Anyone remember the story of Pat Tillman? NFL star who shed his fame and millions for an Army Uniform in the post 9-11 era. I think the thing that always struck me about this was how he exchanged a shadow for reality. Keep reading and I think you’ll see what I mean. War is used as a frequent analogy for much lesser things. Sports for example often pits man against man in a physical match of speed, strength, and skill. Politics is often frequented with war terminology as two sides often wrestle for control of the political landscape. However, in all these scenarios they are but shadows. And humans for some reason, love their shadows.
We will start this article of with a look into the absurd. If sports are meant to be a shadow or mimic of war, then paintball and Call of Duty warriors throughout the world dwell in the armpit of the shadow. Look, its not that I wouldn’t enjoy paintball, although for some reason I never play it. Moreover, I have been known to pick up an Xbox controller and play a game of Call of Duty from time to time. However, it also strikes me, people enjoy these games because they are a shadow of something more compelling.
I honestly think there is nothing more amusing for a war veteran than to play a little Call of Duty online and listen to the comments. I am quite horrible at the game to be honest, but despite having actually survived a war, I am frequently mocked by 12 years olds and other gamers on my poor tactics. Its humorous really. I even had one guy tell me I would never survive a real war because of my inability to go prone or fire while leaping constantly in the air. I didn’t bother to reply.
In addition, paintball warriors leaping from inflatable boundary to inflatable boundary often feel they are getting the rush of combat. However, I assure both the Xbox and paintball warrior that when you hear the snap and crack of a real bullet coming down range at you, you get a little less Rambo as the pucker factor hits a high 10. After all, remember its a shadow, not a reality. More than a shadow, its a frivolous absurd hint at a shadow. But still fun though. So enjoy if you like, but keep it perspective Call of Duty warriors and perhaps drop the Twinkies and Ho Ho’s to do a few push ups every now and then.
Sports are a worthy venture. Truly they are. They are fun to engage in, help us get in physical shape, and if excelled at enough, can actually make you millions. Now I enjoy fantasy football, but lets go ahead and be honest that fantasy football belongs in the absurd category. You can brag about your fantasy prowess all you want but you are but a jockey riding the backs of real athletes. However, sports can take on a noble shadow of war.
Now keep in mind, I still said shadow. Granted, I am not going to argue this point out with Ray Lewis in a dark alleyway, but it is still a shadow. So I don’t get upset when people use war metaphors to describe a rough football game, but let’s not go so far as to state equality as opposed to metaphor. So this is what really struck me about Pat Tillman. He was living a better paid shadow version of service, but he traded it all in for reality.
Pat Tillman died in Afghanistan an Army Ranger. Regardless of the controversies surrounding the story of his death, he died a hero. He exchanged a luxurious life in the shadows for the sand and grit of reality. He did what many Americans would not. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t meet too many billionaire or millionaire kids in the Marine Corps. If they did sign up, I’m pretty sure daddy made sure they didn’t join the grunts.
Now if you are new to this blog you may or may not be aware that I am an unashamed follower of Christ. I don’t write about it every day, but where appropriate, I don’t in the least run from it. For all this talk of shadows and reality remind me often that according to the bible, all things on this earth and even war itself cry out to a greater reality. The Bible claims that regardless of our fallen state, through faith and repentance, Jesus takes us and gives us his own righteousness so that we stand blameless before God himself.
The Bible then goes on further to state that not only are we blameless before God, but that we are joint heirs with Christ. That concept blows my mind. See my article, The Folly of Fearing Creation Alone. One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes goes as follows: “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” From his book, The Weight of Glory. The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics
Tomorrow and the Future
So can’t help but wonder why I have this propensity to satisfy myself with shadows of reality rather than that which ultimately matters. That which lasts. I don’t think its far fetched to say that all humans have this condition. Its fascinating really and its not just limited to the spiritual. People long for the thrill of war, so they spend countless hours, days, and months working out their thumbs on the Xbox while true warriors risk it all on the battlefield. People of influence satisfy all the pleasures of success and flesh while others such as Pat Tillman forgo it all to taste the reality of sacrifice.
Then all of us, everyone of us, in our physical condition, continually dance about in the shadows of a greater and eternal reality to come. If the Bible is to believed and we are indeed to stand before God, I have a nagging suspicion we will see all these earthly delights for what they always were. Shadows. Every last one of them. Shadows.
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