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Run, Forrest! Run!

September 4th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 3: 11-12  (NLT)

 11 My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
      and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
 12 For the Lord corrects those he loves,
      just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Forrest Gump has to be one of my top three favorite movies of all time.  Tom Hanks’ performance combined with a killer screenplay secured the film’s place in the fabric of our culture.  Nominated for thirteen Oscars and the winner of six in 1994, adults and youth alike still quote lines from the movie as if it was just released yesterday.  My “I’m not a smart man, Jenny . . .” impression is less-than-stellar, but still an integral part of my personal vernacular.  

I think that the movie strikes the right chord with so many viewers because it’s so broad.  I mean, what else could possibly happen to one man in one lifetime?  In fact, I’ve often laughed when students in my history classes used to confuse the events of the movie with historical fact.  Look! For the last time, Forrest Gump did not expose the Watergate Scandal!  Go to the principal’s office!

The beginning of the film is masterful in its character development.  Forrest Gump begins life behind the eight ball.  As if his awkward speech development and borderline IQ isn’t enough, his legs are crooked.  The doctor fits him with a very cumbersome metal brace that he must wear on both his legs.  The poor little boy can barely walk in these braces and he instantly becomes the target of ridicule and abuse from his peers.

However, in his case, these braces are necessary if he is ever to walk correctly.  Are they comfortable or popular?  Well, a couple of rocks upside his head quickly answers that question! Does he enjoy wearing them?  Obviously not.  But, realignment and correction of his legs are necessary for his future success.

Sally Fields, the actress who plays Forrest’s mother, is constantly faced with the difficult task of helping an already challenged little boy make the adjustments he needs to give him the potential of a normal life.  Was this easy for her?  No doubt it wasn’t.  What was the best choice for her to make?  Allowing her son to stay comfortable and not wear those braces might have spared him a few bullies, but it would have ensured a lifetime of pain and disability.  In the end, the comfortable choice was not the best choice for her child.

None of us want to be corrected.  The word “discipline” gives us the heebie-jeebies.  No one longs to be grounded, demoted, or sat down for a good “come to Jesus meeting.”  Society has devalued the process of correction.  We won’t admit that we don’t always know what’s best.  We prefer to continue doing the wrong or harmful thing rather than face the difficulty of personal discipline or correction.  Look, I don’t care that I’m doing it wrong and that I’m going to hurt myself in the long run!  Just leave me alone and don’t hurt my feelings!

But correction isn’t an expression of rejection; it’s an expression of love.  This passage speaks to us a crucial truth: there are times that God will allow discomfort to enter our lives in order to realign our “spiritual” legs for our long-term benefit.  God “delights” in His children so much that that He is committed to the health and success of our lifelong walk.  If that means discipline in the present, it’s well worth it.

The braces suddenly make sense in that incredible scene where the boys start pelting Forrest with rocks.  Jenny yells those famous words, “Run, Forrest!  Run!”

Run?  Forrest can’t run.  His legs are crooked.  He’s got those huge braces that keep him from even walking straight.  Ah, but the willingness of a loving parent to realign her son suddenly pays off and Forrest sprints away from his attackers, braces flying off in pure cinematic slow-motion glory! Hence, Forrest Gump is poised for his running destiny and it all can be traced back to a parent who was willing to correct her son’s crookedness.  

From our viewpoint, it may be hard to see anything but the uneasiness and embarrassment of God’s correction in our lives . . . but He sees the future moment that we’ll run right out of our braces and sprint to safety and fulfillment.

So take it easy on God.  His discipline is just another expression of His great love for us . . . His children.  Hey, I’m not a smart man . . . well, you know the rest.


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