One of my favorite movies of all time is Grand Canyon, which came out in the early 1990’s. I can’t recommend it without qualification, as there are “adult” themes and scenes which make it inappropriate for family viewing.
However, there are also some great spiritual messages mixed in with some not so great material, which is why I like the movie so much.
In the early part of the movie, a successful LA lawyer, Mack, is rescued one night by a tow truck driver, Simon, when the lawyer is threatened by a gang in a dangerous part of the city. Mack and Simon become friends, and their friendship leads to some deep conversations.
In one of their conversations, Mack and Simon talk about whether their lives have any special meaning or purpose. In a line that I have always remembered since seeing the movie 26 years ago, Simon says to Mack, “Sometimes I feel like a fly on the back of a horse when a car is driving by at 70 miles an hour.”
What Simon is saying is that, to the occupants of the car, he doesn’t even exist. His life is virtually invisible to them and of total insignificance to anybody.
But then things start happening. Davis, a friend of Mack’s and his wife and a producer of violent films, has a spiritual awakening. Mack’s wife, Claire, finds a newborn baby in some bushes and sees the discovery as part of a divine plan. Simon’s sister and her son become the victims of violence resulting from the son’s involvement in a gang.
In the final scene of the movie, the main characters are pictured on the rim of the Grand Canyon, just gazing out at the amazing scene, saying nothing.
The message of the final scene is obvious from what has taken place in the movie up to that point. The life of each one of us may seem like a tiny drop of water in the Colorado River. Over time, however, each drop makes a difference. Combined with other drops, each of us contribute to something astoundingly large and beautiful. We have to be content to be just a drop and be the kind of drop intended for us when we were created.
My friend Deacon Kenny Longbrake spoke recently on this theme in a talk he gave at a retreat. He described God’s plan of salvation as a huge mural, and each of us is supposed to paint something on the mural by contributing our life to the service of God’s plan for humanity. Deacon Kenny said that, even if our part of the plan is to paint a single eyelash on the mural, we have to be content with that if that is the role that God created us for.
The key is for each of us to seek God’s will for our lives, discover the meaning and purpose of our life as intended by the Creator, and then live out that meaning and purpose as faithfully as we can. Who of us can object to being part of such an amazing masterpiece?