HOLLYWOOD, CA – DECEMBER 14: Kathleen Kennedy, pictured with First Order Stormtroopers.
As many may know, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had its world premiere last Monday night, and some of the comments from the film’s producer, Kathleen Kennedy, have stuck with me since then. According to Entertainment Weekly, she spoke to the crowds about several sets of coincidental encounters over the past several decades:
“I can’t believe we’re here! It’s a real privilege to make movies and everyone involved in The Force Awakens knows how lucky we’ve been to carry forward this incredible legacy that George [Lucas] began almost 40 years ago. The Star Wars saga is about a series of seemingly chance encounters. They impact the destiny of everyone involved. So… here’s a story for you:
“In 1962, an 18-year-old boy named George Lucas was drag-racing his car. He skidded out of control and wrapped his hot-rod around a tree in Modesto. My step-brother’s grandfather pulled George from the wreckage that nearly killed him… Fifteen years later, I stood in line for A New Hope, just like many of you, only to find myself later going to work with George Lucas and his best friend, Steven Spielberg,” Kennedy said, as Spielberg and Lucas listened, seated beside one another.
“Steven’s next movie was Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was produced by George Lucas and written by Lawrence Kasdan (the co-writer of The Force Awakens)… After its release in 1982, a box of super-8 movies Steven made as a kid had long been lost, but were found,” Kennedy said. “I hired two 16-year-old young filmmakers to restore them. One of those boys was J.J. Abrams… We paid him $300, then we watched for 30 years as his career flourished. When George offered to have me step into one of the greatest jobs in show business, taking the reins of Lucasfilm, ushering in new Star Wars films, only one person seemed perfect to direct that first movie. J.J. has incredible talent, a love of Star Wars, and enormous respect for George… And destiny? Fate? I had to ask myself: was every one of these events, this whole progression, moving toward this? Is it the Force? I think so. If I’m right, then tonight, may the Force be with us all.”
Now, I know producers are always in the perpetual business of building up their movies, and that hype is their game from beginning to end. All of that ‘the Force is real’ talk at the end is just for fun… surely. Regardless, I was struck by how all of these lives, separate strands in the tapestry of the making of this cinematic saga, were connected, even years ago, without each of them knowing at the time. My mind began to think of all the ways God orchestrates so much in our lives without us directly knowing. Many things God does in our lives are only evident and understood (even minimally) with a little hindsight. You may be thinking that I could take this article and turn it into a weighty piece about pro-Calvinist views versus free-will as playing a part in salvation. I could, as the thought came to me to do so, but that discussion did not begin here, and it wouldn’t end here either. Still, both sides of the argument must see the God shown in the Bible to be an omnipotent and omniscient God Who has pull and control in ways that we humans cannot even fathom with the vantage point of our own lives here on Earth.
HOLLYWOOD, CA – DECEMBER 14: Sphero BB-8 attends the World Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the Dolby, El Capitan, and TCL Theatres on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
I know what you may be thinking, clicking this article. I am aware that the article’s title may make one think, “Really? He’s gonna try to tie the concept of God’s providence into this movie?”
Trust me; I am not trying to denigrate the elevated position of God that Scripture shows. I’m also not trying to elevate the practical importance of the Star Wars canon to people’s lives. What I ask is that we look at my topic from the position of seeing providence slightly removed from the context we usually regard it as Christians and students of the Bible. Yes, providence is deeply rooted in the guiding and protecting hand of God, but in an alternative definition I found, it means “timely preparation for future eventualities.” With this definition in mind, it’s hard to argue that such seemingly random occurrences don’t have something to do with each other, leading to the formation of the film. I believe from this perspective, “providence” has culminated in what looks to be a wonderful continuation of the Star Wars saga. Even though I believe God has his hand in the extraordinary in this world, as well as the mundane, seeing “providence” mentioned as responsible for a film could seem mildly blasphemous to some. Truly know that I do not mean to cause any distress. Instead, what I’d like to do is use this as an opportunity to transition back into a view of godly providence that is applied to us all. I share a particular Psalm, one that has stayed on my mind since hearing these remarks at the premiere. It speaks in regard to the amount of knowledge and control God has in each of our lives:
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.
If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Today, I don’t write this as a deep analysis of this particular psalm (to be entirely honest, my anticipation for the film is at a distracting high level). I will leave that to the future work of my fellow Geeks Under Grace writer, Ricky Beckett, who just started a phenomenal series, Geeking About The Psalms, that will eventually cover this passage in depth (you should absolutely check out this series and get hooked into it at the beginning). Instead, I write this piece as encouragement for you each to know some vital truth: God knows each of us intimately, whether we know Him or not. He places people, events, and circumstances in our lives that challenge us and build us into the unique individuals that each of us are. We can be built up or allow ourselves to be defined or destroyed by things in our lives, and none of these events are unknown to Him. There may be people we meet seemingly by chance who prove integral to our lives years later. There may be contacts made remotely or online (here through Geeks Under Grace or elsewhere), that we may never meet face-to-face, who come into our lives and, in time, change us greatly.
While Kennedy’s comments are admittedly cool about all the power players behind The Force Awakens, trust me when I say that there are much more important and wonderful things God has in store for each of us. At the end of the day, no matter how much we may enjoy Star Wars (and trust me… I do), all of the movies are just that–movies. Very important pieces of cinema history, each a part of an ongoing saga, but still… just movies. They are fantasy, make-believe, science fiction stories that will entertain millions of people; still, they are earthbound in their reach.
Here in our day-to-day reality, God is working together your story and my story, and our lives do not end here among the good and bad of the everyday. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we accept his gift of eternal life, and God continues to weave into our lives people and events that can grow us in our Faith and lead us to even greater things than we would have found left to our own devices. I challenge you to look everyday for all of the ways God is helping you write your story, and never shy away from what He has in store for you. You may read the greatest of novels and watch the most engaging of film series, but I want you to know that your life is the greatest story you will ever know… Yes, even more so than that story a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
When it comes to your life, live it, love it, and seek the One who makes it all possible.
Colby Bryant currently serves as the Music/Youth Minister of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Hugo, Oklahoma, and he served as Pastor of Archey Baptist Church in Soper, Oklahoma for several years prior. He and his wife, Stephanie, have three children. He enjoys adding to his extensive knowledge and collection of movies and TV by watching and collecting as many as he can, and he gets in as much video game and tabletop playtime as his schedule will allow.
*** John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, "I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life. NO ONE comes to the Father except through me." ***
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