The Nature of the Beast

I hate to disappoint all of you eschatology buffs, but this is not about eschatology. You might draw some parallels to the beast in Revelation, but he is not my focus tonight. In fact, this wasn’t the topic I was going to write on tonight until I was hooking up TVs at work today while the original Sandlot movie was on and there was a little kid watching it asking me questions.

If you remember that movie, it’s about a bunch of small boys who have a little team that plays in a sandlot. However, if a ball goes over the fence, it’s gone and no one retrieves it. Why? The beast lives back there. He’s this former junkyard dog who eats children and no one returns alive. This kid was watching it and asked “Why don’t they show the beast?”

I answered that that wasn’t in the nature of the beast. If you saw the beast for what it was, you wouldn’t be afraid of it. After all, later in the movie, one kid does jump over the fence to retrieve a ball and face the beast. He makes it back over, but the beast pursues him.

What happens at the end of the chase? They come back to the sandlot. The kid jumps over the fence, but the beast runs right through it and the poor fence can’t take it. It collapses onto the dog while the other kids watch and see it lying there in pain. One of them then goes and sees it hurting and tries to lift up the fence. He can’t do it alone, so the kid who was being chased comes and they lift it up and the dog runs off as soon as it’s free.

The dog comes to the first kid who tried to help him then and we see a scene of the kid looking at the dog in the face wondering what will happen next. Then the dog starts licking the kid playfully and runs off. They meet its owner and all ends well. At the end of the story, the dog is a kind of mascot watching the kids play ball.

What was the truth? Was the dog really this monstrous beast that ate 120 kids? No. He might as well have been though. The kids were afraid so they didn’t see the beast as it really was. When they did though, they saw that it was nothing to be afraid of and was actually a friend.

This is the way fear is for us. I went on a helicopter ride with my Dad Wednesday for his birthday. I’d never flown on one so I was quite nervous up until the point the chopper took off. I could feel my stomach turning and the anxiety creeping in and then something happened that destroyed all my fear.

The chopper took off.

Once I was flying, I saw that it was nothing and was able to enjoy myself. Why? Because I saw it as it was and not as I imagined it to be. Rest assured, your imagination can be a powerful tool for good or for evil. The point is not to eliminate emotion and imagination but to control them.

Peter Kreeft says we should view death this was where eventually, death is a lover. What was once a threat is gone. It is now what delivers us into the arms of Christ. Isn’t this what Paul says in quoting Hosea? He asks where the victory and sting of death is. They are gone! Why? We see death for what it is. Paul could look at it and say “To die is gain!” Who before Christ could really say that?

What’s the solution then? See the Beasts in your life for what it is. Yeah. Friends who knows me know I need to apply this myself. It’s something I’m working on. You pray for me that I can do so as I pray for you.

Together, we’ll overcome our beasts and maybe just like the kids in the sandlot, we’ll find in the end they were friends.

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