Friday, July 11, 2014

Have You Seen The Song?

            I just went and saw the movie The Song.  (I saw it on 9-28, but posted it on an earlier date.)  There was only one other person in the theater with me.  What a shame.  It was a very well-done movie with emotionally-complex characters and a nice, thick storyline.  I love movies about life and relationships, especially when they are more complicated and thoughtful, like real life. 
            The movie leaves you feeling a bit emotional.  Heavy and light at the same time, hopeful and frustrated.  Oh, how that reflects how life feels.  Real life is not clean and straightforward and simplistic.  It is messy.  It is full of hopelessness and hope, joy and pain, broken and healed.  And this movie brought it all.  It felt like real life.
            Ebola, Isis, the erosion of religious freedoms, viruses, marital breakdowns, broken families, financial struggles, loneliness.  Unexpected blessings, moments of God’s grace, forgiveness, a deepening friendship, healings, sunrises and sunsets, bringing hope to others, watching your children laugh, hugging your spouse.  Life is so complex, so mixed up.  Good and bad.  Bad and good.
            As I watched the movie and became absorbed with the character’s lives, I really wanted a happy ending.  I wanted things to go well for them.  Isn’t this what we all want?  A happy ending?  Smooth sailing?  But life isn’t like that.  Trials happen.  People sin.  Hearts break.  Things get complicated.  Pain can come with the blessings and blessings can come out of the pain.  It’s never as simple, straightforward, and as clean as we want it to be.  We are all broken somehow.  We all have scars and pain we have to overcome and learn to live with. 
            As I drove away from the theater with the mixture of feelings about life and how messy it can be, I looked up and saw a hot air balloon almost glowing in the sunset.  And for some reason, something about that balloon made me feel like it was a little gift from God.  A glimpse of His glory, showing me that He is still here, watching over us, no matter how messy and complicated life is. 
            This reminds me of something I heard in my heart a couple weeks ago when I was feeling overwhelmed with all the tragedies and pain in the world: Ebola, Isis, viruses, disintegrating morals, broken families.  As I stressed about the condition of the world, I heard these four words in the quiet of my heart: “I haven’t lost control.” 
            He hasn’t lost control, no matter what is going on.  He hasn’t lost control, despite that fact that the world seems to be spinning out of control.  He hasn’t lost control!  And that is something we can take comfort in.
            I also recently saw the movie God’s Not Dead, another great, inspirational movie that more people need to see.  The end of the movie encouraged people to text this message to everyone they know: “God’s Not Dead!”  And I love that.  But what I loved even more was an interaction between the pastor and the missionary. 
            Several times throughout the movie, when circumstances were tough, the missionary would say to the discouraged pastor, “God is good!”
            And the pastor, even as he sighed heavily, would respond, “All the time.”
            “And all the time . . .” said the missionary.
            “God is good,” the pastor affirmed.
            This is something we Christians need to start doing, to be deliberate about encouraging others with this truth.  It is so easy to lose sight of God’s goodness in the midst of turmoil.  But, honestly, it is only by remembering that God is above all the mess, that He is good, and that He will work things out eventually that we can have the strength and hope we need to face the day.
            “God is good . . . all the time!”
            That hot air balloon gave me some hope.  It made me feel like, “Life is good.”  I mean, yes, life is bad.  Life is messy.  But . . . God is here and God is good.  And so life is good.  He is still in control.  He will redeem it all in the end.  And He walks with us through the mess, if we let Him and if we stay near Him. 
            As I continued to glance up at the balloon as I drove, it dawned on me that many of the people on the road probably missed the beautiful sight I got to see, simply because they were driving in the wrong direction or they didn’t bother to look up.  The hot air balloon was right there in plain view, offering a little joy and hope, but only to those who turned their face to it and looked up. 
            It’s the same with God, too!  Yet how many of us fail to find hope, joy, truth, love, and God’s blessing in the midst of the mess and the pain simply because we are facing the wrong way or because we are looking down at the messy world around us?  If you are confused, overwhelmed, hopeless, or in despair, the answer is more simple than you may realize: Turn around and look up!  He’s always right there, waiting to be found by those who want to find Him.

            James 4:8: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

            Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” 

            Deuteronomy 4:29:  “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

            Romans 10:9: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”