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“…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”John 10:10 (King James Version)
“…Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 18:3 (KJV)
I watched two movies last night, and though they were very different, I saw similarities in their stories of life and death.
Specifically, what hit me was seeing characters portraying the joy of LIVING.
While I was watching, as I am want to do, I wanted to eat. While eating the types of food I really like—particularly the sweet food—I realized more than ever that I am always HUNGRY, but that I can never fill that hunger with food!
In the first movie, the original 1953 Titanic, a young Robert Wagner portrayed a high-spirited young man who played tennis for a college. While on-ship, he sought to get to know an upper-class young woman played by Audrey Dalton. In one scene, he got her to dance with him, in another he led a group of his college friends in singing some familiar songs.
He asked her to go out on the ship’s deck, and showed her some dance moves that she did not know (she lived a sheltered life in England, and was not familiar with the latest dance crazes in the States).
The Robert Wagner character had a good time showing the dance steps, and the Audrey Dalton character enjoyed learning them. It looked like good fun—but it was not the dance moves themselves that were fun, it was the interaction between two people who enjoyed each other’s company that made it so.
Afterwards, I saw another movie called Brothers with Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, and Jake Gyllenhaal. This was a dark “trauma-drama” as I would call it. In the movie, the Tobey Maguire (SPOILER ALERT!) character plays a soldier who becomes a prisoner of war in Afghanistan and loses his innocence–and hence his previous joy for living.
He has a secret that is destroying him, and becomes so cut off from life and his family because of it, that his daughters don’t even want him around anymore. His wife, the Natalie Portman character, ends up falling for his ex-con brother, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. The reason for this is that Jake’s character—despite his flaws—enjoys life, and having a good time helping and playing with the family.
This kind of movie plot or subplot plays out in nearly all movies. The heroic character is typically a lover of life, and his love interest is drawn to that in him.
I remember reading a book many years ago–Wild at Heart— that discusses how men have lost their “wildness” that women appreciate and are drawn to, and the author John Eldredge used examples from movies like Legends of the Fall to make his point.
Here is John’s website–I have not been following him but it looks like he still has a lot going on.
In watching these movies last night, I realized more than ever that this is what I have been running from–the stark realization that I have lost my innocence and hence my love for life. Thank God, though, He is helping me regain it!
I thought I was seeking comfort in food and other pleasures. But that’s not really it—I have been seeking LIFE in food and other replacements for living.
“I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”John 4:32 (New International Version)
I can see now that I have used food, sex, and other pleasures as a compensation—an attempt at replacing the life of innocence I enjoyed before corruption (the false promise of greater life) took its toll on my soul.
What happened to “play”?
Children naturally love to play with each other. Somewhere along the way, I forgot how to do that. I suppose almost all of us have. I have no idea now how to just play! There’s a distant memory or connection with it, but that’s as close as I seem to get at the moment.
Being in situations where I’m reminded of this loss are the most stressful for me, and the kind of situations that drive me to want to eat or distract myself in some other way—to forget the pain of forgetting how to play!
Many of the things I like to do to this day are some reminder of the play I naturally took part in as a child. But the “things” are not the play. The play is the play!
Even my “spiritual” paths—though they have been influenced by goals such as wanting to “overcome” anger—have really been about seeking to regain my childhood innocence.
“Except ye be converted and come as little children…”
I have a snapshot in my mind, that I’ve mentioned at times. It is of being at a park as a boy and just smiling—for no apparent reason but for the pure joy of living. I remember my older brother and a friend of his approaching and looking at me funny. Perhaps they had already lost their joy of innocence.
A minister I used to know has said that we should “die” (our ego) before we die (physically). I agree with this, but I prefer to say I want to LIVE before I die.
“Every man dies. Not every man truly lives.”William Wallace
Can innocence lost somehow be recaptured?
Oh yes it can! Not only can it be regained, it must be recaptured in order for us to enter the kingdom of heaven. But put another way, regaining our lost innocence IS finding the kingdom of heaven!
So how would one go about recapturing our innocence, and do we even have the power to do that?
It has been said by many that we do NOT have the power to do anything. And I won’t argue with that. But we do have the ability to desire a better life—a life filled with actual LIVING! And God will grant it! It says so right here…
“…except ye be CONVERTED and come as little children…”Matthew 18:3 (KJV)
“Converted”…interesting choice of words.
Only God has the power to convert us for the good. And I believe He does that most directly through prayer.
And God has told us that what we ask for, we can receive.
Jesus told the story of a man who found a treasure in a field, and once he found it, he hid it again, and in his joy went out and sold all he had to buy that field!
Well, I am asking God that I may LIVE. Would I give up everything for that life? I don’t know. I sure hope I would be willing.
Now—I see that the things we want—even the spiritual things—all come down to wanting to fully live.
Will the “end times” put an end to our LIFE?
And now—ironically it seems—just as I am finally regaining my taste and joy for living—the world itself seems to be winding down—drunk on its false life. Yet I do believe that we can have joy even as the world and its system heads toward collapse.
And as Christians, we believe that this life is not all there is anyway. That there is a promise of a life where justice and righteousness prevail. Where we will reach the full measure of joy with our Creator.
Perhaps we will have to give up our life as we know it to reach this new life. I don’t know. It seems we are in the beginning stages of this test. All who are drawn to true life will pass this test with God’s help.
I hope that I will be part of that new life. That my family will be part of that. And that all who seek true life will be part of that. I believe it to be true.
Yet even on the plane I am living on now, I really look forward to getting my life back–to live each day with innocence and joy!
Patrick Rooney is the Founder of OldSchoolUs.com. He communicates clearly and fearlessly during perilous times about natural health, success, and freedom. To reach Patrick, email him at [email protected].
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