Saturday, September 01, 2007

Is Life a Crap Shoot?

We watched a bad movie over the weekend - "Facing the Giants" an overtly Christian movie about a football coach struggling with infertility, debt, a losing record and an unreliable car.

He coaches at Christian school. They can't win. His players do not have the best of attitudes, some toward academics and some toward their parents.

His car keeps dying on him and their house is falling apart with no finances for repairs.

When coach faces the fact that the inability for he and his wife to conceive lies with him, he falls down on his knees and cries out to God. This occurs after an elderly gentleman, who prays through the halls of the school everyday, delivers a scripture message to coach - God can open any door he chooses and close any door he chooses.

Coach's faith is renewed. He doesn't care about his losing streak. He only cares that his team glorifies God in all they do. The school's Bible class has a sort of revival. Students break down in the middle of class asking for forgiveness and a renewed desire to love and serve the Lord.

The football player who was disrespectful of his father asks coach to drive him to his father's office so he may ask for forgiveness. Their relationship is restored.
Coach's renewed faith translates into his coaching style. He begins expecting commitment and dedication from his players. He wants their best because they are playing to glorify God, not win.

Well guess what...they begin to win! Yep. It all turns around for them. The father who was reconciled to his son anonymously gives coach a brand new truck. Coach gets a $6000 raise. And...his wife gets pregnant.

Is that reality? I've been struggling with the message of this movie for the past week: Once you give your hopes/dreams/disappointments/life to God does stuff turn around and become everything you hoped for? I'm struggling because I think the answer is yes and no and I don't know how to wrap my brain around that.

I read the Old Testament and see when Israel fully relied on God stuff went well for them. But when they turned to pagan idol worship, stuff went sour. Now fast-forward to 2007 and the persecuted church. Thousands of believers in Iran, China, North Korea, India pray earnestly, seek wholeheartedly the Lord and what are their lives like - name-calling, unemployment, family disinheriting them, neighbors turning them in with false charges, death....

So how do the two reconcile? When a believer is fully given to God does God give everything the need/want? It seems from scripture and experience that God doesn't give what we want but what we need and sometimes that's a correct attitude - contentment - in the midst of the struggle. I was silently hoping, during the movie, but not expecting, the wife to remain without child - to demonstrate that sometimes the answer remains no. But I guess the producers didn't want to go in that direction.

Our place in life, occupation, relationships and material things in life are not dependent on our faith. That would place us higher than Him. We can't determine a person's faith by how healthy they are, how disciplined their kid's are, how smooth their life runs. Somehow this movie communicated the opposite to me.

Life is messy and life when given to God gets messier because He's weeding out those things that we depend on that are not Him-self, others, job, finances, health, looks, etc. In order for us to recognize when our dependence is not on Him, God gently strips those things away and we are left hanging, but not alone. When we come to the place where we fully depend on God we find, "Hey, I really can do without XYZ anyway? We see what's truly important and vital for a whole life.

AND...sometimes God blesses us abundantly with finances, health, great relationships, a job we love, neighbors we enjoy, peace. But I hope I recognize when and if those things come, it isn't because of me, what I've done. Because I see those things in lives who are not given to God. Is it a crap shoot? I don't know. I know when my attitude and relationship with the Creator is not based on those things then I have peace and don't care about those things.


regressivepresby said...

pretty high falutin' if you ask me...

Orrange said...

dude. we watched that movie last weekend too. we had no idea it was a christian movie BEFORE we watched it. Needless to say we snickered out way through most of it and I'm surprised we didn't turn it off. A wee bit cheezy to say the least.

Juloyes said...

i don't know--i thought it was sweet. and i think there ARE many things you're right about. you certainly made me think things through on it. in a way, it does promote a kind of "give it all to God and he'll give it all right back to you" mentality.

but on the other hand, so much of life is a struggle that I think the point of this movie was to show how God can provide even when everything feels impossible. I think it made me long for Christ to set all things right again. I mean, how wonderful for the Christian school, as a result of one man's faithful prayers and God's power, to return to a living, vibrant faith. and athletes who are more concerned with glofirying God than winning football games.

It think the movie makers were trying to have a positive movie, especially since so much out there is just depressing.

The movie was very well done. I hope to see more come out of this church that made it.

I Was Just Thinking.... said...

It was sweet, and predictable. I was hoping for more reality, I guess. But this is the quandry I'm in right now - I know God honors those who honor him, He provides what we need. And the emphasis is need. I just sometimes wonder if we Christians in the U.S. have a warped understanding of what our needs are (and I put myself in that camp!)
It would be wonderful to see a Christian community (church/school) turn in repentance like in the movie, I agree!
I think my exposure to the church world-wide has tamed my view on needs and wants.