In our house we have always encouraged our kids to read the book before they see the movie. I am a massive fan of films but once you have seen someone else’s enactment of a story then there is very little room for your imagination to do the work of creating your own version, and that is a real shame. To be able to see the characters as they are written instead of just the actors who interpret them, or to visualise the landscape of a place you have never been from the writer’s words before a location restricts your view – that is a real gift. Who is to say that your imagination might not do a better job without Hollywood restrictions? One of my kids is now on her second time through Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and she is lost to us! For her diligence she had won the right to watch the movies – but the only versions we own are the extended editions – that’s a total viewing time of 682 minutes (over 11 hours!). Quite a commitment but nothing compared to the original version played out in her head over the last few weeks.
I was reminded of this when I read through these chapters in Genesis again today – there is SO much going on. The writer, inspired by the Holy Spirit, has captured this next little section of Abram’s story – but it’s like an epic director’s cut because so much happens – it’s hard to know where to start!! The box office version would go something like this;
A handful of kings (including one named King Tidal – brilliant name!) form an alliance and go to war against another coalition of kings (including the King of Sodom). During the battle Lot (Abram’s nephew) gets taken captive. Abram and his private army of 318 men go and rescue Lot, his friends and all his stuff for which the King of Sodom is incredible grateful and wants to reward Abram. Abram wisely turns down the offer as he doesn’t want to be in this kings debt “not even a sandal strap”. Melchizedek the High Priest turns up, with bread and wine, and blesses Abram and God tells him that He will be his very great reward. God promises to make his family as many as the stars in the sky and Abram believes God and it is credited to him as righteousness! Abram and God make a covenant (involving fire and smoke passing through several animal halves) and God shows Abram in a vision some of the future of his family. However Abram still doesn’t have any children and Sarai is tired of waiting so they cook up a plan involving their servant Hagar. This doesn’t work out incredibly well because now Hagar is pregnant and despises Sarai, so Sarai treats her harshly and she runs away. God tells Hagar that she too will have descendants too many to count but she has to go back and submit to Sarai. Then Hagar gives God a name (!) “The God who sees me” and she gives birth to Ishmael (which means God hears). Then there is the covenant of circumcision (which I decided not to illustrate) and God gives Abraham and Sarah their lovely new names (meaning “Father of many” and “Princess”). I think you could spend a month or more just thinking about who God is revealed to be in this little section of scripture! But what I love especially is God speaking in and through all the action and drama. This is one of my favourite quotes;
“Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, and your very great reward.” Gen 15:3
If I was making the movie of this story I would probably put this on the poster, and reading through this story today, playing the movie in my mind, this is what I want to write on my heart – “Don’t be afraid” – there is no need to fear whatever twists and turns the plot takes on this adventure, whatever scene I might find myself in, whatever battles I may face. “I am your sheild”- He is my protection, my hiding place, my shelter and my covering. In Christ I am safe – safe from my enemy and safe from the judgement I deserve. “I am your very great reward” – God tells Abraham, about his desendants, that He will be their God. Theirs! And that means that He is mine too – my God. He is Very Great – beyond measure, limitless. He is all the reward I need. I don’t even need a sandal strap’s worth of reward from anywhere or anyone else – He is everything and more, all the treasure – more precious and costly, more beautiful than any other. Nothing can compare to knowing Him.
And I glued in some sparkly stars.
Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read – if you want the extra epic extended edition then you’ll find it in Genesis 14-17. If you want Katy’s take on these stories then you should read Look Up! & You are the GOD that sees me.
Much love Rach x