Fireproof – An Old Favorite

So evidently people use blogs like this to get into real issues in life.  To expose their deepest darkest secrets.  To share the confessions that they can only share with God or their closest anonymous internet readers.  In that spirit, here goes.  I am a grown man who enjoys the outdoors, God, military history and flannel…. and I love and normally get weepy at Christian movies, particularly of the romantic variety.  You know the ones that 12 year old girls watch and say, “that was kind of sappy”, yes those.  I know, I know, but its true, throw on a Kirk Cameron movie or the selected works of David A.R. White and give me some popcorn I will be crying like a baby in no time.  I have always loved movies, particularly as a lonely little kid as they kept me company, but the world of movies is even more enjoyable now as I walk with Jesus.  Watching even a bad movie about Jesus working in someone’s life is a joy.  It is one of my favorite things to do.  To pass on this love of the genre, I will periodically review old favorites and new Christian movies here with the hope that people will check them out and be inspired by them as well.  Let’s start with the one that started it all for me:  Fireproof, the Kendrick brothers celebration of marriage.

There are few movies that I enjoy like Kirk Cameron’s 2008 surprise hit film Fireproof, directed by the Kendrick brothers, Alex and Stephen Kendrick.  Though it starts off with a couple who are in serious trouble and headed towards divorce, the film in its entirety is a celebration of marriage and the effectiveness of love in healing the wounds that we cause to our spouses when that love comes from Jesus.  In the movie, Kirk Cameron plays Caleb Holt, a firefighter in a small town in Georgia who is locked in a failing marriage with his wife Catherine, played by Erin Bethea.   At the outset of the movie, we see how both spouses selfishness and sin, particularly Caleb’s internet activities and selfish ambitions are destroying them as a couple.  At the point that there appears to be no hope for the couple and divorce appears inevitable, Caleb’s father steps in and challenges him to take a 40 day scripture based challenge to see if the marriage can be saved.  Though he starts off reluctantly, through going through the Bible verses and the daily challenges, Caleb learns the true nature of his relationship to God first and then to his wife.  He sees how much his selfishness and sin have hurt his wife and family and by the end of the 40 days, Caleb finds new life through Christ and leads his bride back to Jesus as well through his trust in Jesus and the resultant love and patience.

While Fireproof is not perfect cinematically, many of the actors involved are not professional and at times it shows, it does a wonderful job of showing the common problems with marriage today and more importantly paints a wonderful picture of how a spouse can turn to the Lord and trust in Him to fix what they themselves cannot fix.  After realizing the extent of his sin and violation of the vows to his wife,  Caleb trusts in God to first forgive him and then to change the heart of his understandably angry and distrustful wife rather than demand forgiveness and reconciliation as a right.  He repents and asks his wife for forgiveness with no expectations and asking for nothing in return while loving and serving her.  It’s a great example of servant leadership.  This is usually where I am bawling my eyes out btw.

Fireproof also came out at time when I was new in my walk with the Lord and did not yet understand the damage that I had done to my own marriage during my years of rebellion against God.  When I saw it in the movie theater with my wife, I frankly did not understand it and its message was lost on this still defiant self-centered husband.  Years later, after God worked on my heart and my marriage and convicted me greatly, when i watched the movie again I saw a lot of my old self in Caleb Holt and it would have been unpleasant to say the least had God not already brought me through those valleys and conformed me to His image.  Following Caleb’s transformation is like watching God work in my own life and I end the movie each time just so grateful for what Jesus has done in me and in my marriage.

Fireproof is not a perfect movie if you are a critic, there are some clunky scenes, but it is an impactful movie and it has an awesome message.  If you are a husband or wife struggling with how to love your spouse either as the one sinned against or the sinner, I would recommend watching it.  Caleb’s transformation from the self justifying anger filled fleshly everyman at the beginning of the film to the Jesus loving, self-sacrificing humble servant at the end of the film is beautiful to behold.  Catherine’s transformation from a bitter self-righteous wife to a forgiving loving woman is also a treat to watch.  While I understand it’s just a movie and life is complicated, the picture of a truly repentant individuals following Jesus and letting him deal with the hearts of others is one worth seeing over and over again.

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