Learn From a Movie (The Descendants)

Movie title: The Descendants.
Based on a novel by: Kaui Hart Hemmings
Screen play by: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash.
Produced by: Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, and Jim Taylor.
Directed by: Alexander Payne.
Lead character: George Clooney

“LOST CHANCE”

The Descendants; I love this movie. And for me it’s beyond George Clooney; his presence, his voice, his talent. It’s all that and much more.

The movie has a unique appeal that is entertaining in a soothing way. The picturesque city of Hawaii, where the movie is set, with her easy, traditional but elegant style of music also contributes to the allure of the production. Although the movie explores a weighty matter, I don’t feel the weight dropped on my shoulders, rather I see it played out in front of me and when it ended I found myself yearning for a sequel; Elizabeth King’s side of the story. What was life like for her before she had the fatal boat accident that threw her into a coma? Before all her dirty secrets about the affair she was having with Brian Speers, an estate agent, spilled.

The marriage of Matt and Elizabeth king was troubled and Matt didn’t even know his wife had moved on. In his ignorant head it was like a broken down car, parked in the garage, something he could get back to, whenever he was ready to fix it. It took a boat accident to get Matt in the mood to make peace. When he saw his wife lying unconscious on the hospital bed for days he said, “I’m ready now; I’m ready to be a real husband and a real father”. But it was too late.

Dead. Elizabeth, dead? How could she be dead when they had so many unresolved issues? And there were fresh allegations. Alexander, their teenage daughter claimed Elizabeth was having an affair and Matt verified the story from a family friend and even learnt from them that Elizabeth was planning to leave him. Elizabeth had questions to answer, she had no right to be in a boat accident, and she had no right to die. But she was dead. It didn’t matter that Matt was angry at her, it didn’t matter that her daughter Alex was angry too, as well as Julie, Brian’s wife. She couldn’t apologise to any of them in her present state. And it didn’t matter anymore, whatever kind of fears and frustrations she died with. It was too late for her to share them with Matt.

Matt said goodbye to Elizabeth in simple words. He said, “Good bye Elizabeth, my love, my friend, my joy, my pain.” Hearing him say those words and watching him kiss her lifeless lips for the last time while a tear ran down his face, the obvious was re-echoed. Matt king loved his wife. So why were they fighting? Why had they not spoken to each other in weeks? Sure, they both had their reasons, but they must have also had several chances to resolve their issues. Here’s a tricky question, If Elizabeth had survived the boat accident, would she have tried to make her marriage work? The truth is there’s no telling. She might have still insisted on having a divorce. But surviving the accident would have given Matt a chance to try to right all the wrongs in his marriage. He was desperate for that chance the moment he heard about his wife’s accident but unfortunately, that chance was lost.

Dear FOJ, It’s sad that sometimes we put off what we should deal with immediately for later. We let the important become an emergency, forgetting that an emergency can easily become an irreparable situation. There are many things we cannot afford to take for granted; our health, work, finances, marriage, children and so on. But above all, our salvation. Jesus is coming back soon, every day that He tarries is a chance to make sure we have a right standing with God. As friends of Jesus, we cannot afford to take our relationship with the Lord for granted. We cannot work it like a marriage where love, faithfulness, devotion and trust no longer exist. We may keep telling ourselves we’ll get to it, we’ll fix it, but one day, suddenly, the chance to do that will no longer be available. There will be nothing left to do but to submit to the unpleasant consequences of a lost chance. (See Ephesians 4: 5, 6)
Yours truly,
Moni.

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CHILDREN CAN BE NAUGHTY

So why do we have to be like them to get to heaven?

Children are dependants; they depend on adults for guidance, instruction, provision, protection and sustenance, generally. Children don’t get to make their own rules, they are under authority. Children understand that they don’t know much and they need to be taught so they are always eager to learn. Children are lovers of their parents, they are anxious for their parents love and attention and they cherish it. Children love to play, so they understand that they can’t stay angry at a friend or brother or sister for long, they are eager to forgive and get the music playing again so everyone can dance! Children love reward, so they get on any task given by an adult with the promise of sweet reward. Children are trusting and easy to please. Love in the heart of a child is simple and pure. So, these are some of the reasons why God wants us to be like children in our relationship with Him.

Now I’m going to flip to the other side of the coin.

Children are not perfect. They can be selfish and greedy. They can be restless and troublesome. They ask silly questions. They ask intelligent questions that make adults uncomfortable. They make a lot of noise and sometimes when you tell them to stop, they pretend you said, ride on! No wonder the disciples of Jesus were alarmed when some people were “thoughtless” enough to try to bring children around the Lord. The disciples drove them back like butchers drive flies from meat on display for sale at the local market place. But surprisingly Jesus disapproved. He said, “Let the children come to me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus understood that while children are not perfect, they are teachable. A teachable person is never too proud to take correction and therefore repentance is never an issue for such a person. The spirit of repentance is invaluable because it pleases God who desires that no one should die living a life of disobedience to His words. Sometimes people don’t even see why they should submit to God’s authority, it takes humility to admit that we need God, and it takes meekness to walk with Him. And yes, everybody needs God; we need His love, mercy and forgiveness. We are God’s children, the work of His hands, so with Him we can never be adults, we can only be children. This means we don’t get to make our own rules, we depend on Him completely.

It is important that in our relationship with God, we be the child and let Him be the adult. One of the traits of children which most adults struggle with is the issue of forgiveness. Forgiving others when they wrong us is the condition for receiving forgiveness from God and you know we wrong Him on a daily basis without even opening our mouth! Let us learn to forgive as children do so that God will be pleased with us, and so that there will always be music in our lives, and someone to dance with.

And now, just for laughs.

Popular gospel artist Ron Kenoly told the story of how he was shocked to hear his fine mother sing the old hymn, “Amazing Grace”, when he was a child.
“Amazing grace,
How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….”
A wretch? Little Ron had to ask, “Are you a wretch mama?”
Shocked, his mother retorted, “Shut up and sing boy!”

I had a similar experience with my daughter one day when I was listening to one of Cece Winans CDs, and singing along to the track, “BRING BACK THE DAYS OF YEA AND NAY”. When I got to the line in the song that says, “I remember when life was so easy,” my daughter turned to me and asked, “Mummy is life still easy?” I was surprised and I laughed because I thought it was funny. But when she kept staring curiously at me I had to say something. I said yes, life was still easy, and thankfully, she had no further questions.

Yours truly,

Moni.

Learn From a Book

ImageBook title: Empire Falls.

Author: Richard Russo

Charles Beaumont Whiting was American but he knew that if he wanted to be happy he would have to live in Mexico. He believed in his “personal destiny”, which was to be an artist but he knew that his responsibility was to take over the family business and make a success of it just like his father and grandfather did. Up till the moment he was summoned to divorce his ideal life and marry his reality, Charles enjoyed living large on the fortune created by the sweat of his father and grandfather. Indeed, to whom much is given, much is asked in return.

The story of CB Whiting, his dilemma and eventual tragic death, was one of the stories that broke my heart in Empire Falls but I took solace in the story of Miles Roby, a story that ended with light shinning at the end of a dark tunnel. I love stories that offer hope, life with all its twists, surprises and towering challenges should not be wanting of miracles.

Miles was born to a man who had no idea how to be a husband, much less a father, and a mother who dutifully placed the happiness of her children above hers. Miles watched his mother suffer, he saw her transform from a beautiful woman that men couldn’t take their eyes off to one that ceased to turn heads. She suffered in a marriage that was clearly a mistake, and in a love relationship that caused her grief because just like her, her lover legally belonged to someone else. Miles watched as sorrow ate up his mother until a terminal disease claimed what was left of her.

As a grown man with a deceased mother, a near good for nothing father, an assertive brother, an estranged wife, a daughter to die for and a restaurant business to run, miles had plenty on his plate. But at the same time, life was joyless because miles wanted so much more. If he had finished school, he would have become a lecturer, or a writer, or both. If his wife had not divorced him, he would not have lost his comfortable house. If Mrs. Whiting, the powerful woman whose husband his late mother tried to steal wasn’t so vindictive, his future and that of his daughter wouldn’t look so bleak. Deep down miles knew he needed a change, a better life, rich with fulfillment but he didn’t know how to attain it. Or maybe he just wasn’t desperate enough, which happened to be what his brother thought.

Finally, events worked miles up to the point where he became desperate enough for change; something that never come without a fight. Miles, not much of a fighter, did get up to throw a few pouches which proved to be a lame attempt at liberty, judging by the forces he was up against. But, suddenly, miles had “divine intervention”, things seemed to sort themselves out in a remarkable way. Mrs. Whiting who seemed to be in control of his destiny was swept away by flood, not even her pet cat that enjoyed attacking Miles for sports was spared by the avenging waters. The story ends with miles receiving a gift; a new beginning, promising, with endless possibilities.

Dear FOJ, if you want more out of life, change is possible. Like miles you may be confronted with forces that seem insurmountable but if you really desire change you have to get up and fight. A child of God fights by praying, when we pray, we receive divine intervention.  God is a miracle worker and His word is full of promises to turn around unfavorable situations and circumstances. I leave you to ponder on the following scriptures.

“Whereas you have been

Forsaken and hated,

So that no one went through you,

I will make you an eternal

Excellence,

A joy of many generations.” Isaiah 60:15.

“A little one shall become a

Thousand,

And a small one a strong

Nation.

I, the LORD, will hasten it in its

Time.” Isaiah 60:22

Yours sincerely,

Moni.

Focus Gets the Job Done

Jesus displayed the spirit of focus. He was always in control. If he got up to do something or started a conversation , He was very clear about what He was doing or what He wanted to achieve and there was no stopping Him until His mission was accomplished.

A good example of Jesus’ display of focus is His encounter with the Samaritan woman. The woman did not understand the message Jesus tried to pass across to her as regards the water of life but that did not discourage Jesus, He kept on talking to her until suddenly, there was a positive development. The woman said sir, you must be a prophet!
By the time Jesus was leaving Samaria, many Samaritans were confessing Him as the savior of the world.

Jesus knew that He was a soul winner, and He was in Samaria at that particular moment to win souls. He told His disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, there are still four months and then comes the harvest? Behold I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” However, if Jesus had withdrawn from the Samaritan woman because she was finding it difficult to understand spiritual matters, His mission would not have been accomplished.

When God gives you a job to do, you don’t bow to obstacles, you make obstacles bow.

Jesus tried to teach His disciples focus. After He resurrected, He said to Peter, “follow me.” But peter was distracted by the presence of another disciple; John the beloved. Peter asked Jesus, what about this man? He was probably thinking, I know You’re fond of him, we all saw him lie on Your bosom, and while You were dying on the cross, You handed your mother to him. Peter was curious about what plans Jesus had for John. Jesus didn’t appreciate Peter’s curiosity, He told him to focus. “If I will that he remains till I come, what is that to you? You, follow me.”

Don’t be distracted by the move of God in someone else’s life, concentrate on what He is doing in your life.

In Acts chapter 1, Jesus was about to ascend to heaven and it was very important that He explained to His disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit and the purpose of the Spirit in their lives. Jesus said, “For John truly baptized with water but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” But the disciples had other matters in mind, so they decided to digress. They asked Jesus, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus gave them the same focus on what I’m trying to do now, answer that He gave peter. He said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” And then He took them back to what He was trying to say before distraction set in. Jesus said, “but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and to the end of the earth.” Jesus was trying to tell the disciples to focus on the spiritual task of soul winning which was ahead of them.

There will always be emergency situations around us; socio, political and economic crisis, but even in the midst of that God expects us to focus on what ever assignments He has given to us and get the job done. He does not expect us to abandon our assignments to attend to other pressing matters.

Dear FOJ, what has the Lord placed in your heart to do? Are you focused? Or are you easily distracted? Remember, the key to getting anything done is FOCUS.

Yours sincerely,

Moni.