Hollywood usually falls short when attempting to accurately illustrate a biblical principle. Yet, in the 1994 film Forrest Gump, the evolution of Gary Sinise’ character helps viewers understand what is means to make peace with God. Lieutentant Dan is born into a long lineage of military officers. In his mind, Lieutentant Dan believed he was destined to die on a battlefield in Vietnam along with his battalion. However, Forrest Gump’s act of bravery forced Lieutentant Dan to live the rest of his life on earth without legs. As Forrest ran off to pursue other aspirations in life, Lieutentant Dan was bound to a wheel chair. Bitterness grew within Lieutentant Dan’s heart until Gump became a shrimp boat captain. Volunteering as Gump’s second mate, Lieutentant Dan wrestles with his purpose on earth. During a major hurricane, Lieutentant Dan verbalizes his frustrations, welcoming the wrath of nature head on as if to seek a duel with God. After this storm passes, Lieutentant Dan makes peace with God.
One of the criminals who had been hanged [on a cross beside Him] kept hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us [from death]!” 40 But the other one rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?-Luke 23:39-40
A first century doctor, no stranger to death, shares a story about Jesus just before his death on a cross. For some reason, this encounter is glanced over by the other 3 gospel authors, skipped to cover other healings, miracles and stories. In the passage below, Luke reveals steps toward making peace with God. The first involves acknowledging your imperfections or as the apostle Paul once said, “falling short of God’s glory,” Romans 3:23. Once individuals confess their sins to God, step two is geared toward securing an eternal destiny. The disciple whom Jesus loved once proclaimed, “you don’t have to hope for an answer; you can know for certain,” 1 John 5:13. On their death bed, hanging from a cross, one criminal went to hell and other was promised to be with Jesus in paradise, heaven. This is one of the best biblical examples of making peace with God.
We are suffering justly, because we are getting what we deserve for what we have done; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, [please] remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” 43 Jesus said to him, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,” Luke 23:41-43.
Whenever I attend a funeral, enter an emergency room or take off in an airplane, making peace with God is brought to the forefront. Instead of reading a book or watching a movie, the fragility of life flashes through my mind. Sadly, most people don’t consider making peace with God until its too late. As my blood pressure sky rocketed yesterday while sitting in preop, I was powerless, unable to control my breathing. When my eye surgery was cancelled, too dangerous to perform due to my elevated blood pressure, my perspective on life changed like Lieutentant Dan in Forrest Gump. Maybe I won’t be the person I hoped for or be able to achieve the dreams that I aspire, but at some point I have to make peace with God. I guess it’s time to surrender my goals by yielding to God’s ultimate plan for my life on earth. Although I still don’t know exactly what that is, my recent health scare has provided me the opportunity to make peace with God where I am.
by Jay Mankus