I love movies. And books, and long conversations with anyone who is willing to tell their story.
Not long ago a childhood friend sat across from me in my office and talked about how a gang of ruffians invaded her home in Africa. It was late one night when the men broke through their door wielding large machete like knives. The men tied up them up, threw them face down to lay on the floor while they ransacked their home.
As my old friend shared her story, I watched her eyes and observed her body language. There was no doubt they had been terrorized that night.
And I was mesmerized. I sat in complete safety but could imagine what was happening, smell the fear in the air, feel the terror. Yet, I didn’t have to live the story.
Maybe that’s why I love movies and books. I can experience the action but not incur the actual cost of living it. I can learn the lessons and be inspired without the battle scars.
A good story teaches us. If we are willing to hear.
Someone made the comment yesterday that because I now have a grandchild, I could start going to animated movies again.
I laughed. My kids are in their 20s and 30s and we still go to animated movies. We started when they were barely old enough to sit up.
In fact, my sister-in-law still tells the story about when our middle son, Collin, asked in a rather loud voice, during a very quiet moment in the Little Mermaid, “Does this movie have babas?”
Ursula was a super scary fishy thing and he needed a bit of comfort.
In my mind, one of the great animated classics was Shrek. I loved the singing, the humor, the one liners and the way it told the story of an upside down kingdom.
The ugly guy (a green ogre) wins the beautiful princess.
The least of the least, a donkey, turns out to be the hero.
The princess forsakes her privilege and beauty to love her soulmate unconditionally.
The wedding takes place in a swamp.
The fairy tale misfits and outcasts are invited to the wedding celebration.
The puffed up, primping lord ends up in the fiery pit.
The story of Shrek reminds me of the kingdom Jesus introduced to the world when he said, “He who is last, will be first.”
Jesus wasn’t simply talking about a kingdom someday. He was saying that if you choose to follow me, life will be turned upside down right now. He was declaring that leaders will serve. The hurting will heal. The hated will love. The broken will be whole. The followers will become influencers.
As it turns out, the early citizens of this kingdom would not become an army of power but a tribe of oddballs who loved the marginalized, the hopeless, the sick and the poor.
Movies, books, and personal stories teach us. My friend’s story and Shrek’s story and your story all matter. They inform us and remind us anew, of a God who came into this world to shake us up and start something radical in us and around us.
Do you have ears to hear?