that alien race with a knowledge they simply aren’t ready to handle. It’s only when an alien race starts sending out spaceships themselves that Captain Picard and his crew can rightfully initiate contact with them. Of course, the “prime directive” gets violated multiple times over the course of the series, always resulting in major problems. Evidently the show’s writers thought such problems made for good t.v.
Anyway, let me get back to the “Homeward” episode. I won’t bore you with all the details, but a certain Starfleet anthropologist has been working in a disguised observation post on an alien planet to covertly study a race known as the Boraalans. Unfortunately, the whole setup goes awry and Captain Picard and his crew are forced to get involved in an effort to salvage the situation without the Boraalans finding out about deep space, starships, advanced technology, and other races. As usual, however, problems arise. In particular, one young Boraalan ends up walking the corridors and halls of the Enterprise, seeing wonders he can’t fathom and meeting crew members he never dreamed could exist.
In the end, the young man is faced with a choice. He can remain on the Enterprise and build a new life for himself out there roaming the galaxies or he can return to his home planet and fake it for the rest of his life, allowing his people to continue to believe that their planet and race are utterly unique in the universe. Sadly, he can’t reconcile himself to either option and chooses instead to take his own life. The casualty bothers Picard and he regrets that the young man couldn’t return to his home and ultimately become a bridge to link his people with Picard’s people.
Okay, so where am I going with all this? Well, it strikes me that sometimes in this life we get to the place where we have simply outgrown our little world. At that point, like that young Boraalan, we can either embrace the newness of the great unknown and step out in faith to meet it or timidly shrink back to the comfortable confines of the life we have always known.
As long as I am running with t.v. illustrations today, I’ll also throw in a word about the famous episode of The Andy Griffith Show where Opie kills the mother bird with his slingshot and then takes up the responsibility of raising her babies. He keeps them in a cage until he realizes they are flopping all around the cage as they are trying to fly. Opie says to Andy, “Pa, I think they need a bigger cage,” to which Andy responds by explaining that they do need a bigger cage, the cage of flying free in nature. Opie then sets them free and watches each one fly off. Christian, what I’m saying is that sometimes you reach a place in your life where you need a bigger cage if you are going to continue growing and thriving in your faith-building adventure with Christ.
It is with all of this in mind that I encourage you to use the beginning of this new year to take real stock of your life. Where are you these days? Are you happy with your current situation? Are you content to continue on down the road you are traveling? Are you satisfied with your place? The fact is, many people are. And, for that matter, God may want you to remain right where you are, doing exactly what you are doing, for many years to come. That’s a very real possibility that you need to consider.
Ah, but then there are those other seasons in life, those where God is leading you to explore a brand new world or fly out of your confining cage (depending upon which of my two t.v. illustrations you like best). He called Abraham to leave his hometown of Ur and journey to a new land, the land of Canaan. He called Moses to leave his comfortable existence in Midian, return to Egypt, and take up the biggest challenge of his life. He called Nehemiah to leave behind his life in a Persian palace, travel to Jerusalem, and lead a small group of followers in the rebuilding of the city’s walls. Jesus called Matthew to leave behind his occupation as a tax collector and follow Him into a new existence. He did the same thing in calling Peter, Andrew, James, and John to drop their fishing nets and go with Him wherever He went.
You see, the Lord knows that one of the greatest killers of faith and dependence upon Him is the blandness of a humdrum existence in which we know all the answers before the questions are even asked because we’ve got the test memorized. That’s what can happen when we stay in one place, doing one thing, for too long. We become too comfortable, too confident in our own abilities, too predictable, and too spiritually complacent. That’s when a new galaxy or a bigger cage is needed. Such times of drastic change and upheaval drive us to the Lord and compel us to seek His daily guidance and provision. And that, after all, is how He wants us to live.