Extraordinary Measures

Posted: August 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

(July 25, 2010)

So tonight I watched Book of Eli. It’s a post-apocalyptic Denzel Washington flick about a guy named Eli (Denzel) who is on a mission to protect a priceless text form the clutches of evil. Now, if you haven’t seen the movie and are just dying to revel in all of the twists, turns, and Mad Max -esque action without any hint of spoiler, I’m going to try to do my best to not ruin it. But no promises. My mom can attest that I’m terrible at keeping spoilers at bay (and thanks to dad for acting surprised when he unwrapped last year’s Christmas presents).

I don’t want to make this a movie review of how spiritually relevant Book of Eli is or isn’t, or whether or not you should see it yourself. The flick is rated R, and rightfully so for language, violence, and scenes of intense post-apocalyptic action. So, take it over to Focus on the Family if you’re weighing the “should I see it?” pros and cons. For me, ignoring the dark content, I enjoyed it. Now on to the daunting task of telling you why, but without spoiling it or sounding like a review. No pressure.

Jumping right into the action here. Basically, the world has fallen into chaos after a devastating nuclear war that tears a bigger hole in the ozone layer and allows the sun to burn up the majority of the Earth and its inhabitants (I know, sounds like “An Inconvenient Truth 2: Electric Boogaloo” but it gets better, stay with me). Denzel Washington is in possession of the last surviving copy of the Bible, and God has tasked him to cary it west and protect it from evildoers that want to use it to control the ignorant masses. This much you find out in the first half hour or so after a few heads get lopped off, so no real spoilers.

Now, this alone is enough to earn Denzel’s character the determined buttkicker award, but it gets better. Denzel is being hunted by the evil Gary Oldman, who has a small army at his disposal to track down and kill Denzel so that Gary can use the Bible for his evil plans.

In a nutshell, Eli was faced with a life (and world) altering event. Not something that merely changed some people’s perspectives, but shifted the balance of the world. On a personal level, it left Eli alone, damaged him emotionally, physically, and altered him spiritually. Then, in the midst of chaos and heartache, God speaks to Eli and tells him that He has a plan of restoration, and that Eli is a part of it. God calls Eli to preserve His written word and help usher in God’s plan on Earth. Now, this seems like a lot for one guy, but when the voice of God speaks to you after the worst disaster to face humankind, you tend to listen.

After Eli’s encounter with God and his finding the last remaining copy of the Bible, he walks west. And we’re not talking like for months. Eli walks for 30 years. Walks. 30 years. Alone. Walking. Catch the severity there? I can’t even stand the trek down the stairs to the fridge. This guy is ranking up there in intensity points by the minute.

Throw some lovesick mercenaries, an impressionable young lass, and some epic gun fights into the picture, and you’ve got yourself the jist of this flick.

What struck me about this movie and this character Eli wasn’t his actions. It wasn’t his willingness to do whatever God said. It wasn’t his unrelenting resolve to finish his mission without compromise, turning down opportunity after opportunity to give up. Eli did what anyone in his position would have done.

What struck me about this movie was simply how realistic it all was.

No, not the part where the sun burns up the Earth. Not the armored ambulances with gatling guns mounted on top. Not the awesome ability for one man to face down a bar full of baddies and vanquish them all with a hand gun and a machete.

It was the part where God had to shake the very foundation of the Earth to get just ONE man to listen long enough to set himself apart for Gods plans before mans.

Think to your own life experiences and you’ll start to see a pattern. When does someone really begin to turn their life up a notch for God? When does that family member finally soften their heart and listen to what God has been trying to tell them for 20 years? What qualifies all those people with cool testimonies? You guessed it – something terrible happens.

Someone ruins their own life, someone close to them dies, they were involved in some terrible accident, ect. Take your pick. Nobody wants to follow God until something horrendous happens. Now, I don’t know if it’s just because it makes you a cooler Christian to have almost overdosed on crystal meth before you became a youth pastor or not, but this is definitely a recurring trend. Humanity feels like it must be violently thrust into the middle of adversity to be adequately equipped by God to do anything.

Somewhere around the vicinity of going to Sunday School because you win cool prizes and dumping your life savings into that Christian Singles dating website, we forgot that God wants to use us just where we are, just as we are, to have a rockin life full of Jesus adventures. Not because you’re a pawn in His sick game of cosmic chess, but because He loves you.

We are a miraculous creation. Fearfully and wonderfully made. For a purpose. And a big purpose at that. We just don’t seem to care unless it involves some really awesome hollywood storylines.

I think that the truest form of love and serving you can express to your Savior is not by rising to the occasion when everything was on the line, it’s by waking up every morning, telling Him you love Him, and living each day for Him the best way that you can. Not because the core of the Earth will stop rotating if you don’t, but because you want to. He died for you, the least you can do is live for Him.

The truth of the matter is that we are pretty cool all on our own. Even if you’re not trekking the country for 30 years on foot, even if you didn’t survive an apocalypse or a drug overdose for that matter, God kind of just loves you. And He wants to just do stuff with you now. He will give you awesome experiences with Him without you running your life into the ground. Just start with wanting to love Him.

Imagine a world where we sought the Lord and followed His words simply because we wanted to, and not because the fate of humankind depended on it (even though it kind of does).

When faced with world-changing circumstances, doing the extraordinary is nothing special. Toss the extraordinary into everyday events – now you’ve got some blockbuster material.

Christians, stop trying to be so cool. Leave that to Denzel Washington.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.'” (John 4:48)

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says YHWH, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

“And I—in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.” (Psalm 17:15)

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