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I have been to the movies only 3 times in my entire life.
Of course, I have seen a lot of movies. But when I say “the movies”, I mean going to the movie theater. The actual experience of seeing it on the big screen. Come to think of it, I only remember going to the theaters twice in my life…
The First Movie
I was not quite 2 years old when my parents took me to watch Toy Story. After the movie, Mom said it was too scary for a toddler. At least, that is what I have been told since I have zero memory of the movie.
After that, our family never went to the movie theaters. The closest thing was a nature movie in IMAX. Despite being 6 years old, I still remember how incredible it was. You walked into this enormous dome. But once the movie started, you were not in the dome anymore. You were there. Flying. Moving. Apart of whatever was happening on the screen.
What I remember the most about IMAX was what happened before the movie started. As they were showing previews for other nature movies, an enormous t-rex leaped out of the screen. I jumped out of my chair, closed my eyes, and it was over.
Whew. That was close.
My sister did not recover as fast. She ended up spending the rest of the movie buried in my dad’s arms. And for the first 13 years of my life, that was the limit of my movie-going experience.
The Second Movie
It was July 4th, 2008.
The movie Wall-E had come out and I was 13 years old. With nothing else planned that day and on the side of town where the theater was, we ended up watching the movie. My first time in the theater! Watching a real movie!
Well, I mean, that I could actually remember.
A year later, I was prescribed glasses. Then something interesting happened.
As we were walking through a department store one day, we went past the electronic section. TV’s lined the walls, all playing…Wall-E. I screeched to a halt. Wow. So that is what Wall-E was suppose to look like. I was shocked by how much I had missed.
Does that mean this movie doesn’t count either?
The Third Movie
Last year, December 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit the theaters.
We ended up watching the movie in a smaller venue, but it was still amazing. I don’t think there has been any other time (in recent years) where I felt so much like a child. A kid full of wonder and excitement – before the movie, during the movie, and after the movie.
Good grief, I was already 21 by that time. Embarrassing.
Delight in the Theaters
In a way, I am glad that we never went to the movie theaters.
By 22, I have a feeling most are already like, “Um…yeah, I mean theaters are cool…” But to experience such a deep level of wonder, awe, and delight – in your 20’s – was amazing. The question is: How long does this last? Does the feeling fade away after watching “x” number of movies?
That’s why WIRED’s article “You Won’t Live to See the Final Star Wars Movie” caught my interest. Whether making that many Star Wars movies is a good idea or not is beyond the scope of my blog. However, there is an interesting quote from Lawrence Kasdan, one of the writers for The Force Awakens.
On the first day, I said, look: Delight, that’s the word. In every scene, that should be the criterion we’re using. Does it delight?
Exactly what I experienced when watching this movie.
Delight on Another Level
Star Wars is one of the few movies that has tapped something deeper within a lot of people.
It has awakened a sense of Wonder and Delight. (Awakened – get it? See what I did there?)
Wonder is an emotional feeling caused by something beautiful. Amazing. Inexplicable. And all wonders we experience here are but empty shadows of a deeper, eternal wonder. Just last week, I came across an amazing quote by C.S. Lewis in the book “When I Don’t Desire God”. Lewis says:
There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else…
It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met out wives or made our friends, or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work…
All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it.
We have never desired anything else more deeply than an eternity with Christ. All other desires, delights, and wonders are just empty echoes of the real thing.
Reading Matthew 18:3-4 now makes a lot more sense. The disciples asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus responds:
Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
“Become like children”. Children full of wonder, delight, and innocence. Not jaded and cynical. Open, curious, alive. That is who Christ wants us to be.
The feeling of wonder I experience going into a movie theater is just a microscopic molecule in the endless ocean of wonder I am to experience in Christ. For now and for eternity.
2 Thessalonians 1:10 says that Jesus is coming:
…when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
On that day, we will marvel at Jesus’ glory. Then we will realize that every moment of wonder was just a fleeting glimpse of the reality of Christ.
The Fourth Movie
I have talked for 1,000 words now without even mentioning Rogue One. Here, let me say it: “I am super excited to watch Rogue One.”
“Clickbait!!!!” you scream.
But now, I think you can understand why I am so excited to watch Rogue One (tonight!). This will be my 4th movie. Wait, 3rd movie? Maybe 2nd depending on how you’re counting. Either way, I know it will be amazing.
And my excitement level could not be higher.
That is why stories are so powerful. Whether in a book or movie, stories have the power to influence, empower, and even change the way people view the world. But above all, stories have the ability to awaken a feeling of wonder and delight.
And an eternity of that is something I can’t wait for.