Saturday, May 2, 2020

The Mirror: Failure

Saturday night in our home is family movie night. We take turns selecting a film, which we agreed beforehand we would either like, love or hate without criticizing the person who chose it. For my wife and daughter, I provide a selection to help them choose. (Yes, I know this means that I am in effect choosing the movie, but you're missing the point.)

Last week we watched Evan Almighty which we all enjoyed for the laughs as well as the positive message about obeying God and trusting him even when you don't feel like, when people around you don't get it or when the circumstances seem to dictate that your trust has been misplaced.

This week we watched All Saints starring John Corbett of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame. Also based on a true story, although much more closely aligned to the actual characters and events than Evan Almighty, All Saints is the name of a church which is about to be closed because it isn't financially viable. It only has a handful of members, so the decision has been made to sell it. John Corbett plays Michael Spurlock, the Anglican minister sent to All Saints to oversee its closure.

A large number of Kareni refugees turn up at the church, needing help and declaring themselves Anglicans. Spurlock feels he has to do all he can to help them. One night, he hears God telling him to save the church by turning it into a farm.

The film has a happy ending, but perhaps not what you would expect. I found myself again reflecting on how the world measures success compared with how God measures it. The truth is that what looks like a failure can actually be a great success. What looks and feels like suffering and hardship can be achieving a positive work of renewal. What feels like a waste of time for you can bear great fruit for someone else, and perhaps not until much further down the track.

All Saints church wasn't making money, but God wasn't even remotely concerned with that. His goal was to break down prejudice, build a community and do some healing work on individual hearts. God told Evan to build an ark, but it wasn't about the ark; it was about shaping Evan's character, transforming him through an extraordinary experience into a better man. However, sometimes the experiences don't need to be extraordinary. To the teachable soul, even mundane occurrences contain revelation.

We humans are rebellious by nature, but even our recalcitrance, our resistance, our lack of humility, can be used by God for our good and his glory. God's plans don't get thwarted by our stubbornness. He doesn't get surprise or shocked by what we do or don't do. He never says "I didn't see that one coming."

Our safe place is complete dependence on him. The words of the old hymn are ringing in my head "Trust and obey, for there's no other way..." When we do this, it does not matter what the situation looks like or how we feel about it, it's okay because God is good. Everything happens the way it is supposed to, when it is supposed to because God is sovereign.

Evan Baxter and Michael Spurlock both discovered this truth, and you can too. Just listen.

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