I just watched the movie Soul Surfer this morning. It had been our Netflix movie on the counter for a couple weeks now and I decided it needed to be watched and sent back. I knew the jist of what the movie was about but I think I was a bit surprised that it also had a religious angle to it…hence the ‘soul’ in Soul Surfer I’m sure! When I first realized there would be religion in this flick, I grumbled. I have nothing against religion, in general, but I get really tired of bad theology…especially bad theology in movies. An example of what I would consider to be bad theology in a movie is Facing the Giants. Not a bad movie necessarily, but when they start winning games they attribute it to God. God helps them win. Now, I do believe that God gives us strength, God fills us with peace, and that through God we can achieve the impossible. BUT, I do not think God is going to ‘make’ one team win a game at the expense of the other team losing. It all has to do with the question, “Who’s side is God on?” And I hope the answer is ‘everyone’s!’
[As a side note, I am also a football fan and to my husband’s dismay (he’s not into sports…which is just strange to me) I watch as much football as I can on weekends (which usually only amounts to a couple of full games). I always grumble a little at the end of games, or after a touchdown, when players point to the sky. In particular from this weekend, it was Ben Roethlesburger, the quarter back for the Steelers. I try not to be judgmental because I really have no idea who exactly they are pointing to (it could be lost loved one) or what they are saying. I think God appreciates being acknowledged whatever the circumstances.]
In the movie Soul Surfer, Bethany has to deal with a horrific accident that completely changes her life. She’s a kid with a dream and in an instant that dream is threatened, and in fact, the dream she had before the accident took a lot longer to achieve and a ton more hard work on her part. Through all of it, even before the accident, she believed in God and attended her youth group. So this wasn’t a movie about ‘coming to God and things turning out okay.’ In no way was her life or circumstances made ‘easier’ because she believed in God. Nothing was handed to her. Nothing fell out of the sky. What I really liked about the movie is that God was there all along waiting for Bethany to realize what was next and to go for it! And there was no one right answer as far as I’m concerned. Just watching how the movie unfolded there are several ways that Bethany could have overcome her circumstances and whichever one she chose would have been awesome. (I’m really trying not to ruin the movie for anyone in case you haven’t watched it.). It really reminds me of a quote by on of my favorite theologians, Frederick Buechner, (and I’ll paraphrase here) “your true calling in life is where your greatest desire meets the worlds greatest need.”
We all have tons of desires of what we want to do in life and the world is certainly full of needs. The world needs good teachers, honest politicians, faithful sales clerks, business owners willing to hire ex convicts, caring physicians, and the list goes on. Where do your desires meet the world’s needs? Remember that God is not disappointed in where you have been, but God is waiting patiently and excitedly for you to realize what might be next!