Lessons on Emptiness from the Movie 300
It is said that in heat of battle, a soldier fights not for country but for brother soldier. Yet if not for home and freedom, the soldier would not train for battle or go to war in the first place.
I appreciate the war movies which illustrate both, whether with the credibility of We Were Soldiers, or in the fantasy historical 300. In the latter, all of value to the men—sons, land, freedom—is represented in their women. The Persian enemy threatened, “We will make your women, your children our slaves.” Such taunts solidified the Spartans’ resolve to fight.
The queen of Spartan king Leonidas did not go with him to battlefield, but fought for him from her place at home, bolstered by the esteem He’d shown her. She was privy to talks with foreign diplomat—a man slain by Leonidas for insults capped with disdain for his queen. In hour of decision, after consulting others, Leonidas came to her who knew him best, and she articulated the cause in his heart: “Fight not as a king ... fight as a free man.” For his cause she sacrificed her dignity to a traitor yet remained above degradation. She appealed with eloquence to the council authority who could give her king support. Leonidas took courage in death with the words, “My queen, my wife, my love.” When the time came to lay down his life, the message he sent was the simple request, “Remember me.”
Call me a naïve romantic or out of date for my perspective. In this world, a woman’s foremost purpose is still as champion of the men in her life—be they father, son, brother, husband—empowering them with respect, sacrificial action, worthy words. A man’s foremost purpose is esteeming the love of his life and everything of value she represents with the laying down of his life, whether with his blood or in day to day sacrifice. Neither death nor degradation should threaten our resolve.
Is it possible that we live with emptiness in our souls because we seek to fulfill ourselves in lesser purposes?
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
~ Ephesians 5:31-33 (NKJV)
There is a far greater reason for the soul’s emptiness—its God-shaped void.
Temporal romance awakens us to the divine romance. This love story is of the mighty Prince Who creates a magnificent home for the love of His life. He patiently woos His love for many years, and finally betroths her to Himself by defeating with His shed blood the evil dragon which has long tormented her. He asks as He lays down His life, "Remember Me."
We are the love of His life, and our purpose is to be constant champions of His cause, shown in our great respect for Him, sacrificial action, words of appeal to the authority of the Father. The world may degrade us, yet if we are humble we remain above it.
We feel emptiness when we seek fulfillment apart from the cause of our King. We also feel emptiness in separation from our King. But unlike the queen of King Leonidas, we are assured of our Lord's return, and He remains with us through His Holy Spirit.
They said to the LORD, "We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray." So they turned from their idols and served the LORD. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of His people.
~ Judges 10:15-16 (author paraphrase)
I believe that God’s great love for us creates a humanity-shaped void in His soul. I believe He knows misery in His soul in our separation from Him. It begins to be satisfied when we are reconciled to Him, and give His Spirit a home in our hearts.
But until the day all separation ends, our God shares our emptiness.
This post is dedicated to all the military and civilian personnel who have given their lives to protect us and our freedoms. They have my profound gratitude, on Memorial Day and every day.
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Image from the movie 300, © 2006 Warner Brothers Pictures