“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known (I Corinthians 13:11-12).”
Conor Sullivan is a high school lacrosse player with an attitude. When his life begins to fall apart, his attitude doesn’t get any better. In fact, it falls apart with his life.
As portrayed in the movie “A Warrior’s Heart” Conor is a star attack man for a west coast team when his military officer father, just back from Irag, gets transferred to the east coast. Conor, his mother and his brother go with him.
Conor’s Dad enrolls him in a posh private school, the one he attended and where he himself played lacrosse. Although the coach and Conor’s Dad don’t get along (the latter stole the former’s girlfriend, now Conor’s mother), the coach agrees to at least give the boy a look. No promises, though.
Even though Conor’s Dad tells him to go into the situation with humility, Conor enters the locker room as if he were God’s gift to lacrosse. Conor less than politely tells the boy holding the position he plays that he will be losing it to him.
Conor already has a temper, and when his father is sent back to Iraq and killed in combat, it explodes. When given a hard check on the f ield, he doesn’t respond in kind. Conor seeks to hurt.
Conor eventually gets tossed from the team due to his unsportsmanlike ways. On his way out, he destroys the school’s trophy case, including the awards given to his Dad’s team.
This last act lands Conor in jail. However, he is retrieved from his cell by a soldier who served with his father, Sgt. Major Duke Wayne.
Sgt. Wayne doesn’t get Conor out of the hoosegow to coddle him, though. American Indian Duke takes him out to a lacrosse camp run by his tribe.
However, Conor doesn’t see lacrosse for a while. Sgt. Wayne has him tear down an old shack with a sledge hammer for an entire week.
At one point Conor complains he is getting blisters. Duke just laughs at him. He also stays on the boy to get the job done.
Conor assumes that this whole job is just some metaphor meant to show him the error of his ways. Duke doesn’t own up to any of Conor’s thinking.
In fact, he communicates very little. He just tells Conor,”Don’t speak unless spoken to.”
After his week of shed ripping, Conor plays in a game with counselors and others at the camp. The rough stuff in this game is nothing like he has encountered before, and at one point Duke puts a hold on him that causes him to lose consciousness. Conor wakes up alone on the field.
Eventually, Sgt. Major Wayne drives Conor home. He is warmly greeted by his family, but no so much by the players on his prep school team.
However, when the school makes it to the national title game against Conor’s former west coast team, the players insist that to the coach that he be allowed to participate. He is talented after all, and also has won them over somehow.
Of course, we all know how this ends. Conor is the hero of the game, and indeed has seemingly learned his lesson. Even though he is roughed up during the context, he doesn’t respond in kind.
As the movie closes, he is still checking in with Sgt. Major Wayne about the purpose of the rough treatment at camp. “Was it a metaphor?”, Conor asks. Wayne refuses to respond, leaving Conor clueless.
Speaking of metaphor’s, I believe Conor’s experience is very much like ours in the Christian life. God gives us a hard situation and we assume we know exactly what He has in mind. We always seem to think we have to learn something from our trials, especially if we think our suffering is self inflicted.
This thinking is really just our attempt to make sense of what has happened to us. We are trying to put the God if the universe into our mental box.
What is scary is that this effort is not just a waste of time. It actually leads us further away from the truth.
Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22,23)
The truth is that in this life we don’t see so well. We think we know, but our view of reality is skewered by our upbringing, experiences, sinful natures and just place mental denseness.
Our attitude is the ultimate in hubris. Ultimately, if what we are going through is to teach us anything, it is to depend completely on the wisdom of our Coach, Jesus Christ. Our task is to just get the job done, which is done by just doing what He tells us to do.
We need to leave the “whys and wherefores” to Him.