Thursday, July 24, 2008

Can God use "Evan Almighty" to teach me something?

I was thinking back on the movie 'Evan Almighty' tonight. I know that there are critics out there who boo hoo such movies because they think that they somehow mock God; but, I truly believe that our God has a good sense of humor and that He probably doesn't get half as riled up over these movies as some of us Christians do. Personally, I thought that Bruce Almighty was hilarious and Evan Almighty, while not as funny, had a really good message behind it. My thought on the whole thing is that if either of these movies get people to think about our God or gets them curious about the stories in the Bible, then I'm all for it. We hardly have any movies out there, much less blockbuster movies, that even bring up the topic of God, Jesus or Christianity. Everyone is soooo concerned with offending someone or pushing our beliefs onto others. I figure, if you don't want to see it, don't buy the movie ticket. That's the great thing about America... you have the freedom to choose. Besides, I can't even count how many movies have offended me on the basis of violence alone; but, that doesn't stop anyone from making violent movies and you never get quite the uproar that you get when a movie about God or Jesus comes out in the theatre. I mean, regardless of your beliefs, I think that anyone would agree that the Bible's teachings are moral and that if people were to follow those teachings this world would be a better place (i.e. defend the widow, feed the orphans, love others, etc.) Even people I know who are of another faith, or no faith at all, believe that the Christian teachings are morally correct and that it's a good way to live your life.

Okay, so I've totally gotten off of the topic of Evan Almighty. I seem to have a tendency to do that- I start off on one topic and it carries me off into a completely different direction. Anywhooo... the reason I was thinking about that movie is because there is a conversation that "God" (Morgan Freeman) has with Steve Carrell's wife. A little background: Steve Carrell's character has accepted that he's the new Noah for this century and that he's to build an Ark and he's building it, regardless of what anyone else has to say. His wife becomes overwhelmed with not only her husband building a boat in their front yard, but he's also started wearing this brown tattered robe, his hair has gone white and it's grown long. So, she's taken the kids and left and she's at this restaurant, alone, and "God", looking like a busboy, comes up to her and asks her what's wrong. She explains the story to him and says something to the effect that she had prayed to God for her family to grow closer and they had just drifted further apart than ever before. "God's" response to her was:

"Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?"

Honestly, that moment in the movie was one of those 'aha' moments for me. I had never thought of it that way. I figured, I pray for faith, trust in God, patience and I just expected that God would automatically give me those characteristics or feelings. I couldn't understand why, when I pray for those things, things in my life wouldn't get better. If anything, I'd have more things to cause me anxiety, more things to cause me to feel impatient. I felt like, "God, was I not clear? I didn't ask for IMpatience, I asked for patience." (just in the event that He heard me incorrectly, I thought I should clarify :-) I was realizing that, typically, that is not the way God works. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the account of Abraham and Sarah's life. Abraham was promised to be the father of many nations and Sarah, although older and supposedly barren, was going to have a son named Isaac. But, God didn't immediately grant that promise to them. They had to wait year after year after year, and they had to make several mistakes along the way (one major one involving getting Sarah's maidservant Hagar pregnant to 'speed up the process', before they arrived at that time when God's promises to them were fulfilled. They had to develop their faith and trust in God's promises before those promises came to fruition.

"Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping- believing that he would become the father of many nations..... Abraham never wavered in believing God's promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham's faith, God counted him as righteous." Romans 4:18 & 20-22

God doesn't make us wait to punish us or to cause us anxiety. He does it because waiting, meaning you'll need to have patience and faith, develops our character. It makes us more Christ-like. If everything were to be handed to us as soon as it was promised, there would be no reason to have hope or faith because you don't need to have hope or faith in something that you already possess. But, by sharing with people, what we believe God's promises to us are (even when we have no reason to believe so), we are able to glorify Him when others see the 'impossible' become the possible - they have to admit that this promise couldn't have come true without God being right in the middle of it all.

I can say, personally, that I've prayed a long time to have more trust and faith in the Lord and, at one point in time, I thought that He wasn't answering those prayers. Now, I know that He is answering those prayers through those "opportunities" He places in my life. Opportunities to be more patient, to have more faith and to be more trusting of God and His perfect plan for my life. Sometimes (probably more often than not) I wish that He would just 'zap' me with those characteristics, but it would be pretty hard to have more faith in
God when I've never had to have faith in the first place, rather, it was just handed to me. Besides, I have to admit that most of those 'opportunities' that have come into my life, to help me grow in character, have actually resulted in getting closer to my family and friends, developing completely new friendships, and going places I never thought that I'd go and that's really not so bad :-)


Sara Warren said...

We just saw that movie recently and I too loved that scene between Morgan Freeman and the wife. It was nice to see a good Christian message be shared in a well known movie. That's a rarity with all the media today.

We just saw the movie Mamma Mia and the daughter has a bathing suit scene and she was actually wearing a modest one-piece bathing suit. I was so thrilled to not see a tee-niny bikini on the young girl. Sometimes media can surprise us for the better, I guess.