*Don't read if you don't want it spoiled!
Big Red and I finally went to go see Evan Almighty yesterday after our pastor mentioned it in his sermon. He noted that even though Dobson isn't promoting this movie (check out his review at the end of the article on Plugged In), our pastor found himself in tears. After seeing the movie, I understand why.
The movie starts out with Evan becoming a congressman and being concerned with how others view him. He goes to the extent of buying a new house, Hummer, and shaving his nose hairs...yes, shaving.
The night before his first day in office his wife lets him know what she just heard their sons praying for. She lets Evan know she prayed as well - for their family to be closer. Then, she asks him what he'd pray for. He shrugs it off, until she mentions his political campaign was to change the world and that if it were her, she'd want all the help she could get. So, once she's asleep, he kneels and asks God to help him change the world.
Now, no matter how sincere he was or what HE thought would change the world, God hears him and gives him an unusual way of fulfilling his prayer - whether he wants to follow the plans or not. To me, this idea is huge - God hears you! Whether you're full of Him or full of yourself, He hears you. From the outside, I can see that the way He fulfills Evans prayer can be considered a bit scary. If you pray for something, you had better be prepared for Him to do something. Talking to God is serious business.
I discussed some of the different aspects with my husband, esp. that of what James Dobson had to say. One thing that upset Dobson was the use of the phrase, "Oh my God." Big Red thought it wasn't disturbing at all, but somewhat satirical as with the use, God shows up. If you're going to cry out to Him, you'd better be looking for Him! Don't use His name without knowing Who it belongs to.
I loved how they played on God's sense of humor throughout the movie and how He gets our attention. I tend to find His humor daily and consider the moments as little kisses from above. Whether it's in catching us in our stupidity or in a baby making faces - God loves to make us laugh.
I can totally relate to Evan's thinking in God's "interference" with his life. At first, he's freaked out by all the "coincidences", fully knowing that God has His hand in it. He continually sees Gen 6:14, is followed by animals - two of a kind - and then has to cope with his changing appearance (hair and wardrobe). At first he runs from the idea that God is speaking to him and, after freaking out for a couple days, passes it all off as stress. Little by little we see him accept God's plan for his life. It leads up to the point where he's in congress, dressed in a robe (the suit he had so cleverly put on over the robe to hide it miraculously folded on his desk), his long hair loose from the pony tail and braid he had them in, and animals flowing in through the window, attracted to him. It isn't until this point that he completely surrenders. All of his clever plans to try to be normal have failed and all he has left is God's plan.
This is following the scene where God laughs histerically at Evan when he explains his own plans. Dobson's review states that "God is profoundly holy, and we are to approach Him with deep humility and reverence" and that the movie doesn't portray this. This scene, to me, is a reminder of His holiness and perfect will for our lives...and His sense of humor. Most of us silly little humans think that we have the greatest plan EVER for our lives - Go to college, get a degree, get married, makes lots of money, raise a family, be exponentially blessed by God, etc. - while God has bigger things for us. (It reminds me of the line, "If you wanna hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.") His profoundly holiness is eminent in His plans for our lives and it takes deep humility and reverence to follow those plans.
The night after Evan publically announces that God has told him to build this ark because a flood is coming, his wife is utterly embarasses and thinks he needs mental help. She takes the kids to her mother's. While gone, God meets her (unknowingly) where she's at and explains how He works. He asks her what her idea is of how God works - if you ask for patience, courage, or a closer family, do you think that God simply gives you these, or gives you opportunties to exercise them and to build a better family? In this, the movie deals with the issue of what it means to stick it out and BE a family. She decides to stick it out with her family and brings the boys back.
Once Evan starts the ark he gains an audience - ESPECIALLY once he starts looking like Noah. He starts slow with his sons' help and finds that God provides all he needs to complete the task given to him, including a strange old device that uses the idea of a hamster wheel to lift large pieces of wood. As his audience gains, the mocking increases. Yet, while the mocking increases, God is working on instilling Evan with trust in Him.
This is where I think our pastor broke down. The deadline God has set has come and the ark is finally finished. Evan lifts his rod and the animals fill the ark. At the same time, his rival, senator Long, has brought a force with him to tear down the ark. Once they swing back the wrecking ball, it starts to rain. Evan is stoked and demands that everyone needs to get on the ark as it's going to flood. A couple minutes go by and the rain stops. What is God doing?! Evan's worked so hard and followed His every word and is then abandonded to his critics? How could God have brought him so far with him KNOWING that he's been following His will and then not fulfill His promise? This is NOT going as expected!
Have you ever been there? "Lord, I've been doing my best to follow You, where have You gone?!" Does your faith waiver when things don't end the way you pictured? You could almost swear that God has been leading everything up to a specific point, but just as you see things unfold, there's a 180...or nothing. "Did I really hear from God?" "How could this all be for nothing?" "Lord, I stood when others were mocking me and now this?!"
But, of course, God doesn't abandon Evan (or us) and the valley floods in an unexpected way. Evan's critics rush on board just as the valley is destroyed by the flood of water, saving their lives. We see houses and cars, all previously meant to represent who these people were, now becoming rubble. Then, again, faith is tested as the ark heads straight for a bridge post. This time, Evan lifts his hands and cries out to God, Who miraculously saves them.
This movie left me with the prayer that I will stand by my husband even when I think he's nuts and don't understand. It also challenged me to have faith in God's lead, no matter the circumstances. God's plans are greater than mine and I need to trust that...especially since He can see the bigger picture and all aspects of His story!
*As a side note, another article on the movie is, Why Evan Almighty is not appealing to Christians. It notes that "Steve Carrell's body of work doesn't give confidence that he'll play the role well." Neither did James Caviezel before his role as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ. Unfortunately, seeing that Bruce Almighty (PG-13) has had amazing reviews, I would think that the lack of support of Evan Almighty (PG) would validate the profitability of less morally ranked movies. Sad.