A new Facebook friend made a comment this week about how she, as a sensitive person, cannot watch horror movies. I can’t either.
I liked it better when the dinosaurs looked like they were from the Plasticine Era. This CGI stuff is just getting too real. Horror movies with their detailed scales and teeth, gallons of fake blood, strings of artificial mucous, creepy music and over-the-shoulder shots are abhorrent enough, but what really unsettles me is psychological thrillers. The grandmother/therapist/best-friend/baby did it? You can’t trust anybody! Paranoia on a stick. Why would anybody feed themselves this stuff?
Well, I did, or used to. My brother and I snuck out of our rooms after our parents were asleep to watch “The Outer Limits” or “The Twilight Zone.” We kept the volume on the TV so low we had to lean in to hear. The buzz of the old set added to the flickering light ambiance of tension — and the fear of being caught. After the show I would tiptoe back to bed and lie awake all night, planning what I would do if aliens landed in the backyard. For months I ran past lamp posts or neon signs that made that same buzzing noise, fearing I was being followed by something equipped with a death ray.
Nowadays, if the boys ask me to watch a horror or action flick with them I usually turn them down. I think even chick-flicks should come with emotional content warnings. My empathic tendencies have been traumatized by too many.
You see, I’ve discovered prayer doesn’t work in a movie (except to mercifully let the thing end or break the projector or something.) If I was running from a monster, scaled or coifed, I would be praying, “HELP!” or at the very least “OhGodOhGodOhGodOhGod…” (How do people cope without being able to call on him?)
But God doesn’t respond to lies. He’s not afraid of computer-generated dinosaurs. He never falls for clay or cartoon creatures. He knows the hunter never shot Bambi’s mother because Bambi’s mother was never in danger. She was not real. Bambi was not real. Godzilla is no threat to Bambi either. Asking God to respond and save us from imminent hypothetical danger is like my two-year old granddaughter hiding behind my legs and squealing that her brother is going to gobble her up – with a plasticine monster.
“You’re okay honey,” I assure her. “It’s only a pretend monster.”
This got me thinking about how the Holy Spirit responds to fears that have us quivering behind locked doors as we read scary predictions in the media, both broadcast and social.
Sometimes I cry out for deliverance and there is silence. Sometimes, when I join Chicken Little’s persuasive campaign and yell, “The sky is falling,” the Lord hands me an umbrella.
“Will this protect me from the falling sky?” I ask.
“No. But there will be rain later – the same kind of rain that has been falling off and on for centuries. Get a grip, girl.”
I have noticed that Jesus never allowed himself to be caught up in hypothetical questions. “What if…” His answer? “I will never leave you.”
It’s not that bad stuff never happens to good people. The devil still prowls around messing things up. You still reap what you sow. Corrie Ten Boom told the story of how, as a child, her father never burdened her with the responsibility of carrying a train ticket until it was time to get on the train. I think grace for trials is like that. The Lord will hand us our grace ticket when we need it. There is no provision in advance for “what if” questions because there doesn’t need to be. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, but there is no provision of supernatural intervention in a situation that we created in our own fear-based mind.
“Lord! Help me! I am under attack! The devil’s got me in his sights! What’s that strange buzzing sound?”
“You’re okay, honey. Shut the TV off and go back to bed. And quit watching that junk. It’s time to rest.”