However, one part of the movie stayed in my mind, besides images of starving children and desperately hungry people. It was near the end when Jolie is running from danger, steps on a land mine, hears the click, and knows that her next move will be her last.
I thought about that all day. What would it feel like to be that close to death knowing that nothing could save me and my next movement would make it happen? Without being in that situation, it seems impossible to imagine, yet I know one thing for certain — this would test my confidence in the promises of God.
The entire nation of Israel had promises from God regarding a Messiah. They assumed He would be a political leader, likely born in high places and with great charisma and power. Their confidence was tested when Jesus came, proving their assumptions could not have been farther from what really happened.
Everyone knows the story. Jesus was born in a manger in a small town. No fanfare. No bodyguards. No royalty coming for a visit, unless the Magi count. They were “king-makers” who heard about His birth and looked for a star. Very likely their insider tip came centuries earlier from Daniel, a prophet of God who lived and worked with them. But they came later, after Mary and Joseph moved into a house. They were not at the manger.
The only visitors to the stable were a group of shepherds. Some say they were special shepherds who tended the sacrificial lambs, but there is little evidence to prove it. They were likely unwashed, simple men, but they knew the promises and knew also that this was the Messiah for whom the nation waited.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:20)After seeing Jesus, they went back to the sheep, filled with praise. All they had heard now matched up with all they had seen. This was cause for great joy.
God, this makes me think about the things I’ve heard about You and how You have shown them to me in my experience. I heard and was told that You answer prayer. I’ve seen the reality of that. I’ve been told and heard that You take care of Your people, right down to daily details of life. I’ve seen the reality of that also.
I’ve heard and been told that You give peace, not as the world gives. This means Your peace does not depend on peaceful circumstances. And you have shown me this is true by giving me peace in situations where peace should not have been possible. You have verified so many of Your promises.
I’ve also heard and been told that when I die, I will be immediately in Your presence. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). My heart sings that this is true, but of course You have not shown it to me yet.
It is this singing that I thought about today. If my foot were on a landmine, would I still sing? Or would I freeze, a deer-in-the-headlights terror on my face and fear in my heart?
Then I remember that it is only by Your grace and the power of Your Holy Spirit that I now rejoice in my heavenly hope. I cannot predict what would happen in that moment before I die when I know for certain death is immediate. I’ve never correctly second-guessed You. You always surprise me.
This tells me that when I stand on that landmine (or whatever means You use to take me from this world), whatever fills my heart will be a surprise. I cannot figure it out ahead of time. I just hope that by Your grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, I will glorify and praise God for all that I have heard and seen — and am about to see — just as You have told me. Yet my experience suggests that You could go above and beyond even that and surprise me once again.