Like a good book, the sign of a great movie is when one keeps pondering it long after the credits have finished rolling. Such has been the case with Amazing Grace.
I have to admit, I cried a couple of times (okay, more than a couple) in the movie theater yesterday. Tears of joy as well as sadness. However, there was one particular time when I felt tears come to my eyes because of something purely selfish.
As I watched the amazing story of Wilberforce and his friends, it made me realize how little of my original goals I'd made for my life actually came to pass. Coming to Christ during the Jesus Movement and the very atmosphere of the late 60s/early 70s...one always believed they would change the world. There was a joke among us back then, we'd say around lunch time that we still had enough daylight left to solve world hunger. Okay, remember...we were young. :)
Had I "missed it"? Had I let the years of personal turmoil and trials get in the way of "doing something for God"? Not that I hadn't been a witness at work, taught Bible studies and Sunday School, etc...but, nothing "big" for God. Instead I had married young (days after I turned twenty), had kids, worked full time and part time, homeschooled, been active in church, no longer active in church, days followed days and years followed years.
Then...while watching the movie...God reminded me of a conversation I had that morning with a three year old (almost four, Grammie!). He's just the cutest thing, asking if I'm going to be sending him more books soon. Then hearing about little Faith (not two until the Summer) and how she bowed her head while saying grace and shouted a hearty Amen! (I'm certain Miss E. is just as wonderful but I hadn't talked to her that morning.) There was talk about the new grandson who will make his entrance within weeks.
I also thought of a conversation I'd had with my son just the night before. How he's concerned about a couple of his Christian friends. He told me how grateful he was about the way we presented the Christian life to him. He said we'd never made Christianity all about rules or regulations but we'd showed him the road to walk where he'd have his own relationship with Christ...the Person. (Sniff...sniff) He felt the trials we've gone through actually led him into a real relationship with Christ rather than just knowing about Him from sermons and such.
I've been told numerous times, by my husband and family members, that my husband wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for me. As I've mentioned before, the physical illness he has had since before we were married affects him emotionally and mentally. There have been times he has been in the depth of depression. If I hadn't been there, he most likely would have taken his own life. In the midst of darkness...I would remind him of the true Light...to hang on...it's not Heaven, yet. Not perfectly mind you, there were also the times I stomped my feet and shouted at everyone (husband, kids, God especially) that this is not what I had signed up for, thank you very much. However, most of the time I think His Spirit came through and brought about calm in the midst of turmoil. It's just those days when one has had it up to HERE...well, you know those days...
I remember a pastor telling us once that as he was thinking of his life, he heard God "whisper" (that still, small Voice)..."What if it's not about you?" As he thought of that question, he realized it may not be up to him to change the world. It may be his children or someone listening to his sermons...he may be only the person that teaches the person...who influences a world for Christ in a big way. At the same time, he probably influenced people much more than he ever imagined.
I've been pondering these things in my heart, running them across the images in my mind, ever since watching the movie. Wilberforce didn't do it on his own, God provided him with friends (as in one who became Prime Minister), compatriots, mentors (I'm sure John Newton didn't realize we'd be talking about him in the 21st Century), a supportive and wise wife, family...all of whom made it possible for him to do great things for God.
I'm glad that in the early days of my faith, I had big dreams. God gives the young vision for a reason. I'm also glad He sent me to the writings of Edith Schaeffer, Elisabeth Elliot, Anne Ortlund, and other wise women who helped me understand that great things are found in small acts of service and love...giving water in a dry land...to family and friends. A good thing...
Picture: "John Newton" speaking with "William Wilberforce"