Thursday, November 22, 2007
My family and I have had a nice Thanksgiving holiday relaxing (well, except for me having to do the cooking) and spending time together. We decided to watch Evan Almighty, starring Steve Carell as Evan and Morgan Freeman as God. God comes to Evan, a former news anchor (featured in the prequel Bruce Almighty as the babbling reporter) and tells him he wants him to build an ark. The movie was surprisingly effecting, a real family movie without cursing or potty humor, and wouldn't we all just love to have a visit from God as Morgan Freeman, a man who brings so much presence to every movie he is in.
Once scene in particular struck me about mid-way through the film. Evan's wife has taken the children and left him, believing he needs psychological help. In despair, she confides to a waiter at a restaurant (God in disguise) that her husband thinks he's Noah and she doesn't know what to do. They chat for a moment about the biblical story of Noah, and God informs Evan's wife that people get the point of that story wrong all the time. It isn't about God being angry, he tells her. It's a love story. Confused, the wife asks him how is it a love story?
God explains to her, very gently, that all the animals and Noah's family stayed together, side by side, throughout the difficult times they had to face. In her case, what he sees for her and her family is an opportunity. I'm paraphrasing here, but he tells her:
"Think about it this way. When people pray for patience, does God give it to them, or does he give them opportunities to be patient? When they pray for courage, does he just give it to them, or does he give them opportunities to be courageous? When they pray to be closer as a family, does he just give them warm, happy feelings about each other, or does he give them opportunities to love one another?"
Wow. That really struck me. Without struggle, how would we understand and appreciate success? Without trials, how would we appreciate the strength of character and willingness to persevere they give us? Without difficulties in our family or our marriages, how would we appreciate the opportunity to keep promises (love, honor, in sickness and in health, etc)?
So, on this Thanksgiving day, let me say thank you to God for the past couple of years. They've been hard ones, in some ways--loss of family, finances, job changes, health, you name it. We've been given opportunities to see what we are made of, to grow closer through surviving the tough times and come out together, to appreciate plenty by learning to sacrifice, to appreciate our health by experiencing illness. I thank Him most of all for giving me opportunities to love my family and friends, who deserve more than I'll ever be able to give them, but who love me anyway. Thank you, God, and thank you to everyone reading this.
In five more months, my first ever published book, The Legacy, will be on the shelves of bookstores everywhere. I thank Him for letting me live that dream, too.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!