Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hacksaw Ridge

A few years ago I saw The Blind Side and reflected on how modern Christian art tends to be terrible except when it is telling true stories. I though the same thing when I recently saw Hacksaw Ridge and a Netflix thing called Unconditional. Both are telling stories where faith played a big part. Both tell them with out removing the religion as Hollywood often does. Yet they are good stories. They are messy. Christians struggle. They don't pray and have problems just go away. They suffer through both physically and mentally. They think they hear God's word but they are not always sure. 

It is so refreshing because these stories show how God works in real life. He uses us powerfully but it 
often does not feel that way. Often it feels like we are being stupid or being selfish or just failing. Yet God is using the fact that we are there. That we are not just there physically but there with our heart fully engaged and willing to make sacrifices. We are annoyed because we don't have things figured out but that is not really a problem. God has them figured out and you just need to trust Him.

The story of Hacksaw Ridge is a miracle of sorts. That is if it was fiction we would never believe what the main character does is humanly possible. Yet he did it. Because it is a true story we can't just dismiss it. This man did something extraordinary and if you ask him how he did it he will talk about God. He was able to overcome pain and risk of death and do what he did only because he felt strongly that this was God's will for him in that moment. He had done God's will in some very hard circumstances before. That is the way he lived and if he was going to die on this ridge he was going to die that way. 

Mel Gibson does not shy away from any of the ugliness of battle. That makes this movie so much more intense. In a lot of ways it is hard to watch. Yet that speaks to. Desmond's father tells him that war would take his young faith and rip it apart. It was true for the dad. He was traumatised in WWI and never really recovered. He is a pathetic character because of it. Yet we see that embracing the faith rather then rejecting it it is not only possible but vastly preferable. That life's struggles are not easy. They are hard and even terrifying. Desmond is not without fear. Yet he still trusts that God is with him even on this day. 

Not only does Desmond have a profound experience of God on the battlefield. He enables others to have it as well. The story does not focus on the people he saves so much but they are in a bad way. They are wounded in an area that the Allies have pulled out of. They cannot flee. The Japanese are killing those who surrender. Staying put likely means succumbing to their wounds after many hours of suffering. What do you think ran through their minds? I am guessing that many of them were praying. I am guessing that to many of them Desmond showing up seemed like an answer to an impossible and desperate prayer. It is one of the greatest privileges God gives us as Christians to be an answer to somebody's prayer. The real Desmond Doss in an interview after the film talks about the smile one man gave him and how rewarding it was. 

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