I am a total Harry Potter fan. I have read every book (multiple times) and frequently find myself pondering one brilliantly penned scene or another. Recently, I found myself contemplating the complexity of a scene at the end of book three. A swarm of dementors are descending upon Harry and his friends, ready to deliver the “dementor’s kiss” – an act where the dementors suck the very soul out of their victim. Suddenly, a lone figure from across the lake fires his wand and scatters the dementors. In the glow of the firing wand, Harry sees the face of their rescuer, and thinks it is his dead father. As impossible as he knows that is, he cannot shake what he saw. It looked like his dad.
The story progresses in that wonderful J. K. Rowling manner, and a couple of chapters later we find Harry travelled back in time and watching these same events unfold from the other side of the lake. He is now only steps away from where their rescuer had appeared, and he still cannot shake the thought that it was his dad. Despite the dangers of being seen in his back-in-time state, he creeps forward to look. He watches from his hiding spot as the dementors swarm upon his earlier self across the lake. Any second their rescuer will appear. He knows it will happen because it has already happened. But where is he?
Harry watches as the light across the lake flickers and fades. Still, no one appears to rescue them. The dementors are leaning in, Harry and his friends have completely succumbed, they are seconds away from receiving the dementor’s kiss…
And suddenly Harry realizes: it was him that rescued their earlier selves! It was him he saw from across the lake and thought it was his father. And leaping to his feet, he draws his wand and shoots the powerful rays that scatter the dementors. All along he had been waiting, but it was him that had to do it.
Have you ever watched as something needing to be done sat untended? Or waited for someone who never showed? Did it ever occur to you that it was you who was being called to act?
Maybe we don’t have to fend off dementors, but there are certainly times when it feels like it. There are times when we would really like someone else to come along and rescue us. But we can learn something from this fantasy tale. Even at the point when the dementors were descending, Harry was also standing safe across the lake. Even as he saw the light flicker, he knew their rescuer would come to save them, because their rescuer already had.
So, too, are we already saved. Maybe we can’t travel back in time to save ourselves, but there is Someone else who can. And already has. Our God has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die upon a cross and thus pay in full the debt of our sin. Because of Jesus, we can be assured of our safety. Even when we are crushed under the weight of the world, we know that in the end we will be saved. Our job in the meantime is to get through it. Our job is to do the task at hand.
The Bible tells us that God has prepared in advance good works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Sometimes this is carefree acts of every day life. Sometimes this is lonely acts of desperation. We may not always know what work is at hand, but God does. And he will place us in the exact right place at the exact right time, ready for us to act. Jesus has already done the saving, but when it is time for the wand to be fired, you will be there, assured of your safety, wand in hand. You just need to recognize, when there is no one else showing up, that it is up to you to do it.
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might… (Ecclesiastes 9:10)