By Joel Hess –
This past week I enjoyed a great sci-fi film starring Tom Cruise: Edge of Tomorrow. It tells the story of a battle between alien invaders and a united military response from Earth. Yeah, quite an innovative plot! Sci-fi writers frequently assume earth will be one day united. This future unity usually looking like some modernist progressive wet dream (see Star Trek).
The alien enemy accidentally gives Cruise’s character the ability to rewind the day every time he dies in battle. Don’t ask how he received that ability. They explain it quickly in the movie but, as it is with many sci-fi plots, the explanation involves pseudo-scientific jargon which the author hopes will cause his audience to relent an assent, saying, “Whatevs. Show me some aliens.” Deux Machina, Hollywood style. Go ahead nerds, commence long winded angry comments proving how the plot is possible.
While I enjoyed Cruise’s character, Bill Paxton plays a major sergeant and got the best lines. Seriously if you like Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now, you shall enjoy this dude. So Cruise repeats the day and progresses each time until he gets it right, and defeats the alien. He even gets the girl. Groundhog Day meets Aliens. Good enough to entertain the proletariat for an evening.
Don’t you wish you could repeat the day, defeat the enemy, and get the girl? How far back do you want to go? Back to your junior cross country season so you could actually practice hard, party less and win the State Finals? Or perhaps your dream depicts that dance in 9th grade when you were too shy to ask so-and-so to dance? But now you are bold and beautiful!
I’ll bet you have a lot of missed opportunities you would like to correct, or mistakes you would like to reverse. How many things would be different in your life if you could go back and get it all right? Or perhaps, as a good Christian, you wish to go back to the Garden and warn Eve about the serpent and that not so pleasant pomegranate, saving us all from having to watch people like Tom Cruise succeed in life!
Ah, not so fast Steven Spielberg; there dwells a plot hole in this time bending movie you are directing of your life. You can’t go back. But worse, if you did, you wouldn’t get it right.
No matter how many times you tried. Like any good tragedy, the problem ruining our little documentary about ourselves lies not in the plot, but the characters. We don’t fail because we lack knowledge. We don’t fail because we make a couple of poor choices. We fail and die because we enjoy an abundance of that insidious desire to mess everything up! Education doesn’t really fix anything! Neither will time travel.
Hey, you know this to be true. Your life probably feels just like Tom Cruise’s character in this movie. Except, instead of slowly improving, you just feel like you are making the same mistakes over and over again! You are confronted by the same challenges all the time; you know the right answer, yet more often than not you keep doing or saying the wrong thing! Our lives look more like Groundhog Day, backwards! A cruel joke if there ever was one.
So stop putting your hope in time travel! Instead place it upon the One who comes from outside this time space continuum; the One who, in Himself, reset the clock. He put himself into Adam’s shoes, but instead of biting the forbidden fruit, He obeyed His Father. He cast out Satan and loved His neighbor as Himself, even His enemy, even you and me. Jesus Christ, the good Husband, is He who batted away that snake from His bride, the church. More than that, He repealed death, rolled back the stone, walked out of the tomb. Alive.
You can’t go back. But because the Living Christ forgives your sin and promises you resurrection, you can go forward! Which is far better! I dare say, I would rather be who I am now as a sinner who knows the Cross of Christ, than Adam before he sinned. Yes, I know, that is a hypothetical useless debate.
You are no longer a slave to time, but have been rescued. The enemy has been defeated, and the Hero gets the prize – you!