MAJOR SPOILER ALERT !!! Proceed accordingly….
So Rob and I watched Arrival last night. It is moody and a bit slow, but well done. I said out loud that I hoped that they would do something different – since I hadn’t read the book first and admittedly didn’t even know it was a book first – than the usual “Alien Contact Oh Nos!” scenarios. They did. Sort of.
The beauty in this story is the question it asked, directly and indirectly, the ultimate question of freewill and predestination:
If you could see your whole life from the start to finish, would you change things?
We learn that the main character is seeing her future. She dreams of it. She knows exactly what is going to happen, and she still chooses to go through it all.
It’s beautiful. And it’s Jesus.
The main difference being, Jesus chooses to go through it all which ends in his own death and suffering and not the suffering of his children. It’s a pretty big difference. The frustration of someone choosing to have a child she knows will become ill and die is a deeply layered ethical question. Perhaps the author was wrestling with some choices of his own, and perhaps he had to make sense of knowing that the most precious choice is life itself. I think that rings true in the story and in life. We make decisions based on what we know. We try to be reasonable. We try to gather information and we try to be wise. It is still so precarious.
Does knowing the future change a person? “What if the experience of knowing the future changed a person? What if it evoked a sense of urgency, a sense of obligation to act precisely as she knew she would?”
What if we who believe in the redemption of all things acted as if we knew that was going to happen, as if it is already happening, as if we contributed to that happening? What if we knew that everything in our lives so far, all the good and all the bad, worked together to put us in such a place, at such a time as this, to bring about the glory of the King? What if we knew that everything that will happen, all the bad and all the good, will complete that work in us, will further His kingdom and will present us on that final day in blameless, pure glory? Would we do something else? Would we act differently? Would we repent faster? Would we love better? Would we engage us more winsomely? Would we speak more kindness and less anger? Would we embrace every moment? Would we, to borrow a phrase, suck out the marrow of life? Would we find pleasure and rest in the goodness and beauty of a life sacrificed and submitted to the One – the ultimate One – who loves it and bought it?
The One who saw you from a far off distance, and ran to you. The One who knew you would run away from him in the first place. The One who hung on the criminal’s tree. He knew it all. He stayed. He went through it all. He was born because He knew. He died because He knew. He lives because He knew. And He comes again because He knew…
What do I know?