Like many of you, I grew up watching the Peanuts specials on TV year after year. When we had children, my husband and I introduced them to the Peanuts TV specials and they quickly became favorites of theirs as well. It wasn’t long before they were quoting lines from the shows. In fact, my son, now age 30, can often be heard saying, “Rats!” when he makes a mistake or something is going wrong. Every time I hear him say that, it brings to mind one of my favorite memories of his childhood. We had gone to the library, and he went to the checkout with a stack of books almost too big for his little 6-year-old arms to carry. As I watched him check them out, I was surprised to see they were all Peanuts books. I remember thinking to myself that he was too young to be able to read those, but he was so excited that I didn’t say anything and just let him get them. Upon arriving home, I went to the kitchen to get lunch ready. All of a sudden I heard one giggle, then another and another. Wanting to find out what was happening, I stood at the bottom of the stairs and just listened. The giggling and chuckling continued until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I crept up the stairs as silently as possible and peeked into my son’s room. There he was, sitting at his desk, with one of his precious Peanuts books open, reading the comic strips and laughing. Those giggles are burned in my memory and I have a simple comic strip to thank for that.
Both of my children really enjoyed Peanuts and now that my daughter has children, she is sharing her love for Charlie Brown and the gang with her children too. I really believe my children learned a lot about life from watching the Peanuts specials and reading the comic strips. They learned how to be a good friend from Linus and how to handle disappointment from Charlie Brown, among other things. Even as adults, there are things we can learn from the Peanuts gang.
One thing that used to confuse my children was the football incident. Now, I know you know what I’m talking about. Every fall, Lucy convinces Charlie Brown to run full-speed toward her to kick a football. She convinces him that this year, she will not move it. She’ll hold it steady for him so he can kick it. And every year, Charlie Brown falls for the trick, literally. He runs as fast as he can toward that football, thinking to himself that this year he’s finally going to get to kick it. And every year, Lucy pulls the football away at the last second and Charlie Brown falls flat on his back. Good grief! My children would ask me why Charlie Brown would believe her, when every other time she moved the ball. And that’s what most people would focus on. They’d laugh at Charlie Brown and his foolishness. They’d say he shouldn’t have believed her. And maybe he shouldn’t have, but we can learn something very important here from Charlie Brown.
Charlie Brown never lost hope in the ability for Lucy to change and keep her word. He knew what she’d done in the past, but he hoped for better from her in the future. That’s a quality I want to cultivate in my own life. As a Christian, I believe that God wants us to always look for the good in people, that’s what He does. Jesus looked at Peter, with all of his brashness, outspokenness and rash actions and saw a leader for His church. Even after Peter denied knowing Christ three times, He tasked him with feeding His sheep – taking care of His church. Jesus sees us where we are and loves us, but knowing what we can become, He is not content to leave us there. He develops us into the follower of Christ that He knows we can be, through circumstances, people and day to day struggles. He gives us every opportunity to grow and change, we just need to want to.
Just as Charlie Brown never lost hope in Lucy’s ability to change and grow, the Lord never loses hope in our ability to change and grow. So, what’s it going to be? Are we going to continue to do the same things over and over and remain in the state we are now? Or are we going to make the decision, starting today, to change, grow in our faith and become more like Jesus with each passing day? Because for us to see the potential in others and love them in spite of their faults, calling them to something more, we have to be on that road ourselves. It’s time to stop pulling the football away and start growing and changing so we can see people clearly, through the eyes of Jesus. If we can do that, then we will grow into the person of God that we were designed to be and we’ll be able to help others to achieve their God-given potential as well. I’m ready to take the first step, what about you?