Sunday, September 27, 2009

Reflections on Forrest Gump

Rick and I watched Forrest Gump last night. Each time I watch it I'm struck by Forrest Gump's brilliance. And this time the movie spoke to me in a new way.

Friday was one of those "Why am I writing?" days. Why am I adding more words to all the words that are already out there? All right, so the words have to come out, but other than that? Why blog? Why did I write a lengthy comment on John Piper's blog on the subject of Arminianism and Calvinism, and then another long clarification of the first one that nobody responded to? (That is an excellent question, come to think of it . . .)

Although God takes pains to try to keep my pride in check (not usually successfully, I might add), he's always there to life me up when I feel discouraged. And this time he used John 3:8, my blogging friend Becky, and Forrest Gump.

John 3:8 says: "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." Recently God has orchestrated a number of divine appointments in my life. He gives me just enough insight into a person to know what to say, and no more. Sometimes I have no idea what happens afterwards, although I always keep these people in my prayers. It's like God says to me: "All right, Anette, I have a small part for you to play here, and then I want you to exit at stage right."

But every now and then (like Friday) that frustrates me, because I want to know if anything I do or write makes a difference. Sometimes God humors me, but sometimes he just wants me to trust.

And this weekend he put everything in context. On Friday, Becky posted "A letter to yesterday's feather ," which I'm quoting in part:
dear feather...

Yesterday i thought it sad that you were captured by the wind, torn from the body of the bird from which you came. Today i think maybe it was a blessing in disguise. You seem alive only in that wind; without it you'd lie lifeless on the ground. It is the stream on which you sail. Yesterday i found you curled round that little yellow flower. And today, who knows? Maybe you're resting on the bark of an old twisted tree. And tomorrow, maybe you'll adorn the headdress of a child pretending to be an indian warrior. Maybe one day someone will find you and turn you into a pillow to bring comfort to their weary head? Unite you with a whole case of feathers again. Until then you are free to dance upon the breeze, be carried by a force outside yourself, given momentum by an invisible torrent of air . . . I wish you well little feather. Submit and ride with Him. 
That got me thinking about Forrest Gump and the feather at the beginning and end of the story. I love the juxtaposition of his simple, humble storytelling and the magnitude of the actual historical events. His listeners on the bench understand the historical context and so do we, but Forrest Gump understands only one thing: that every situation calls for him to do the right thing. That's what makes him so brilliant.

If we're led by the Holy Spirit, we are like Forrest Gump, going through life doing God's will without any idea of the significance of the events in which we play a role. And where God leads, the stakes are eternal and therefore infinitely more important than the events in the movie. God handpicks us for a particular encounter and gives us the right words, knowing that they are timely. What could be more important than that?

Like Forrest Gump, we have an audience which understands the significance of the smallest deed, if done with God's love and by his direction. Hebrews 12:1 tells us that we have a great, invisible "cloud of witnesses surrounding us," including departed heroes of the faith and angels. (Luke 15:10) They see past worldly distractions to the eternal soul at the center of the drama. They know, as C.S. Lewis said, that "nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat."

If we can eternally influence just one, our lives are not in vain.

And that's worth writing for.

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