Old Fashioned is really three different love stories…
Clearly, on the horizontal, it’s a romance between Clay and Amber—two very different souls that struggle and strive to find a way to pursue a God-honoring love relationship in rather complicated and secular times.
But—at an even deeper level—it’s also two additional love stores. On the vertical, it’s a love story between God and Amber as well as another between God and Clay.
Amber has spent most of her life in motion. She has lived in fourteen states and as she says in the film, “When life gets messy, I move on. That’s what I do. I’m good at it.” A big part of her love story with God is her realization is that until she deals with claims of the Gospel in the “right here, right now” all of her messiness will simply continue to follow her and—sooner or later—she’ll run out of places to run to.
She is all spirit, full of life and grace. Beautiful things, but she is rootless and easily blown by the wind.
Clay, on the other hand, is solid; Amber likes to refer to him as “reliable.” The trouble is, although he is clearly a committed Christian, he has become so focused on being “solid” in and of his own strength that his own love story with God is oddly adrift. He has turned something good (his conversion and life-change from his former, destructive ways) into something that is now on the verge of totally isolating himself from the One who saved him—and others.
He is all righteousness, full of law and obedience. Noble things, but he is rigid and missing the joy and life that comes from embracing mercy and the communal experience.
Surprisingly, Amber’s love story with God in Old Fashioned finds its way sooner than Clay’s; and, if it wasn’t for his beloved Aunt Zella, Clay may have ended up in real trouble.
At his low point—and his most self-centered—Clay finds himself sitting at Aunt Zella’s kitchen table and she really lets him have it:
“Get over yourself, you and your pain. Do you get this upset over children starving, over anyone else’s suffering? Stop using the grace of God as a brick wall.”
It’s a pivotal, singular moment for Clay. And for many that have seen the film already…
I know of so many committed Christians—true believers—that know God, but really aren’t fully convinced of His unbridled love for them… or, that they are fully and completely forgiven of their sins. And they become so focused on their own unworthiness that they turn all of their energies and efforts inward and life becomes all about protecting themselves—building barriers (or walls) that blind them to the needs of a lost and hurting world all around them.
I know this is true because… I have been there.
Maybe you have, too.
The “good news” is, of course, that we don’t have to stay there.
All this isn’t to say we shouldn’t live carefully and with wisdom, or that if we have certain temptations that sometimes a “hedge of protection” might be in order. It’s all about focus. Is it on you, or on God and others?
Like the legendary hymn goes, “A mighty fortress is our God…”
Not, “A might fortress is our selves…”
Lots of love…