If you knew your future – all of its pain and happiness – would you choose to live it?
I watched the movie Arrival on a near empty flight from YYZ to YEG. It’s a sci-fi flick but its much more than that. The plot looked intriguing so I spent two hours of my life for the experience. No regrets. I’m a soft touch for tear-jerkers that make you think and this one didn’t disappoint.
A Love Story
Arrival is about aliens (Heptapods), an international crisis, fear generated by the unknown and destiny. The action and dialogue are on the shallow side but the storyline will take you deep. All in all, Arrival is a love story about a single mom, Louise Banks who is a linguistic professor and her only daughter – Hannah – who is dying of cancer.
Woven throughout the film are what appear to be the typical flashbacks used in movies. However – and this is the genius of the scriptwriter – SPOILER ALERT – the images are actually flash-forwards.
The opening images convey the joy of birth, childhood fun between a mom and her girl, tickle fights, the challenges of adolescence and then all too quickly a terrifying change – the effects of cancer, debilitation, then death at much too young an age. The lonely walk of a grieving mom along a dimly lit hospital corridor. “Come back to me.” (This is where the tears come in.)
And that’s just the first few minutes of the film.
Arrival is about love, choice and the heartache that loving choices can bring.
If You Knew The Future…
Despite the pain, the heartache, and the suffering that she foresees, Louise decides the joy and love that awaits her relationship with her daughter is worth it all. However, that’s how she becomes a single mom. Her husband and the father of their child cannot make the same choice when he learns about the future. He walks out of their lives.
The story raises the question: if you knew your future was filled with pain because of those you love, would you choose it anyway? If so, can that choice help you develop gratitude and joy for the hardship that you have now?
This is a story about us and about the God who knows the future better than we know the present.
The God Who Knows
I’ve lost track of how many times the question has been posed to me, “If God knows the future, what choice do we have? Why live it?”
I find the answer in this perspective – God sees the future and still made the choice to create us – full well knowing all of the rejection, rebellion and heartache creation would bring Him.
Whatever you think of your life, ponder this: There is nothing you can do that God has not foreseen and already said, “I love you.” Whatever pain or disappointment we create, God has seen the beauty and joy of our lives and already said, “It’s worth it.”
The Secret Wisdom of Love
Jesus is the wisdom of God’s love for you.
“We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.” 1 Corinthians 2:7
“God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (Jesus).” John 3:16
“Jesus was chosen before the creation of the world.” 1 Peter 1:20
Joy For Your Journey
Dealing with a difficult present and an unknown future is best lived by faith in God. Joy is an expression of that faith.
Kay Warren says, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”
I hope you’ll see Arrival even though you already know the plotline. There is a difference between knowing and experiencing.
APPLICATION: Let me know what you think about your experience. Please leave a comment below. Thank you.
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Thank you Pastor Bob. Even knowing how my life has turned out I wouldn’t change anything. I am very thankful for my family and friends and all that God has done for me and what I have experience. He has been with me the whole time and I wouldn’t give that up for anything. God strengthens us all exactly when we need it. Most times we forget to ask but He does it anyway because He knows we need it. He gives us the faith and trust and courage right before we need it. Then we look back on what we went through and say “I had the faith,trust,courage to do that” when really God did it for you. You just didn’t know it at the time. Praise be to God.
Such an amazing movie but your connection to how I believe in Christ is so much more intriguing!
Your ability to take the plot of this movie and open my eyes to the joy I choose to have, regardless of my past, is a God wink.
In applying it to my life, when my husband first asked me why God would create us if he knew we would all fail so miserably, I gave him an answer similar to this but I am certainly grateful for a more poetic version going forward!
My explanation to my husband was more natural than spiritual. My husband and I often speak of how we wish we had met each other so much sooner but then we realize how much we might have missed if that had happened so we agree that the design was perfect for us and our family. I’ve also spent many hours reflecting on my past, usually in sorrow, but most often come to the conclusion that without all the experiences and hardships, I would not have met Christ as a child and I would not have all the moments that I find joyful! Those are the ways I tried to convey that God had no regrets in creating us, even though He knew we’d break His heart. He loves us enough that He created a plan for redemptiom right from the start.
I loved this movie; I loved the sounds, the cinematography, and the story. As a language teacher, I was intrigued by the urgency and necessity of learning and teaching the languages. I loved the concept of the circles and symbols of communication.
In a TED talk, Benny Lewis, a polyglot, says the most important factor in successful language learning is the desire\ need to communicate with someone. I think this film exemplified this point exactly.
I just watched Arrival last night. The question I have is, “if it was really possible to know the future and be able to change it by our choices, then why would we need belief, faith, trust and hope in God? ” I don’t see knowing the future as a gift. This is how it is presented in the movie. Knowing the future is not real if it can be changed because it was known. As it is we can make our plans but it is God who directs our steps. We don’t need to see the future to know there will heartache and suffering. We also already know there will be joy. It’s up to us to decide what to focus on.
Hi Brian. Your words are inspiring to me and I’m certain as well for all who read them and know you and your journey. Thank you.
Gotta love Godwinks! Movies and poetry – hadn’t seen that connection before. Creativity that inspires me to think about God and His ways leaves with a deeper appreciation of the mystery of God. Movie plotlines are an imperfect and imprecise way of communicating eternal truths but they can be a good starting place. I’m glad the post was helpful.
I was taken by the eagerness that spawned fearlessness in connecting with the unknown. It was annoying to me that the timeline between discovery of the aliens and connection was SO short. That seemed unrealistic to me. However it did make me think that for some people the eagerness to discover empowers the willingness to risk facing the danger of the unknown. Thank you for replying Adena!
Hi Patricia. Thank you for replying and for letting me know you watched the movie! Movies are great because their beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I saw the ability to “see the future” as a weight – the weight of knowing the wonderful and the heartbreaking. It made me glad for the gift of not knowing the future. To be able to trust God with the unknown of tomorrow knowing that whatever I face He will be there as my ally, Father and counselor. Good reminder to focus on the joy. God bless.