At one point film, Joan packs her bags, takes their three boys and leaves Evan. They stop at roadside restaurant, and it’s obvious Joan is distraught and at her wits end—and it is here God meets her. I love this scene, not only because it illustrates how God encounters us where we are and with such abundance and personal attention but also because it illustrates how he often invites us to understand him, his Word and our situation from a different and much more spacious perspective—his perspective. And that often changes us and the choices we make. It certainly does Joan; after this scene she and the boys go back home to Evan.
As her boys head off to the restroom, Joan holds up an empty basket and gets the attention of a waiter with his back to her.(Images: screen captures copyrighted by Universal Studios)
Joan: Oh, excuse me, can I get a refill please?
The waiter turns around, and, lo and behold, it is God. He smiles and holds up a finger.
God: Coming right up.
Joan (sighing softly): Thank you.
God looks at her more closely with concern.
God: Excuse me, are you alright?
Joan (shrugging): Yeah.
God looks at her.
Joan: No. It’s a long story.
She looks down at the table, shrugging again.
God: Well I like stories. I’m considered a bit of a storyteller myself.
Joan: My husband—you’ve heard of New York’s Noah?
God: The guy who’s building the ark.
Joan: That’s him.
God: I love that story—Noah and the Ark? You know, a lot of people miss the point of that story. They think it is about God’s wrath and anger—they love it when God gets angry.
Joan: What is the story about then, the ark?
God sits down in the empty chair next to her and speaks earnestly.
God: Well, I think it’s a love story, about believing in each other. You know, the animals showed up in pairs. They stood by each other, side by side—just like Noah and his family. Everybody entered the ark side by side.
Joan likes this.
Joan: But my husband says God told him to do it. What do you do with that?
God smiles and nods.
God: Sounds like an opportunity.
Joan looks at him surprise.
God: If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?
Joan is stunned. God smiles and gets up, briefly touches her hand.
God: Well, I gotta run. Lot of people to serve.
He points down to her plate.
She looks down and her formally empty basket is suddenly full with fish and French fries.