A few days ago, I dragged hubby to watch the (new) Left Behind movie. Well, dragged might be too dramatic a word to use here; he more or less humored me by going. When we discovered that the next showing of Gone Girl would be too late for us to catch, I enticed him with the idea of seeing Nicolas Cage on the big screen, and he agreed. (To be truthful, a psychological thriller about a marriage gone wrong probably wouldn’t be the best choice for a date night anyway, haha.) Thankfully, Nicolas Cage came through and made the movie more than decent. Okay, he basically carried the whole film with his gut-wrenchingly believable acting. (For more proof of Mr. Cage’s acting chops, check out Face Off.) If there’s any reason you should watch Left Behind, it’s him.
Other than that, if you really want the wonder and awe of an Oscar-worthy movie about eschatology (a fancy term for “end times”), you should just stick to the original script found in the book of Revelation. As a writer, I am more and more impressed by authors who write amazing stories, especially in the genres that I can’t, namely sci-fi and fantasy. Although the writer of Revelation is John, the creator of the events that unfold in those twenty-two chapters is God. And boy, is He an amazing author. As a kid in Sunday school and later on as a grad student in seminary, I used to think all the stuff described in the last book of the Bible was strange and out of this world. Now, as a writer, I am starting to see how amazingly creative the story really is. And how amazingly creative God really is.
Yes, it takes a lot of faith to believe in all the end time stuff that Revelation talks about, not to mention the rest of the Bible. Even for someone who began going to church at the age of seven, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the ideas that God exists, that mankind is sinful and that Jesus, God’s own son, came to earth to die for us.
If I can be honest, I’ve recently been going through a mid-faith crisis. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m reaching mid-life or I’ve just been allowing myself to ask some hard questions about what I believe in. I’m starting to see that the journey of faith that I am on, and I believe each person is on, goes through five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
What does each stage look like? Maybe something like this:
Denial – Does God exist?
Anger – Why does a loving God allow (fill in the blank) to happen?
Bargaining – If I do (fill in the blank), can’t I make it to heaven?
Depression – Will God accept me even though I’ve (fill in the blank)?
Acceptance – I have answers for all those questions above and believe, without a doubt, in Jesus.
I’ve been a believer for almost thirty years, yet I think I’m just starting to go through some of these stages. I’m sure the process is different for every person; there is no one correct formula or method. I think the important thing is to go through the stages and to be honest about our questions and thoughts. It helps to do research, too, to find the answers to your questions. I’m thankful to be able to voice my wacky and cynical thoughts to hubby and have him listen without judgment as I process through them.
I’m still journeying through the stages, sometimes going from one to another and back again. But I am starting to get answers and clarity. Through all of my wavering though, I know God hasn’t been upset or surprised by my pondering. After all, He’s the one who gave me a brain to think with. And the bottom line is, I know He won’t leave me, or anyone else, hanging if we truly want answers.
Oh, if anyone is wondering, yes, the five stages of faith are the same as the five stages of grief. Funny how that works, huh? But it makes sense, too. To truly believe in God means letting go of your own ideals about who God is and knowing there is only one God – and you’re not Him.
Here’s a song from Left Behind, Jordin Sparks’ cover of DC Talk’s “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”. (If you don’t catch the movie in theaters, Redbox it!)
Where are you currently at in your journey of faith?