Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Taking of Pelham 123

"The one who conceals his sin will never prosper, but the one who confesses and forsakes his sins will obtain mercy and forgiveness." Prov. 28:13

The Taking of Pelham 123 takes us on a thrill ride through the subways of New York City. The movie is basically a two-hour stand-off between two men: a transportation dispatcher named Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) and the subway hijacker who calls himself "Ryder" (John Travolta).

Early in the film, Ryder commandeers a subway train and takes the passengers as hostages in an attempt to demand $10 million for their ransom from the mayor of New York City (played by James Gandolfini). Garber is the dispatcher of the hour who investigates this crisis and in so doing, establishes a gentlemen's rapport with Ryder.

Both men are troubled souls, we come to find out, and in this way, kindred spirits (which endears one to the other throughout the ordeal). Both Garber and Ryder were down on their luck at one point in the past, and to compensate for that struggle, did something illegal to try and get ahead.

But on this day, despite their common misdeeds of the past, they are on opposite sides of this game of cat and mouse.

What puts them on those opposite sides is the choices they have made in life. Both had done something wrong or something shameful in their past, but each one handled it differently. They made a choice on how they would pick themselves up again after their respective falls.

Garber probably accepted a bribe from Japanese investors, but has chosen to face the consequences and whatever justice lies before him. Ryder was convicted of financial corruption, and is now bent on getting revenge against those who accused and humiliated him.

Their stories reflect an ancient tradition of proverbial wisdom in the Hebrew Scriptures. In many of the proverbs of the Bible, there is a juxtaposition of the wise and the foolish, the innocent and the criminal, the just and the unjust.

The Taking of Pelham 123 shows us another proverbial story - of the one who hides his sin and becomes bitter and the one who quietly faces justice and lives honorably... or as it is written in Scripture: "The one who conceals his sin will never prosper, but the one who confesses and forsakes his sins will obtain mercy and forgiveness." (Prov. 28:13)

What seperates one from the other is the choice we make after a fall. We all make mistakes, and many of us have suffered humilitation in the past. The question is not how far we fell, but how well we rose up again. We could be bitter, bury our insecurities, and become vengeful, or we can hold our heads up high, admit and confess our sins, and forgive those who stand against us.

If we are followers of Christ, there is really only one choice, and that is to follow the lead of Jesus and act with honor, humility, and forgiveness. Anything else, as the Proverbs say, "will never prosper."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Imagine That

"There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens... a time to keep, and a time to cast away." Eccl. 3:1,6

There is an old saying, that when you go to heaven, you probably won't say to God, "Gee, I wish I spent more time at the office." Life is about balance, but we have such a hard time achieving that in our lives.

Imagine That is a film that reminds us to examine our lives and find the balance we so desperately seek. And balance is not the same thing for everyone. Each one of us has a unique tipping point.

In the movie, Eddie Murphy plays Evan, a financial executive who struggles to find his balancing point. His daughter Olivia (Yara Shahidi) is struggling too. Her parents are divorced and neither seems to pay her any attention; consequently, with the help of her blanket, she creates a magical imaginary universe to escape and hide from the struggles in the real world.

Balance is the key for everyone. In the Scriptures, the author of Ecclesiastes reminds us that "There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens... a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to be serious and a time to dance... a time to seek and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away..." (Eccl. 3:1,4,6)

Like Evan and Olivia, we all struggle with balance in our lives. We try to balance between work and play, between the "have to" and the "get to," between personal and public, between reality and dreaming. If we stay too long doing one thing, everything else suffers.

In the film, Evan was so wrapped up in his work that he forgot to play, and Olivia was so wrapped up in her fantasy world that she forgot to develop relationships with her parents in the real world. How often has that happened to us, too?

Imagine That is a good movie that should cause us to take stock of our lives. How are we doing in balancing all the various aspects of our world? For me, I know I need to spend more time in personal prayer and private time. Even in my off-time, I usually spend it with people - but rarely take a moment for myself. As I reflect on this movie, it reminds me to work on that area of balance in my life. What about you? What do you need to balance better?

Let us pray that we will all discover the appointed time for everything, and in so doing, find the inner peace we long for all our lives.