My parents ruined movies for me.
You see, when I was a kid we didn’t have over-the-air TV, let alone cable. All we had was one VHS player and twenty or thirty pre-approved tapes which I was allowed to watch once a week on Sundays. Nine kids later, my parents allow my siblings to watch TV every day at 5 p.m., but that’s a story for another time.
Suffice it to say, I got very familiar with the movies we did have. Toy Story. Snow White. Babe. It’s A Wonderful Life. The Lion King. I watched them over and over. The one thing they had in common? They were all classics. I don’t think I saw a bad movie until I was 12 or 13. Pretty cool, right?
You see, I thought all movies where that good. That there was a vast store of incredible films I simply wasn’t allowed to watch. Obviously, as an adult I was extremely disappointed to discover that the more movies I did watch, the more bad ones I saw. It kinda destroyed my illusions about the magic of the movies. Maybe that’s why I’m so obsessed with good stories – because that’s all I knew as a kid.
None of that really has anything to do with this post…well, actually it does. You see, one of the other films we owned on VHS was The Prince of Egypt, which includes this incredible scene:
As a kid, I thought it was just a cool scene, but now, I can’t watch it without crying. Why?
Because it’s loaded with great filmmaking, storytelling, symbolism, and insights into the spiritual life. To name a few:
- Moses isn’t some sort of larger-than-life biblical character. He’s a likable, relatable, regular guy. I think sometimes we forget that the heroes of the bible were people just like us. “It’s too early for this”? I could hear myself saying that.
- Moses finds the burning bush in the hidden recesses of a cave, which mirrors perfectly our own search for God: we have to seek Him, and when we do find Him, it’s in the silence, in the recesses of our own hearts. It’s in the cave, so to speak, hidden away from the rest of the world.
- Moses stumbles on the burning bush while focusing on his job as a shepherd. Often, the Lord speaks to us while we’re focusing on fulfilling our daily duties.
- The voice of God is actually played by the same voice actor as Moses, which beautifully represents how when we find God in the silence, He usually sounds like our own voice.
- God’s voice is the most amazing, mystifying, comforting voice I’ve ever heard. Amazing work by the production team.
- When Moses finds God, He identifies Himself as the god of Moses’ ancestors – causing Moses to remember the line “you are our brother” – symbolizing where he comes from and his place in the world. At this point in time, Moses has run away from Egypt and from his people, and God appears to him with a call to remember who he is. When we find God, He helps us truly find ourselves and where we belong in the context of His plan.
- “I have seen the oppression of My people in Egypt, and have heard their cry.” You can almost hear the pain in the Lord’s voice. There is no one who cares more about our oppression or our cries.
- Immediately after this line, we hear the flashback to when Moses stopped an Egyptian from lashing an Israelite. God is about to ask Moses to free the Israelites, a desire that was already on Moses’ heart. God put that desire on his heart, but in this one line we also realize that that it’s a desire that originates from God’s own heart.
- “A good land. A land flowing with milk and honey.” God wants His people to be happy. He wants us to be happy.
- In the face of God’s greatness and the overwhelming size of the task the Lord is asking him to complete, Moses is full of excuses. In response, God raises His voice, the music swells, and the Lord speaks my favorite line in the whole scene: “Who made man’s mouth? Who made the deaf, the mute, the seeing or the blind? Did not I? Now go!” We’ve all heard the cliché “with God all things are possible” but this adds a new spin to it. God made everything, even the body we use to accomplish His work. He knows our strengths and our weakness; our sight and our blindness, so to speak. Of course we can do what the Lord asks, because He knows perfectly what He’s asking and that we are capable because He made us.
- Moses crumbles to the ground in fear of the awesome power of God, and what does the Lord do? He softens his voice, reaches out, lifts Moses up, and lovingly comforts him. God knows how to speak to us in a way we will be able to understand and respond to.
- Overall thought #1: The Lord uses Moses’s name over and over. Can you imagine what it would be like for God to call your name? I would be blown away if I went to Hollywood and met a famous director and he said “oh, John-Andrew! I know you!” That’s exactly what God does every day. Every day He is calling me by name and asking me to return His love. Wat.
- Overall thought #2: Hans Zimmer absolutely kills it with the soundtrack.
Incredible, right? All of that meaning and symbolism packed into a 6-minute scene. It’s moments like this that have the power to do more than simply entertain us: they can pass on eternal Truth.
On some level, I think all of us are afraid of the big things the Lord might be calling us to. We’re full of excuses and fear…at least, I know I am. But the Lord isn’t a tyrannical God, scheming to ask me to do something I can’t and planning to smite me when I fail. He’s a personal God; a God who knows my name, calls it, raises his voice when I’m not listening, and then reaches out to comfort me when I cower at his power and my own weakness. That’s amazing. It’s comforting. It gives me hope.
So I guess in the end I have to thank my parents for ruining movies for me; for only surrounding me with the type of entertainment that would help me learn about Truth, the Lord, and where I belong in the world. It’s movies like that – the stories that raised me – that have helped form who I am today.