Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Changing His Attitude Will Take a Miracle

Note: This is the first in a series of guest posts from my Advanced Preaching students at Kentucky Christian University.  I (and they) would appreciate your feedback!

Guest Author: Hunter Fraley (@hunterfraley)

I have struggled with having faith before, as I am sure we all have.  Stubbornness and fear of change are two of the very few things that we as humans do well.  I believe one of Jesus’ greatest miracles is breaking down the barriers men and women have built around their hardened hearts.  How many of us could say that only a near-death experience has saved us from our stiff-necked selves? That is exactly the case for the eponymous protagonist of 2008’s Henry Poole is Here.

Caring little about the logistics of the purchase, Henry Poole is more than willing to do anything it takes to close the deal, including overpaying for the property.  His days are spent drinking and eating whatever junk food he shovels into his mouth.  The monotony of his unhealthy lifestyle is only broken by his neighbors, a cavalcade consisting of a devout catholic, a struggling divorcee, and her mute 7 year old daughter.  To make matters worse, his neighbor Esperanza (devout Catholic) believes she can see the face of Jesus in a botched stucco job on his patio wall.  Much to the chagrin of Poole, she spends copious amounts of time sneaking into his backyard with her church friends to admire the stain.  Poole eventually befriends the divorcee (appropriately named Dawn)and her daughter Millie.  It is then that we learn that he has been diagnosed with an unnamed terminal illness.

To everyone but Poole, the stain seems to have a restorative quality, healing those who touch it.  The first claims are easy for him to dismiss, however, when Millie begins to speak for the first time in over a year, we would assume this would be enough evidence for Poole to be willing to have faith and try himself.  He struggles with the decision one night and when his fingers were a mere few inches from the stain, he lets the fall limp and slowly turns to saunter back inside.

A certain scripturecomes to mindas I remember this scene.  Matthew 13: 14-15 references a prophecy of hard-heartedness being fulfilled.  It speaks of hearing yet not understanding, seeing yet not perceiving; however, it is not because ability is lacking, but because the ears have been filled and the eyes taped shut willingly.  These conditions are attributed to a heart calloused by indifference and doubt.  Poole is a man who has lost hope, truly beaten to a pulp by life.  He refuses to have faith in anything because he is terrified by the thought of being let down by hope 

Things come to a head one day when Poole returns home to realize Esperanza has promised healing to hundreds of people congregated in his backyard.  He promptly smashes through the face of the stain with an axe repeatedly.  Moments after belittling the masses for their blind faith, the weakened structure of the wall allows the roof to partially collapse, crushing Poole beneath the weight of rubble and his own miserable existence.  Poole awakes in the hospital, surrounded by his neighbors who tell him some startling news: his terminal condition had been misdiagnosed.  His dismal outlook had left no room for him to get a second opinion. The stain may have not healed him physically, but it introduced him to people who go on to lead him on a journey to emotional and spiritual healing.  Had his hard-heartedness allowed it, he could have started towards happiness long ago.  What will it take for us to soften our hearts and allow ourselves to be healed?


Kate said...

I have felt like this before, feeling lost and hopeless. It is so easy to feel that way and give up. But to believe and reach out and have faith is hard but very rewarding. After you let go it is a mind changing experience.

Anonymous said...

I think every Christian can relate to this message. Having faith in something as miraculous as healing is much more difficult than being cold, callous, and unbelieving. It is so very important that our we be enlightened through stories such as this in order to reafirm our faith and understanding in the Lords power.

Jeannie Setters said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog. I think that it is really sad that some people have to have something bad happen to them before they realize God's grace and how awesome that he is. Great blog!

Nolan said...

We as humans have learned to avoid things that stir us or take us out of our comfort zones or that cause any negative emotion what so ever. To be uncomfortable for most people is unquestionably a bad thing. And faith can some times be uncomfortable. It requires accepting uncertainty and all the negative emotions that comes with it. I think it is the testimony of God's people that shows others that it is ok to have these feelings, and that these feelings don't really define the actual experience of faith at all. It is those simple acts of humility, like admitting that as a student in Bible college that you struggle with faith sometimes to, that make a world of difference. Because after you admit your struggles you have such a strong testimony of the transformative and liberating power of Christ that this helps others understand that faith isn't so frightening after all, but that it is the the very opposite of those initial feelings! After we give it a chance faith in Jesus brings peace, calm, and a happiness that can't be be explained through any other avenue! Loved your blog,it a great blessing in the middle of the week when we all need a spritual pick me up!

BD Bandit said...

Nice blog post buddy. The movie sounds nice and you did well in breaking it down. You are a gentleman and a scholar.