“Who Is Wise and Understanding?”
Who is wise and understanding among you?
Show by your good life that your works are done
with gentleness born of wisdom.
The wisdom from above is first pure,
then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.
On Sunday morning, I reflected with the congregation upon one of my favorite movies of all time: Forrest Gump. I’ve watched it more times than I can count, and each time I find myself thinking very, very deep thoughts about some of life’s simplest and most important things. Forrest was given the label “stupid” as a child. He also had a badly curved spine, which caused him to wear metal leg braces, and so he couldn’t walk like the other children at school. To say that he was teased and tormented would be a gross understatement. Fortunately, Forrest had a mother who loved him unconditionally and saw the potential in him. She made sure he stayed in his regular school and she constantly encouraged him to be and do his best.
For me, one of the most profound scenes was when Forrest’s mother was at home on her deathbed. Forrest first asks, “What’s the matter, Momma?”
She replies: “I’m dying Forrest.”
“Why are you dying, momma?”
“It’s my time; it’s just my time…. Don’t you be afraid sweetheart. Death is just a part of life, something we are all destined to do…. I happen to believe that you make your own destiny. You have to do your best with what God gave you.”
“What’s my destiny, momma?”
“You’re gonna have to figure that out for yourself…. Life is a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Forrest then says, “Momma always had a way of explaining things so I could understand them.”
Another character in the story who had a profound influence on Forrest’s life is his friend Dan, who was his lieutenant in Vietnam. Dan’s philosophy on life is a bit more grim than Momma Gump. At first, he thinks his destiny is to die as a soldier in the war. He came from a proud military family and had ancestors who died in every previous US war; he considers them heroes and plans to join them. This would be a noble and courageous death; and his family would be so proud of him. Yet, thanks to Forrest, he doesn’t die; he is severely injured and it looks as if he will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. His idea of destiny develops into this: we all just kind of float through life and land accidentally in different places beyond our control.
Perhaps my favorite quote of the entire movie was when Forrest was at his wife Jenny’s graveside just after she died. Jenny was Forrest’s childhood friend and his life-long love. Here is what Forrest said to Jenny as she lay buried below his feet: “I don’t know if momma put it right or it’s Lieutenant Dan; I don’t know if we each have a destiny or if we’re all just floating around accidental like on a breeze; but I think maybe it’s both; maybe both are happening at the same time.”
Listening to such deep wisdom made me ponder the truth of that statement. On the one hand, there is so much that seems outside of our control as we move along our journeys through life:
- We don’t get to choose what our IQ will be.
- We don’t get to choose if we are born with athletic or awkward bodies.
- We don’t get to choose if our families love and support us or are constantly trying to change us into being something we are not and doing thing with our lives that we have no inclination in doing.
- We don’t get to choose if we are born into wealth or poverty.
On the other hand, there are so many things in our lives that we do get to choose, especially what we do with the hand we are dealt.
- We all get to choose whether we live with gratitude for our blessings or with complaining that there are others who have more than us.
- We all get to choose whether we allow compassion and kindness to fill our hearts or fear and judgment.
- We all get to choose whether we will overcome our challenges or let them define us and become in our minds larger than they really are.
- We all get to choose whether we place our trust in God or in things that will constantly disappoint us.
The beauty of the movie is that Forrest seemed to understand the things he couldn’t change and the things he could, and because of that he created a beautiful life for himself and for the people around him.
All three of Sunday’s Scriptures reflected on wisdom (Proverbs 2: 1-10, James 1: 5-8 and 3:13, 17; Matthew 13:54-58). I invite you to take a look at my message and reflect on those Scriptures for yourself.
Kahu Alan Akana
Our Kahu (Pastor) offers a weekly message in church most Sundays during the year. Click HERE to see a video of his message from this past Sunday. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see many of his past messages and subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.
“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by the Kahu (Pastor) of Koloa Union Church, a congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.