OR, REGENERATION AND REDEMPTION
What does Morgan Freeman have to do with Redemption, right?
Well, last Saturday night we watched the movie “The Shawshank Redemption.” When I know a movie has Morgan Freeman in the cast, I immediately have a desire to watch that movie! That was the case on Saturday evening when my husband, my daughter and I decided to watch it. What a great movie! So much food for thought! Today I decided to write about my thoughts (if anybody cares to know what goes through my mind). Lol!
Oh, you haven’t watched it yet? You should! Maybe you want to stop reading this and go to Red Box right now and rent this movie. Or, maybe you have Netflix. But, if you want to keep reading, I will add here the sum of the movie (as per google search).
“In 1946, a banker named Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted of a double murder, even though he stubbornly proclaims his innocence. He’s sentenced to a life term at the Shawshank State Prison in Maine, where another lifer, Ellis Red Redding (Morgan Freeman), picks him as the new recruit most likely to crack under pressure. The ugly realities of prison life are quickly introduced to Andy: a corrupt warden (Bob Gunton), sadistic guards led by Capt. Byron Hadley (Clancy Brown), and inmates who are little better than animals, willing to use rape or beatings to insure their dominance. But Andy does not crack: he has the hope of the truly innocent, which (together with his smarts) allow him to prevail behind bars. He uses his banking skills to win favor with the warden and the guards, doing the books for Norton’s illegal business schemes and keeping an eye on the investments of most of the prison staff. In exchange, he is able to improve the prison library and bring some dignity and respect back to many of the inmates, including Red. Based on a story by Stephen King.”At the beginning you are right away confronted with the issue of “injustice.” What a terrible, horrible, bad world we live in! In many countries (more than we would like to admit) the justice systems are biased, corrupt and/or unjust! It’s been like that ever since Adam and Eve.
When you get past that….. then comes the issue of the penitentiary systems! If you are a person like me, born in a country and living in a different one. Or, if you are a person who travels much like I do. Or, if you are simply concerned about injustices all over the world, that’s one other issue to make you feel agitated when you watch movies like that.
Then, you get past the issue of prison systems (pretty much because there’s nothing you can do right now to change that situation) and you think about the corruption of the police and the prisons’ wardens as such – again, all over the world is the same thing, pretty much! It is very disturbing to think that, despite the fact that most people who are behind bars are there because they “deserve” to be there, the people who work on this side of the bars chose to work there and decided to let themselves be corrupted. They use and abuse those who have no choice because they are behind bars. On the one side, those officials deal with the “bad characters” every day and do have to be tough (I think). On the other side (of the bars) the “bad characters” have to survive in the midst of so many other “bad characters” who use and abuse each other just to establish some sort of hierarchy within those prisons. What a tough world that must be!
Nevertheless, there were a couple of great things in the movie that really tugged on my heart. The one I want to talk about is “hope.” Here is a dialogue between Andy and Red to help you get a little “feel” for the movie:Andy: I had Mr. Mozart to keep me company...[points and taps his head.] It was in here. [gestures over his heart] And in here. That's the beauty of music. They can't get that from you. Haven't you ever felt that way about music?
Red: Well... I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it, though. Didn't make too much sense in here.
Andy: No, here's where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don't forget.
Andy: That there are places in the world that aren't made out of stone. That there's... there's somethin' inside that they can't get to; that they can't touch. It's yours.
Red: What are you talkin' about?
Red: Hope? Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It's got no use on the inside. You'd better get used to that idea.
Andy: Like Brooks did? (Brooks had lived most of his adult life in prison. He was institutionalized. When he got freed, he ended up taking his life because he couldn’t take the freedom, he didn’t know what to do with his life).
So, that got me thinking about hope even more! What is hope? Why do we need hope? After having gone to Africa 6 times now, and seeing how the African people don’t have much hope, I have come to understand a few things. The Africans, for example, don’t live too long. Their life expectancy is only 40 years old. So, I understand why they wouldn’t have much hope. Hope for what? Life is VERY short for them! Why would they work too hard if they’re going to die anyways. Why would they desire a “holy” life, if at the end of the day their lives are way too short!Wise Solomon once said, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Prov. 13:12 NIV) Or as the ‘Message’ says, “Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around.”
Right? I don't think so!
So, Red had lost hope. He decided to just enjoy life in prison. He found a way to be useful for his colleagues (inmates). He was even afraid of being freed and end up like Brooks.
Once a year Red would go before an Officer’s Comission and be questioned as to whether he thought he had been “Rehabilitatated”. For about 40 years he tried to convince them that “yes” he was ready to be freed, he had learned his lessons and he could go back to society. Here is his last encounter with the commission (forgive me for printing some curse words, I’m just copying them, I don’t use them nor believe in them!):
Rehabilitation Officer: Ellis Boyd Redding, your file says you've served 40 years of a life sentence. Do you feel you've been rehabilitated?
Red: Rehabilitated?... Well, now, let me see. You know, I don't have any idea what that means.
Rehabilitation Officer: Well, it means that you're ready to rejoin society, to-
Red: [Interrupting] I know what you think it means, sonny. To me it's just a made-up word. A politician's word, so that young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie and have a job. What do you really wanna know? Am I sorry for what I did?
Rehabilitation Officer: Well, are you?
Red: There's not a day goes by that I don't feel regret. Not because I'm in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can't. That kid's long gone and this old man is all that's left. I gotta live with that. Rehabilitated? It's just a bullshit word. So go ahead and stamp your forms, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don't give a shit.And, then he was set free!
My conclusion? He was set free once he showed the commission that he had really understood why he had gone to jail, and proved to them that now he was really thinking “right!” It didn’t help him just to say the right words year after year. It helped him when he really understood what life was all about (after 40 years in prison).
Hope? Hope is what keeps a human being alive! Hope is what propels you and I to continue living this tough life! Hope is a piece of eternity instilled in yours and my heart! Hope is what God gives us because He set eternity in our hearts. Hope is what Andy had for his own life and his inmates’ lives. Hope is what Andy got to share with Red. Here is another dialogue between the two friends:Red: I don't think you ought to be doing this to yourself, Andy. This is just shitty pipedreams. I mean, Mexico is way the hell down there and you're in here, and that's the way it is.
Andy: Yeah, right. That's the way it is. It's down there and I'm in here. I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'.
Oh, how right was Andy! “Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin”. Which one is it? Which one is my decision today? And Andy had so much hope that he made up a plan in his mind and worked on it for twenty years without letting anybody else know. He loved his friend Red enough to give him clues and to instill in Red a small, tiny, little hope to keep going. A small, tiny, little idea of what life would be like beyond those walls and bars. So, when Red finally gets out of prison he goes to that tree where Andy had mentioned to him, he found a box with an envelope. Money and a letter that read:Dear Red, If you're reading this, you've gotten out. And if you've come this far, maybe you're willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don't you? I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I'll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend, Andy.
I find I'm so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.Yes! Andy got his message across to Red!
Well, the next morning (Sunday morning) as I was reading “My Utmost for His Highest”, by Oswald Chambers, he was talking about “Regeneration and Redemption!” So, I decided to just copy his words, instead of trying to explain them to you – as I would just be spoiling them for you.
“If Jesus Christ is to regenerate me, what is the problem He is up against? I have a heredity I had no say in; I am not holy, nor likely to be; and if all Jesus Christ can do is to tell me I must be holy, His teaching plants despair. But if Jesus Christ is a Regenerator, One who can put into me His own heredity of holiness, then I begin to see what He is driving at when He says that I have to be holy. The Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into any man the hereditary disposition that was in Himself, and all the standards He gives are based on that disposition: His teaching is for the life He puts in. The moral transaction on my part is agreement with God’s verdict on sin in the Cross of Jesus Christ.The New Testament teaching about regeneration is that when a man is struck by a sense of need, God will put the Holy Spirit into his spirit, and his personal spirit will be energized by the Spirit of the Son of God, “until Christ be formed in you.” The moral miracle of Redemption is that God can put into me a new disposition whereby I can live a totally new life. When I reach the frontier of need and know my limitations, Jesus says – “Blessed are you.” But I have to get there. God cannot put into me, a responsible moral being, the disposition that was in Jesus Christ unless I am conscious I need it.
Just as the disposition of sin entered into the human race by one man, so the Holy Spirit entered the human race by another Man; and Redemption means that I can be delivered from the heredity of sin and through Jesus Christ can receive an unsullied heredity, viz., the Holy Spirit.”
Well, if you’ve lasted this long reading my thoughts, I thank you for that! I ‘hope’ and I ‘pray’ that somehow this will bless your day. I hope and I pray that somehow this will instill in you more hope than you used to have, and this will even propel you to share the hope you have with others! I hope and I pray you be faithful to God and very loving towards others!
Have a blessed day!