La La Land and bated breath

La La Land and bated breath

It has been said by men wiser than I that oftentimes people quit just when they are about to succeed. While there is no way to prove this, yet something in many of us aches for it to be true. We want to believe that if we, or our loved ones, find the ability to persevere good things will happen. Just keep going, we say, and good things will happen.

The recent mega-hit movie La La Land reminded me of this. An aspiring actress submits to an endless wave of auditions that she finds generally demeaning. The whole process is fraught with hope and dashed dreams. After years of trying the actress gives up and moves from LA back to her little hometown.

It turns out she had just caught the eye of a big casting director. Her former boyfriend drives to her little town and makes an impassioned plea for her to realize how great she is, and to come subject herself to one more audition. It is a moving moment because he is trying to be encouraging, to build her up, and that is all too rare an action these days (especially as an action of a man towards a woman). As a viewer I sat forward, I wanted her to be willing to give it a shot.

The boyfriend tells her he will be out front of her parent’s house at 8 a.m. to drive her, if she shows up great and if not, he will head back to LA alone.

Man, did I ever want her to be there when he drives up! 

The next morning, he pulls up…it’s 8:03…she isn’t there.

Crushing disappointment for the viewer, for the boyfriend whose speech wasn’t enough to call the best out of her, he couldn’t build her up to her full flourishing potential no matter how hard he had tried, no matter how sincere he had been. The audience holds its collective breathe.

Pause us right there. I won’t tell you any more about the movie in case you haven’t seen it yet.

God is always calling out to us, he is our great cheerleader. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing, Jesus tells stories of father waiting, eye on the horizon, for their lost children to come home, the psalms speak of a shepherd herding and protecting his sheep, Jesus says his sheep will know his voice.

Sometimes the word falls on good soil, sometimes in harder places.

I believe God feels as the audience does when the clock strikes 8:05 and the actress isn’t there. He wails for us when we don’t take the leap of faith. He sees us get close, but he is gentle, and he is kind, and few are the people who respond to a loud call, a voice from heaven calling them to faith or a new vision of the future.

More often they answer to a whisper.

All of heaven waits with bated breath whenever a person is pausing on the edge, standing on the cliff of faith.

There are people in our families, communities, and churches who are standing there. God and heaven are watching, waiting, and acting. God has put us in their lives and paths. Are we playing the role of boyfriend? Are we bringing words of encouragement and hope?  Words to build up rather than destroy? Are we calling people to the greatness God has in store for them?

God forgive me when I don’t, when I lack the courage.

God can overcome my actions, but he can also put me to work.

May he use each of us so that the person reaches for the dream.




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