I love movies. I always have, as long as I can remember. At risk of showing my age, I can think back to the first movie I attended with my family; it was “The Shaggy D.A.”, and we watched it at the drive-in from our car in the little town of DeQueen, AR. I was instantly hooked, and went back there many times to see other movies, even had a few dates there!
One of the things that I love to do now is share great movies with people that have not yet seen them. As I get to know someone new, I will ask them, “Have you seen _______ movie?” I have favorites that I always ask about; The Princess Bride, Raising Arizona, Wally, The Truman Show (see picture above). I have so many favorites it is hard to decide what to mention here. Anyway, I drive my wife and family crazy by running through the entire list when we have new folks over at our house.
What I then love to do is pick something they haven’t seen and watch it with them! I love knowing what is happening next, down to the specific dialogue, and waiting to see how much they enjoy it. I think it is because I want the joy of seeing the movie again, but even more, I want to remember how great it was the first time I saw it, and I can live vicariously through them as they watch it. I should tell you, some people love this and really get into it, and others are quite annoyed by my enthusiasm and excitement. Don’t worry about my feelings, this is true for me in many aspects of my life, so I have grown accustomed to it.
The thing I have noticed as I have done this over the years, is how down these folks can get when the hero is whipped or defeated about halfway through the movie. It is so depressing for some that they will say, “Just turn it off.” And then I bless their life so much by telling them, “Trust me, you do not want to quit watching. It gets a lot better!” The interesting thing I have noticed is, while I get just as excited at the good parts as I have before, I never get as low in the bad parts as I did the first time I saw it. I know what is going to happen. I know how it ends.
Much like we might watch our favorite movie again and again, we who love God’s word like to read the same stories over and over again. We love the exciting parts, and we know that even when the hero seems down, that is not the end of the story. I think we also like to share those stories with others, or at least we should. We want them to hear what is happening and we want them to react as we did when we first learned that Jesus does not stay in the grave, (spoiler alert) but triumphantly rises from the dead in 3 days! This makes it better than any movie ever made, because this story can change our lives eternally.
Here is the thing I have learned as I have continued to study that has changed how I read God’s word…
The people in Bible stories actually had no idea how their personal story would end!
They might have been told they would be fine, or that God’s will would be accomplished, but the thing that allowed them to do what they were told was, FAITH. Faith is the basic component that is required of each of us as we live and move forward the story that is our lives. We, just like the people we read about, have no idea what is going to happen next.
So, how do we do it? How can we do what is right, what God is telling us to do and increase our faith so that we can face whatever challenge our “movie” may be showing us next as we live here on this planet?
Look at Daniel 3. There are 3 guys dealing with a tough moment in their movie. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that if they did not follow the “law” that said they had to worship the image of gold that serious consequences would follow. So, they did what God told them to do and they refused to worship the image. Upon hearing this, the King became angry and demanded they be held accountable for their behavior.
You know this story. You heard it growing up. You know how it ends. If you don’t, read it again in Daniel 3. The point is, you are not the least bit concerned for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. You are relaxed. You tell it to others and to children, almost smiling as you talk about the fire being so hot that people could not even get close to it. You become animated as you indicate with great flourish how they then threw these men into this dangerous inferno. You are calm because you know the ending.
It is easy to begin to think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew what was going to happen as well. It is easy to think that they realized they would end up immortalized in scripture, so they were obedient and faithful even though the fire was really hot.
The truth is, they did not know what would happen. I love it how they say in Daniel 3:17-18, “If we are thrown into that furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it and he will rescue us from your hand o King. But, even if he does not…”
Even if He does not. Even if God does not do what we are asking Him to do. Even if this does not work out the way that I have planned it out in my mind. Even if I am fired from my job and some folks are mad at me over my decision. Even if our kid doesn’t get to play in the game because she refused to attend a practice that conflicted with Bible study. Even if none of my coworkers understand when I will not do something that is ethically questionable. Even if we lose someone we love to disease, after we have asked God to heal them. Even if God does something that I can’t explain, we will still not follow after the world and do what “it” tells us that we must do to get along.
Do we, as God’s people, have a large enough view of our situation and circumstances that we can see that God is working things out for His people? This is one of the great blessings of scripture. We see all of these stories unfolding before us and we learn that regardless of how the story ends, God is taking care of the entire thing. God is taking care of His people. And, even if He does not rescue us from the immediate trouble we are in, He is still taking care of us.
We should grow our confidence and our ability to handle situations with more of a “heavenly” view of the situation. We should say “no” to things that weaken our faith or jeopardize our walk with God. We should reject choices that cause us to act in a worldly manner, or influence the others around us to abandon God for even brief periods so that we can “get along” in this world.
We can “grow up” and do better. We can start to say, “God, I know you can do this. But, even if you do not…” I will still remain faithful.
Because that is our work. “Be faithful unto death” – Revelation 2:10.
We can do it. It will help the end of our “movie” be the most awesome part.