When Austin was 3 years old he loved playing dress-up. He had more costumes lying around this house than you could count. I would go in the day after Halloween and scoop up all the leftover costumes at a fraction of the asking price and he would have costumes to last throughout the year. I found some awesome face paints and read tutorials on how to do the perfect tiger, dragon, ninja…you name it, we did it. Our house felt like it was inhabited by carnies 24/7.
I was looking on my dresser yesterday and I saw something that my best friend Stu gave me…..Yes, Action Figure Jesus! I love AFJ!! When I am sad I stretch His arms out like he is reaching for me. When I am happy, His arms reach to the sky with joy. When I am disappointed in myself I hang His arms to the side. And when I have really screwed up I can bend one arm so his hand looks like it is smacking his forehead. I can project my own feelings onto AFJ and it reminds me of the things I need to pray about. But when I think about the real Jesus, I don’t think He would do any of those things except hold His arms straight out towards me waiting for me to run into them, fall into them or use them to help me stand when I just don’t think I can do it on my own anymore. Yes, I guess you could say He is my real life Superhero! I know He will never leave me, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20b He fights for me, The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord. Proverbs 21:31 And He loves me, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 I know without a shadow of a doubt that He is on my side. I also know that with Him in my life I can do anything. I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. Phillipians 4:13
After Austin graduated from small animals to super heroes, our life took a turn for the, er – let’s say, more adventurous. He soon discovered that every thing in this house could be turned into a cape, and if he felt extra invincible he would wear said cape and jump from any object that offered him a pedestal looming over the ground below.
One of my favorite memories of this role playing occurred when Austin was 4 and attending a little private pre-school here in town. I was constantly being reprimanded by the teacher for allowing my son to run wild with such a vivid imagination. Apparently he spent his lunch hours trying to show the others how to fly, take down villains with the use of swords, and jump (fly, in his mind) across the classroom furniture. Anyhow, his favorite superhero was obviously Batman. I think he chose Batman because it was a given that he had a sidekick (Robin, of course). Robin drove a mini van Bat mobile and always kept Batman in juice boxes and fruit snack power meals.
Whenever it was time to go to pre-school, Austin would don his cape and mask (the one with the pointy Batman ears), and we would prepare to leave the house. I can still see his little hand grab the corner of the cape thrusting it over his left shoulder and he headed for the door shouting, “To the bat mobile, Robin!”
Of course, like any good sidekick, I would grab the keys, the lunch, and extra clothes and follow him to the car. Sometimes, as I was slowly backing up in the driveway I would leave the side door open and he would run and jump in the bat mobile – which was obviously moving faster than the speed of light in his little mind. Those were precious times. I can tell him the story over and over and over again but it will never hold the same depth of endearment to him that it does to me. You see, during these moments of play, Austin needed me (really, what good IS Batman without Robin?) He counted on me not to let him down, and I was incorporated into his world of all things important. I wish those days could have lasted longer because it’s a precious thing to be loved and needed like that.
My days of role-playing with Austin are done. I thank God for those times, because with his over active imagination they lasted for a few years. He’s in college now and I have a far different role to play in his life. He still needs me to love him for who he is, to always be there for him no matter what! He needs me to be no further than a phone call away and to know that he can count on me to help him in his time of need. I guess those are the same things I need from Jesus. But unlike Jesus, I will fail Austin from time to time, try as I might, I will likely fail him somewhere along the way. I can’t always be with him, help him, listen to him or protect him. I can’t fight his battles for him and may not always be there to fight along side him. But I can offer Austin (and Dalton) the one superhero who will never fail them, forsake them or let them down. I will NEVER desert you, nor will I EVER forsake you. Hebrews 13:5b Lucky for him, he has the real life action figure Jesus to be all of those things and more!
It’s a special relationship I have with my son. I have been blessed with two amazing boys, each presenting a completely different personality, but both uniquely precious. I know they are with me till the end. I may be crazier than they remember, I am more set in my ways, I still bug them from time to time, but they seem to understand. I just have this hope that when the day comes for me to go be with my real superhero that Batman may be there to turn me over to my new partner until he joins me later on down the line, after he has lived out his lifetime of crime fighting adventures.