When God Speaks To You (Personally) Through a Movie

Here’s one from someone named Paul Zahl: I think we’re all agreed that movies and […]

Mockingbird / 11.15.16

Here’s one from someone named Paul Zahl:

I think we’re all agreed that movies and television have the power to help us abreact (i.e., bring to the surface) grief, feel (vicariously) painful emotions, and illustrate in arresting ways the Grace of God. It has almost been a “plank” in the platform of the Mockingbird project, that the visual arts, together with music, are marvelous ways in which profound convictions and universal experiences can be conveyed and observed.

I’d like to take this just a little further — “Just a Little Bit” (Beau Brummels). I’d like to ask you the question: Through what movies has God spoken to you directly?

little_boy_ver2Not talking about visual demonstrations of Grace, or fresh ways of conveying the Old, Old Story. They’re great, and I think we almost all can name some. Not talking about analogy, in other words; or metaphor; or even parable. Not talking about parallel experience, with which a viewer can associate his own experience, especially the subjective part.

Rather, I’m asking you, through what movies has God spoken to you directly? In other words, you were down in the dumps, and you saw a movie, and the Lord spoke to you through that movie. The Lord said to you, concretely through the movie, Do this! Or the Lord said, You’ve been wrong about thus-and-so; Do that! Or maybe He said, No!: “You Can’t Do That” (The Beatles).

I would bet that several readers of this piece could name one or two or even three movies that have literally changed their lives. These would probably be films that took you by surprise. Maybe you saw them “by accident”, serendipitously, when you were down; or when you were in a box canyon of shut-down hopes and rejection, a cul-de-sac of “I’ve been down so long, it looks like up to me”.

Think about it. Can you name one? Can you offer the name of a movie through which God said, “Well done, thou good and faithful” (i.e., a word of desperately needed encouragement). Or He said, “Stop in the Name of Love!” – The Supremes (i.e., “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl” – The Beatles). Or, “Hang on, Sloop/Sloopy, hang on” — The McCoys — you still have a chance.

Try to put this experience, of being addressed by the divine God in concrete personal terms by means of a movie during a period of stress, your own way. Translate what I am trying to say into your own life history. I would bet there’s a movie or two through which God spoke to you directly.

For the record, and as a kind of personal witness, let me give you mine. I’ll also refer to my wife Mary’s at the end, which are different from mine, needless to say, but just as important to her as mine are to me.

Here are three movies, which, during times of confusion and beleagueredness, have conveyed “Words of Love” (The Beatles) when I felt up against the wall. Without giving too much away, I’ll try to say why.

1) Little Boy (2015)

Little Boy is a movie about faith the size of a mustard seed which can move mountains. If I told you the plot of the movie, you might think to yourself, this sounds like it’s more about the subjective faith of an individual than the Grace through Faith which Justifies. So I don’t think I can do justice to this unique remarkable movie by telling you its plot.

I saw Little Boy by accident! A wise friend of mine, who had himself seen it by accident, grabbed my lapels, almost roughly, as it were, and ordered me to see it. Because I trust him, I saw the movie. And am still in recovery.

God spoke to me directly through Little Boy. I mean, like a voice from Heaven — an imperative from Our Heavenly Father. How so, you may ask?

I’m not telling. What I will say is that ‘Little Boy’s “Ancient List” corrected something important in the way I was praying about something important to me. ‘Little Boy’s’ prayer for his father’s return from war corrected the way I had been praying about something in my own life. Little Boy lifted me off the ground, and landed me back on it, but on my head. I feel eternally grateful to Little Boy.

2) The Egyptian (1954)

What in the world? A ‘Biblical’ spectacle with Gene Tierney and Victor Mature, made in 1954 and based on a now-forgotten novel by Mika Waltari? Yes!

The Egyptian fascinated Jack Kerouac, which is the reason I first wanted to see it. Turns out it concerns the Pharaoh Akhenaten, who rejected the Egyptian pantheon of God in favor of the One God, Aten. It is an amazing story, expertly filmed by the director of Casablanca.

God spoke to me through The Egyptian. How so, you may ask? I’ll tell you. The Egyptian gave me permission to become a mystic (a little) and retreat to the desert (in my case, Central Florida); and protest this fallen world by means of retreat and not engagement. That may not be a position to hold forever, but it gave me a divine Word of sympathy and sustaining at the right time. Through The Egyptian, God said, “You’re on the right track, Paul. Maybe not forever, but for now. Walk Like an Egyptian.” That’s what God said.

3) The Sentinel (1977)

I talk about this movie a lot. It’s an out-and-out horror movie, and takes no (or very few) prisoners. It is blunt like a mallet and explicitly Christian to the max and one scene in The Sentinel is “over the top”. The people that made The Sentinel did not pull their punches.

But God spoke to me through The Sentinel. How so, you may ask? I’ll tell you. The Sentinel told me, in movie terms, that “the Everlasting hath fixed His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter” (‘Hamlet’) — that I did not under any circumstances have permission to kill myself or allow another to do it for me. The Sentinel plants its standard against suicide in any form, and is therefore obnoxious and unwelcome to the part of me that might wish to give up. Sometimes I used to think to myself, when reviewing my life and circumstances: “Hey, maybe it’s time to check out. You’re not having much fun. Your family is provided for. You’ve had some good times. But you’ve also had your eye gouged out and your right arm cut off. Why not give all this a miss?” Not that I was seriously considering it, but I’ll bet you’ve had some thoughts of that nature when you were in an unhappy time.

The Sentinel told me — God said to me through The Sentinel — “Don’t Do It” (The Band). I hope His imperative sticks. The movie’s been a help.


Well, those are my three. They are movies through which God has spoken to me directly. I wonder what yours are.

Mary came out with two, just like that, when I asked her. Mary’s are Random Harvest (1942) and Sense and Sensibility (1995). You’ll have to ask her why. And I think she’ll tell you.

Over to you now. Through what movies has God spoken to you directly?