BEDTIME STORIES

I think the most compelling scenes of any movie create a longing for redemption.  Someone has to gain insight that they captured through the witness of belief in another.  I like to wonder about the directors and the cast of each movie, often watching the out-takes or extra footage.  It has become a game between me and Daddy to practice my prophetic gift as I mute a movie for the first time and pray for a spiritual storyline.  After I put my little tale together I rewind and watch with the words.  I just laugh and yell, “bouilla” when it plays out just like I had hypothesized.  The best thing about this fun little game I play is that it’s between my Father in Heaven and I, Daddy.  I have no delusions that certain skeptics would de-grade my impressions as mere predictability, but that doesn’t keep me from believing them.

You see, in my make believe world I get to be a child again.  I truly didn’t have much of a positive childhood so every new chance to see my life redeemed in adulthood through laughter is worth being declared a fool.  I am quite aware that many see me as immature and some may say flighty, but I’m good regardless of opinion.  I have a sense that actor and director Adam Sandler creates his movies from a similar perspective, ready to interpret and share life as he feels it so others are able to risk the same thing.  Most of the Sandler movies rank among the highest on my list of faves:”50 First Dates”, “Big Daddy”, “Mr. Deeds”, and the timeless “Bedtime Stories”.  This children’s movie is as much for adults as it is children and I believe we see a glimpse into the heart of Daddy because of the relational undertones.

In Bedtime Stories the main character is played by Adam Sandler whose personality mimics a familiar breed of man like in his other films, one who wants betterment for his life but remains unsure of how to attain it.  This is nothing less than man’s search for meaning through comedy.  When compared to different choices one could make in creating storylines, I feel Adam Sandler is an instrument of God, self-casted into a soft-hearted spokesman for love.  I believe he is doing a great thing on this earth and for such a time as this.  His humor is a key that unlocks Heaven’s creativity and imagination for a world of people encroached with sameness.  I’m not sure if Adam is aware of how his unique transparency surpasses the canned-laughter we hear in sitcoms but I’m sure his income eludes that he is doing exactly what Daddy has called him too, even if He isn’t a believer.  Fame and fortune could be the conduit to a relationship with God because he is risking expression of himself through the way Daddy has gifted him. Daddy could very well be affirming him through success because Adam has invested his talents well, even if it’s not a part of a seemingly “Godly” path.  What better way to penetrate his heart and the viewers than doing what comes naturally to him?  The joke would be on the religious if they missed his God-given talent because he doesn’t produce “spiritual” movies.  In Daddy’s mind I believe Adam is.

“Bedtime Stories” is a prophetic tale in which eternal principles of faith, grace and love make up our daily lives.  The best part for me is that I get to laugh at the hundreds of ways the characters speak my language.  I ponder then, could it be that Daddy can speak to His children through symbolism today as He did through the parables of Jesus?  My answer is yes, because He is the same God as yesterday, today and forever, and has done a fab job at keeping us open to the world’s changes.  If He wants to reach this people group who are alive during this era, it would make sense to me that He will use the fools to confound the wise, especially those who aren’t afraid to be themselves and challenge mindsets of old.

Mindsets can be very limiting.  When I watched “Bedtime Stories” I was immediately wowed by the cartoon interlude and the use of Skeeter’s (Adam Sandler) father as the narrator.  It gave an omniscient feel to the voice that would be guiding us through the adventures of His son.  A standard was known, that Skeeter was the apple of his father’s eye, loved no more than his sister, Wendy, just differently.  The hotel the father had raised his two children in was facing bankruptcy.  Mr. Nottingham appears on the scene to remind the father of his daunting circumstances just so he could swoop in like a false savior.  Nottingham deceived the father and promised to promote the fathers son, Skeeter should he work hard.  The hotel was signed over to the evil scheme and only the living quarters for the family remained while a mega hotel replaced the motel. Skeeter promised himself that he would “one-day” attain status of running the elite hotel while dedicating himself to Nottingham for service.

Now Skeeter had grown and remained loyal to His father long after his passing by working at the new enterprise.  Wendy came to Skeeter and asked if he would watch her children for the week since she was losing her job at the school where the kids attended.  This begins the whimsical voice of a father’s view from heaven into the daily grind of his child.  Skeeter is not a perfect child, but the audience can feel the Father’s love for him through a “presence”.  With smart jabs and quick quips, Skeeter addresses his shared responsibilities between him and Jill as “less than exciting “when they exchange routine responsibilities for his niece and nephew.  Now Wendy had recently divorced a man who kept Skeeter’s niece and nephew from knowing him.  When it came time to put the children to bed Skeeter picked right back up where his own father had left off.  The bedtime stories had been his favorite memory which afforded him the ability to carry that mantle and become acquainted with his estranged family.

Skeeter fleshed out his real life experiences in the imagery of a bedtime story for his niece and nephew with great exuberance to make his adult world understandable to their small minds.  Winds of change lifted his spirits when he joked about Nottingham overlooking him for the manager position.  He re-named the oppressor and the current manager to disguise the scene while pertaining to himself as “Fix-a-lot” without giving his own identity away to the children.  As the kids heard and laughed at his story he was able to deal with the harsh reality of being “passed over” from a new light.  The children offered a positive ending for Fix-a-lot because of their innate hope for the underdog.  Without their realization of their uncle longing for a break in life, they re-vamped the story to give him a shot as the most obvious candidate for job promotion.  Skeeter declared that, “there are no happy endings in life”.  Yet, the children preceded with upgrades and blessing that would shower down on Fix-a-lot, including gumballs from heaven.

To me this is nothing less than reality, a reality that we as Christians should be living in.  To remain childlike is to call forth the impossible just because we are Daddy’s kids.  So what if it doesn’t happen, it may if we ask.  If not, we can chalk it up to “just a story” that was fun to imagine anyway.  Isn’t that the beauty that children behold, the ability to speak freely what could happen if we just believe?  Too often like Skeeter we grow up and walk through life “responsibly” and give up on the dreams we once had because life stole our opportunities.  A prophetic singer Jason Upton tells of a song he wrote with his 4 year old son; the son asked if he climbed the bookcase would he be able to reach God?  The song writer was intrigued by his son’s question and prompted for the child to give his own response.  A song was born and it greatly depicted the power of childlike thinking reaching Daddy in heaven whenever the son needed him.  How beautiful.  How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!  Children instinctively believe in possibilities that only get stolen should someone snuff out their hope of attaining them.  Matt 18:10 says that, “it would be better for a millstone to be tied around the neck and thrown into the sea on a man who causes harm to one of His little ones.”  Could it be that much of our lost dreams as adults have happened because we were harmed from naysayers when we thought like a child?

In the book, “20th Century Pilgrim”, we read all about the Christian mindsets that sweep away childlike faith; “You are so heavenly minded, you’ll be no earthly use.  You have to do your part you know, you become accountable to the knowledge you receive”.  I’m not so sure the responsible Christians I met along my faith journey realized just how much hope they were dashing in me.  Now that I am hearing Daddy in daily circumstances and doing what He says even when it doesn’t make sense I see that He is giving me back my childlike ways.  It is exhilarating and fun and up to Him to deal with those looking on in unbelief.  When I hear, feel or sense something beyond my comprehension, but curiously walk in it, my mind gets blown and I wind up seeing just how personal and powerful He is in my life.  This is what the character Skeeter needed and he freely received because his curiosity was piqued.

After the first bedtime story Skeeter had an opportunity to come before Nottingham and it jogged the Hotel owner’s memory of the conversation he had with Skeeter’s dad 25 years prior.  This is the story of so many stories in the Bible coming to life through a secular film!  Just like Joseph having dreams and being sent into captivity for years, Skeeter was placed on the heart of a man who had the power to re-birth the original promise.  Skeeter was offered a shot at the managerial position for the new hotel much like Joseph being remembered for his dream interpreting ability.  When Joseph had a shot to help “his boss” it accelerated his own dreams to come to pass.  This film was a re-play of the many chances Daddy gives to redeem His chosen. One step forward and ten steps backward occurred in many lives of our Biblical patriarchs until destiny was fulfilled.  Skeeter’s life was unfolding like any other good testimony of past and present.  The best part about this whole movie for me occurred when Skeeter’s truck died and it looked like another setback just before the gumballs started raining down around him.  The amazement on his face brought tears to my eyes.  It was a dream coming to life and it surely got his attention.

Some would argue that it was coincidence and others would simply explain the gumballs away once it was revealed that a candy truck spilled overhead Skeeter’s truck.  I wouldn’t even entertain a conversation with those types of people because they are not able to see the spiritual point.  It was a gift from God for Skeeter, a personal need met in his heart to breathe life into dreaming again.  Daddy is so in love with us that He will use the mistakes, disappointments, and beliefs we have to breakthrough all that limits seeing Him.  This was a prophetic climax for this character because he could venture into greater hope for his life.  It need not matter what anyone said in that moment because he experienced a very real, supernatural response that meant something for him alone.

Isn’t that what each of us want, a sign that our hope could implant faith that rises?

Skeeter had increased expectancy for more so he did what any human would, seek it out.  If it worked one night, why not a second?  Excited about his bedtime story coming to life he anxiously conjures up reason to claim more in life by living through another bedtime story.  Wouldn’t we all keep asking Daddy for the next dream if we saw the first was possible?  When I got saved I was immediately healed of migraine headaches.  I was at a wedding and sat next to a man limping.  He was a believer so I shared the excitement of my own healing and asked to pray for his.  He told me that he was going to keep the limp because God must have wanted him to have it or he would have been healed already.  It was one of the first experiences I had with unbelief and doubt in another person and I walked away with slouched shoulders, questioning my own.  Was it wrong for me to believe for something I had hope for?  I think not, but it stunted my sharing about my miracle because of his own lack of faith for his.  I prayed for a woman to be healed sometime later and told the pastors wife about the exhilaration I had when this woman actually walked pain free for the first time in 10 years.  She patted me on the shoulder and said, “That exuberance will eventually fall away.”  I was dumbfounded.  I asked her, “wouldn’t I get more and more excited with each answered prayer along the way?’  She had nothing to say in return.  I wonder if Skeeter’s character spoke to me so much because I valued his intention to see if more was available.  He had met plenty of “limp walkers” and “pastor’s wives” that told him to get his head out of the clouds, but he always held onto the promise of redemption despite them.

Due to his awakened outlook, Skeeter wasn’t concerned with the motives of his heart; he was morphing back into a childlike mindset when he started telling stories that would get him what he thought he wanted.  Setting up stories with the kids for his betterment was where he was at in this moment of time.  It was selfish but neither here nor there in the great scheme of things because the end of the movie was already made.  This correlates greatly to each of us having our own process of healing and maturity.  What looks misguided to some might be exactly where Daddy shows up for an individual.  Daddy already knows our beginning and end so He is not concerned if we make mistakes along the way.  Should you, I or people like Skeeter want for temporary happiness, Daddy knows that obtaining it will still represent our needing Him more when everything else fades away.  What Skeeter believed he wanted was the daughter of Nottingham because his faith had not yet reached “the more” that God wanted for him?

With the famous daughter wanting nothing to do with Skeeter he pursued her all the more.  Not too far off from most of us.  We always want what we can’t have and search for significance in relationships that we think meet our needs.  Skeeter believed that getting the job would land him the girl too.  The dynamic between Skeeter and Jill morphed into sarcastic commentary as they traded babysitting duties with the kids.  Aggravated with the responsibility of work he quickly reminded the kids of the upcoming story in which they all get consumed in his fairytale life.  It gets harder for him to stop imagining the possibilities of his storybook turning into reality.  I think it’s actually a good thing for him to swing closer to the expectancy pendulum because doubt was becoming a thing of the past.  That is until Nottingham’s current manager reminds Skeeter that his father lost the first hotel and he will never re-claim it.  Skeeter’s countenance changed as the voice of the enemy tried to level his emotions with familiar failure, a tactic we each know all too well.  However, in Daddy’s Kingdom sons and daughters are set up for success.  How prophetic that Skeeter was being placed in a position of picking up what his father was unable to achieve during his lifetime.  Spiritually the story was unfolding that Skeeter would align with heaven, complete the family legacy and walk forth in future that appeared to have been stolen.  Redemption was ripe for the picking and then it dawned on Skeeter that the children control his stories, not him.  It takes the innocence of faith and love to reveal truth; that all is not lost and dreams can come true.

That third night of storytelling was awesome.  He starts, “Let’s get to business”, spoken from a true adult mindset.  He begins his conquest of the fairest maiden in the land, Nottingham’s daughter, and ends it abruptly to assure his motive happens.  The kids add all kinds of commentary; making him witness the mean girls from high school do the hokey pokey, jumping on a man to stop his choking on a fish, running out of the rain and seeing Abe Lincoln.  Skeeter abruptly stops the story and demands an explanation.  “What is this a joke to you?”  The kids cower and he notices the drive behind his frustration, he is worried that he won’t get what he wants.  Part of his need to succeed as an adult in real life stunts the possibility of his hopes ministering to his inner child where freedom to dream thrives.  This was a pivotal moment in the movie because his faith was being combated with the possibility of failure if he didn’t get it perfect.  My, my, my could I relate to that mode of striving that so quickly snuffs out childlikeness in myself.

As it turns out Nottingham’s daughter is out of town.  Without being able to differentiate between story and reality, Skeeter actually addresses her as “fairest maiden of the land”.  This could be good for most of us because it would mean we would be walking out in the supernatural during daily life, but too often we chastise ourselves for not doing the Christian thing.  This was a poignant moment because many times other people don’t have to know how much fun we are having with the Lord if they don’t recognize it.  Many times I have wondered if I already dreamt what I’m doing or if it’s the first time living it.  I act like I should on the outside, calm, cool and collected, but on the inside I’m laughing at how cool the Holy Spirit leads me prophetically.  Fortunately for Skeeter, the rich daughter didn’t think anything about his addressing her as a maiden and dismissed him as usual.  I like that because her spirit wasn’t tuned into the same frequency as his.  He was good.  He was actually walking out what he knew was going to happen because parts were revealed already in the bedtime story.  He just didn’t know the details would be better than he expected.  This just proves how Daddy is in the details and sets us up for receiving what we both want and need.

So Jill turns out to be the maiden.  Everything happened that the kids foretold except who the love of Skeeter’s life really was.  It was an upgrade, a person who had shared the responsibilities of life with him and dreaming alongside.  Two people who wanted to believe that impossibilities can happen.  Jill and Wendy needed the kid’s school to remain open to keep their jobs but now to keep the family together.    As he leans in to kiss his maiden he remembers that Abe Lincoln has not yet played out in reality.  He ducks for cover as hysteria ensues overhead expecting a grand entrance of the retired President.  To his surprise, with head tucked between his legs, a penny appeared.  I just love the twist and humor that Abe’s face on the coin brought.  Now that is God!  We think that symbols in dreams always mean the same thing or that our interpretation and expectation must be the same as Daddy’s, but His ways are always above ours.  They may even be a play on our thoughts.

Sometimes our interpretation may miss the simplicity of Daddy’s love.  If He is always for us and uses everything to advance our relationship with Him, it makes sense that our ultimate drive is to feel loved.  The kids asked Skeeter during one scene if their father was coming back.  His answer abolished the hole of abandonment in their hearts where so many of us still react like children from today.  He apologized on their father’s behalf for being left behind and stood in the gap as a replacement, promising to never leave.  He appropriated the love he had known from his own father and reacted from love in an adult way that cherished the hearts of children.  I’m telling ya, this was a spiritual nugget that was felt in my own heart.  How desperate are the times in which we live where children suffer the loss of hopes and dreams because they were abandoned physically, emotionally or spiritually.  It is my belief that Adam Sandler had this scene added to speak to all persons viewing it on a very natural and spiritual level.  I’d be willing to bet that the thought came from Daddy Himself despite if Adam would even attribute it to Him.

Through all of the emotions this family lived through together they still had a roller coaster of feelings before them. The final bedtime story brought Skeeter into zero gravity where he fought in space for the hotel.  The kids embellished it with fighting evil before the battle was won by our main character.  A sudden addition to the completed story by Skeeter’s nephew declared that he would be incinerated.  Freaked out, Skeeter tries to get them to add more to the story so his life could be spared.  The children just said, “But you said life doesn’t always have a happy ending”. Finality had him go into Fix-a-lot mode and try to keep the inevitable from happening.  He had no idea how fire would present itself the night promotion would be divvied out, but his fear of the unknown consumed him.  His experience in life up until this point had confirmed that he could easily get burned if he didn’t have a perfect presentation for others in which to prove his worthiness.  In that instant, he laid down his ability to trust in the twists that brought blessing in spite of his expectations.  The inner child was afraid to believe in the dreams he had always known were possible.  The adult needed a father to guide him.

On that fateful night Skeeter shared of his past week with his bedtime stories and niece and nephew.  Job was granted.  Out of fear he blew out the candles on Nottingham’s cake and the job was revoked as quickly as it came.  “That’s how I’m incinerated, I’m fired”.  He walked away believing life doesn’t have any happy endings.

How quickly we dig up a seed that we planted years before because it hasn’t matured into a tree fast enough.  Skeeter much like me, much like Elijah in the Bible, witnessed great miracles and the hand of God repeatedly in our lives only to negate them when we’ve been burned.  The voice of his father returned to Skeeter and began narrating the next scenes of hopelessness.  Then he called out to his son, “Hero’s always do something courageous to save the story.  It’s your story, what do you want to do?”  Wow.  That sounds about right to me.  Daddy always remains the same, believing with us for the impossible dreams and still believing for us until we catch back up with His vision.  If He is always championing for our success through His love than our success comes when we find our identity in it.

So Skeeter rises up and goes after his happy ending, which admittingly means there will always be a bigger and better dream that comes along, all the while writing story after story that makes up daily life.  Skeeter got a second, third and fourth shot at obtaining his dreams much like we do every day.  Happy endings are missed far too often because we take back control of our own stories.  I believe Daddy always has increased blessing and revelation for us if we see our set-backs as opportunity to rely on Him.  He knows exactly what we want because He is walking with us through our choices, always ready to redeem His truth.  Bedtime Stories is a love story for the kid at heart who knows there are still many more dreams to attain. Dream Big.  Go expectantly to Daddy and ask for the impossible.  “More Lord”

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