I absolutely could not pass up the opportunity to explore those elements that bring it to life so that you would not only be able to recognize it in your own life, but that you might become empowered to share grace with others.
Grace, being an attribute of God, and given to us through Jesus' death on the Cross, finds expression in so many forms throughout the film from which we can extract important truths.
Did you notice that Sandy's barking wakes Oliver up in the wilderness? Or that she also barks upon seeing Topper? I don't think it's a coincidence. In fact, I think it demonstrates a very important point: Grace is calling for you, right now, today. And it's waiting for you to respond to it, just as Oliver had to call out to be found, and Topper called out to Sandy. Each man ultimately had to make the choice to find and receive grace because grace, like love, is a choice.
...runs, it doesn't walk.
In both cases Sandy runs full speed to reach her intended targets, which, on top of Oliver and Topper also included Joe. One of the things it's easy to forget is that grace is for everyone, "for the grace of God... appeared...bringing salvation for all people." (Titus 2:11) He came thousands of years ago so grace could find you right this second.
...finds you, wherever you are.
"....Even if you get peanut butter and jelly all over it, and you drop it in the street and a car runs over it, and it gets ripped up in your bike chain?"
...reconciles what is broken in us, and in our relationships.
When each Topper and Oliver receive the gift of grace, they are able to make peace with certain parts of their past, restoring them to more complete, whole versions of themselves. By extension, this wholeness opened new, future opportunities in their relationships with the people around them.
When Christ died on the cross, He gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sins---our brokenness---so that we could be "...justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:24) We can only have a relationship with God because of this grace towards us. It is through this gift of being in relationship with God that we can find complete wholeness.
...restores peace and brings freedom.
"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (1 Peter 5:10)
...isn't earned, and it belongs to you always.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesian 2: 8-9)
It was an act of faith for Topper to continue reaching out to Sandy through the mail, and an act of faith for Oliver to finally pray. But it was God's gift of grace---visibly experienced through Sandy's arrival as their answers, and completely outside themselves---that ultimately saved each man.
More importantly, it was gift each man can keep. Neither Topper, nor us, will ever know the price that was paid to purchase Sandy from the company. No one expects him to pay it back. And if grace is the "free and unmerited favor of God," then He doesn't expect Oliver to pay it back, either. It's a gift freely given, but it must also be freely and completely received.
A few closing thoughts...
- One of the underlying reasons all of the men in Lost Without You went astray is because they forgot to "look up." Psalm 121: 1-2 reminds us, "I lift up my eyes to the mountains---where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." So "let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need," and whatever you do--- don't look down. (Hebrews 4:16)
- If you leave this post remembering nothing else, remember this: Christ did not die a horrific and ugly death on the Cross, defeat death, and ascend to sit at the Fathers' Right Hand so that you could remain in bondage---in any form. He died so that you might love "...the freedom, and the birds...[for you to] run out ahead and protect [others] from the bears." He came that you might have life and have it to the full, and that you might share that gift with others. (John 10:10)
Telling Norman and Oliver's stories just scratched the surface of the messages in Lost Without You. At the core is a powerful message about the healing and redemptive power of grace from which we can gather deep truths to claim for ourselves and for others.
Saved By Grace,
The Men In The Mirror: Norman | Oliver | Meet Grace