Have you ever identified with a fictional character? “Your head is sooo big. No wonder you love Charlie Brown!” My wife and daughters like to kid this fifty-something dude because of the size of my noggin. They were not referring to my ego, but my physicality.
When I watch the Peanuts cartoon on prime time, I feel for Charlie each time he takes a running start to kick a football and Lucy pulls it away, and he falls down. Who hasn’t had the rug pulled out from under them in life. Unlucky in love. Careers that didn’t work out. Yeah, I identify with Charlie Brown. But, he always got back up despite his disappointments.
However, I was shocked to discover that I had more in common with the real man behind Charlie: his creator, the late Charles Schulz. I didn’t realize it until I purchased A Charlie Brown Religion (exploring the spiritual life and work of Charles M. Schulz) by Stephen Lind.
As I read it, I thought I was looking in a mirror. Like me, Mr. Schulz was a shy boy with a keen sense of his aloneness. Like me, he loved hanging out with his grandma and he enjoyed sketching. But in high school he struggled with math. “This is getting scary!”
I turned another page as author Lind continued describing Mr. Schulz: “I worry about almost all there is in life to worry about,” he once said.” Like watching a horror movie, I peered at the next page thinking, “This is creepy!”
The similarities continued as I learned Mr. Schulz grew up and married a woman who already had a one year old daughter. “No way!” Even though Schulz avoided drinking etc. he still needed God’s grace. He accepted God’s invitation and became a Christian as the vain luxuries the world offered didn’t turn him on. He exercised his faith by giving to others in need and by teaching an adult Sunday school class periodically.
All of his traits hit close to home, but that is not what impressed me. He struggled with something I still struggle with. The whole juggling act of the secular and the sacred. The world and the church. Lind continues, “Not only had he unsuccessfully applied for work as an artist with the Walt Disney company, he had also set his sights on doing work for the church.”
It is so easy to fall into the trap of compartmentalizing everything. The Bible does not distinguish between the secular and the sacred. Speaker, and writer, Margaret Feinberg sums it up best: “When we fall into the mind-set that a ministry role-whether it is as a preacher or a church worker has more value than a secular role, we discount the real value of what God can do through his people.” I Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
How can you “creatively” share God’s light on the path you walk?
pictures courtesy of “Nelson & His Nikon”.