I’ve seen Bruce Almighty twice now. I admit I was one of the people who saw the preview and thought there may be a little sacrilege going on. But when the need to laugh overcame my friend and I this weekend, I decided to give it a try without much thought of the sacrilege. Glad I did because the film blew me away. Bruce (Jim Carey), who is nearing 40, rages at God as one thing after another begins to unravel in his life. He blames God and says that God is doing this to him on purpose, and God hears him. He grants Bruce His powers, ultimately to show him that to have the power of the Almighty is not as easy as it looks—especially when God refuses to intrude upon our freewill, even as He’s desperate for us to know how much He loves us.
Bruce uses the almighty powers to take revenge, see a little skin and part a bowl of tomato soup like the Red Sea. It’s at this point that God (Morgan Freeman) shows up in the diner, looks at Bruce and says, “Come, take a closer walk with me.” The tenderness in those words surprised me and made me happy that this movie had been made. If and when you see the movie, you’ll find many more scenes—some hilarious, some raw, some profound, some sweet—that wash over you with the phenomenal, yet familiar, love of Jesus. I love the fact that some truth will be shining through the laughter and words and rolling into each mind or heart in the audience. Perhaps a small seed planted by God will help them wonder, hunger or reach out someday, somewhere.
Plato said this in his description of God: “Truth is His body, and light His shadow.” The way I see it, just as the smallest beam of light is easily found in a pitch-black room, so the truth shines through the darkness these days in film, music and literature. Don’t knock it. One of my favorite glimmers of truth is a scene in the movie Stigmata where a man named Petrocelli is standing in an ornate church with Father Kiernan (played by Gabriel Byrne) and says to him, “Look around, Father. What do you see?” “I see a church,” Father Kiernan answers. “It’s a building. The true church of Jesus Christ is so much more,” Petrocelli says.
“Not in buildings made of wood and stone. I love Jesus! I don’t need an institution between Him and me. You see, just God.” Every time I hear the chorus of the song “Here With Me” by Dido I think of Jesus’ love and longing for me and for everyone who doesn’t know His love yet: I won’t go, I won’t sleep/ I can’t breathe until you’re resting here with me/ I won’t leave, I can’t hide, I cannot be/ Until you’re resting here with me. He speaks to me through it and reminds me of His relentless pursuit of us. My heart aches for Him and is tenderized with the Truth through the music and the words. In the book Life After God, Douglas Coupland (also the author of the fiction book Generation X, where the phrase which now daily describes a generation was born) wrote, “Now—here is my secret.
I tell it to you with the openness of heart that I doubt I shall ever achieve again, so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words. My secret is that I need God—that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem to be capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love.” What is my point? My point is the same as Plato’s—Jesus is truth. Seek Him in the theater and on the radio. In a book, a magazine, a conversation or in creation—when you’re sitting on your front porch listening to the crickets make their music while the breeze moves over your skin or in conversation with strangers at a bar or over coffee with friends. Only God knows where each heart is on the journey toward Him. Watch for Him.
The truth can’t help but seep out of things we do, films we make, words we speak, hope we give. The truth is like a tiny beam of light in a stadium full of darkness. I am convinced that not only does Jesus mean He is the Light to shine out of us but to shine on things for us—to light our way and show us Himself where He is to be found. So whether you’re chatting with a co-worker, a waitress or a movie star, whether you’re watching Bruce Almighty, X-Men 2, Magnolia or Stigmata or listening to Linkin Park, Dido, Faithless, Disturbed, Coldplay or U2, listen. “Come, take a closer walk with me.” “For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light” (Psalms 36:9).
[Shannon has worked as a cashier, at a book publishing company and as a missionary (in England), and she now spends her days in an office with a bunch of lawyers. Mostly, she writes, laughs, dreams and wrestles (with God).]
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