Film Friday Classic: North by Northwest

In the days before James Bond this action-thrills-and-spills epic exploded off the screen like a punch to the solar-plexus. Scenes of Cary Grant fleeing a low-flying, crop-spraying plane and then standing frozen in the wake of a pile-driving truck are etched in film history. This was arguably the first action movie, Alfred Hitchcock had started a juggernaut and he didn’t know it. There’s a continuing line all the way from this film to the forthcoming Jumanji reboot. And unlike the truck heading for Mr Grant, it won’t be stopping for a good long while. If ever.

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We sometimes hear the Christian life described as an adventure of faith. And in some ways it certainly is. There is a sense of the unknown about it. We all follow in the footsteps of that intrepid father of faith Abraham. The man who, with Sarah, upped sticks and headed for a nomadic life, following the call of God to a new life and a whole new way of being. Their journey had plenty of action and adventure about it, thrills and spills, mistakes and danger aplenty. I remember being inspired by him three decades ago, and am still so today.

But much of the Christian life is not like North by Northwest. There are many days of ordinariness. Many times of wondering just what is going on and where we are heading. We are inspired by tales of the great heroes of faith, but find our lives do not mirror theirs. And that’s when it’s good to remind ourselves of the reality of the Bible. Jesus lived a normal middle-eastern life for 30 years. 30 YEARS!! That’s a long time with many ordinary days of working, eating, sleeping or not sleeping, and trying to make a living. Rahab the prostitute has gone down in history as being a hero of the faith because of that one night of daring rescue when she hid a couple of Cary Grant types on her roof and courageously laid a smoke screen for them when the king’s men pitched up, looking for blood to spill. But that was it. Just one night. Oh – and the vital fact that she went on to become Ruth’s mother-in-law and Jesus’s great-great-great-great-great etc. grandmother. But there were thousands of days of normal living tucked away in her story. As there are with ours. One of the great lines from the Psalms (Psalm 46 v 10) encourages us simply to ‘Be still and know the presence of God.’ In our many quests for order, excitement, satisfaction, security, danger or safety, we are invited to stop and hold our spiritual breath for a moment, to remind ourselves again that God is with us in all things. In the normality, dreariness, excitement and wonder. In the now. Whatever that looks like.

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