This post will have two openings. First, I'd like to clarify myself on Christian movies before I get started. Christian movies are easy to bag on. They usually have poor acting, a simple story line and usually a TV star from the 80s that may or may not be a Christian but definitely needs a paycheck. We simply cannot fault non-Christians for not watching most of these movies. I do think that they hold a special place for Christians because of the specifically Christian message they can tell. I do think "non-Christian movies" can also tell specifically Christian messages but we'll get to that with my review of Winnie the Pooh next week...
Facing the Giants is one of those that I don't know how much of an impact it had outside of the church but it is definitely a movie that has had a lot of reach inside of the church. It's a story full of hope, the power of prayer and the desire to see God do big things. It's also a film that drives me crazy.
Now, for the second beginning of this post... I payed attention to the Women's World Cup long before it was trendy to do so (ok, maybe when Sports Illustrated told me a week or so before that it was happening) and I had been following the US team pretty faithfully. Unlike men's soccer, the women's team actually has a good chance of doing well in the World Cup so it's a chance to see good soccer and watch America be successful at stuff.
I actually didn't watch the USA-Brazil match live. I had to choose between lunch with family/friends and the game and I chose actual people over tv. It was an amazing game that captured the attention of the nation. Even watching the replay a couple days later on ESPN Classic gave me goosebumps. This team seemed destined to join the Miracle on Ice hockey team in the history books of great champions.
Something happened on the way to destiny though.
Back to Facing the Giants... the first time I watched the movie I was loving it for the most part. In fact, when the team loses in the playoffs and the team still knelt down to praise God even after a loss I wanted to do the one thing I've never thought people did in the movies: stand and cheer. The movie doesn't stop there though and literally ends with everyone getting what they wanted. The infertile have children, the guy with a car that doesn't run gets a car and the team somehow gets back in the playoffs and the wind literally changes direction so that they win. I'm not opposed to happy endings. I love Disney films. Those things always have happy endings. What I didn't like is that the story it was telling is that the Christian life ends that way.
Final switch to the soccer game. Finding a place to watch the game was one of my highest priorities for Sunday afternoon. I got together with friends and went to B-dubs and started watching the game. My Amtrak train had to leave shortly after the 2nd half started so I wasn't going to see the end of the game but I was confident that the 1-0 lead would be more than enough. It was a shock to read on my cell phone that the team had lost in penalty kicks. It shouldn't have gone this way...
Life doesn't always have a "happy ending" when we look at what we think is the end of the story though. We don't always get free cars, couples can't always get pregnant, the wind doesn't always change. While we see the example of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho we can also see Jesus talking to his disciples. They see a blind man on the street and ask if it's because of his own sin or his parents' sin that he's blind. Jesus tells them that it's not from sin but because God's works were going to be displayed in him.
Sometimes God gives us the things that we ask Him for. Sometimes the wind does change and we can rejoice in the blessings that He gives us... but sometimes He allows us to lose so that His glory can be seen in a greater way.
The loss to Japan was disappointing to the team and to a nation that wanted to celebrate a deserving victory.
Sometimes though, we don't get what we want or deserve.
Much more often than we realize, that's a good thing.