Film Friday Reflection: Gladiator

Another moment drawing on the forthcoming Movies & Me book…

‘Today I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work he will give us to do.’ So said the great Corrie Ten Boom. I see know, looking back, how well that describes my eighteen months working in a cinema. Those days when I felt so out of my depth, perpetually embarrassed because everyone else was way younger and cooler than me. Always a little afraid I would say or do the wrong thing. Wondering where I was heading, if I was actually heading anywhere at all, and whether there would ever be a new chance for me. I had no idea that films would play such a key part in my life in the future. One clip from Gladiator that I have revisited a lot, taps into that sense of life falling apart, not unlike the biblical Job’s terrible predicament. Maximus escapes wrongful imprisonment and flees from the evil Commodus, but on returning home he finds his farm devastated and his family destroyed. He falls to his knees in the dirt and collapses in his pain. He has lost everything. He lies there helpless and empty. A story that so many resonate with, one way or another. There are many ways of losing everything, in the cinema I felt as if I had lost everything because I had no aspirations, no clear way forward, no plan or purpose. For so many, for far, far too many, it is about actually losing everything, through wars, riots, plagues, famines, earthquakes, oppression, invasion, first world greed… the list goes on. The Bible is full of people who are in some kind of trouble. Their stories, and their cries and prayers are there for us. ‘I believe, help my unbelief.’ ‘I’m sinking in deep mud.’ ‘My God, why have you forsaken me…’  ‘My pillow is soaked with my tears.’ ‘Why do the nations rage?’ ‘If only you’d been here…’ Corrie Ten Boom experienced awful darkness in her life, with God’s help in that darkness she was able to say, ‘Love is larger than the walls which shut it in.’

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