I love movies. And "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" is one that I will watch over and over. Dustin Hoffman's title character captivates me because he embodies wisdom and play at the same time. The funny thing is that his funny speech pattern was something he came up with as a joke, but everyone loved it so much that they kept it. Anyway, Cayla (my 6 year old daughter) and I were curled up on the couch early Sunday morning watching Mr. Magorium when 2 things happened. The first is that Mr. Magorium (who I've quoted before) is talking to his young protege, Mahoney (played by Natalie Portman) when he reminds her that "Life is an occasion. Rise to it!" I had to pause the movie and write that down. The most awesome thing about the quote is that Jesus and Paul both taught the same thing 2,000 years ago. Jesus reminds us that He has set us free and given us the ultimate life. To live anything less is to miss the precious gift he provided for us in this life. Paul said the same thing when he reminded us to train our bodies as an athlete running for the prize. Finish Strong! Don't miss out on the life that Christ has provided. It was an amazing moment as Cayla and I talked about that very thing.
Then the second thing happened. Jason Bateman's character (they call him "Mutant") reminds Mahoney that she just needs to believe in herself and she will be successful. Cayla looked up at me and said, "Daddy, she needs to believe in God and not herself to be successful." Then, after a short pause, she nodded approval to her own thought, and went back to watching the movie. Boy, she was RIGHT ON! And there in lies the tension that I think we all live in. Celebrating the life that Christ has given to us without ever taking our eyes off of Him. If you are like me, when things are going right, or going well, you take the credit for it and revel in the achievement and recognition. It's only when things get "not so good" that we look to Christ. It seems like it's only in the dark times that I lift my eyes up and look away from myself. Paul lived in the same tension. He knew there were things he should be doing but wasn't. He knew there were things he shouldn't be doing but was. And in that tension, Paul lifts his eyes in recognition that the only resolution for this is to realize that any life he lived in his physical body was to be lived for Christ; lived out in faith and a tribute to the One who gave that life to him. Good or bad, up or down, your life is an occasion given to you by Christ to rise to in honor and worship of Him. My problem is that I usually only get half of the equation right. My little girl's reflection on the movie is what I leave with you today: don't believe in yourself...believe in the God who dwells in you and thru you who abundantly blesses and cares for you. Believe in the Jesus of the Cross who sacrificed His life so God would be exalted and we would reap the benefit. Have that mind in you that was in Christ, who richly celebrated life with service and who always rose to the occasion.