Sometimes it takes the voice of God to get people to live a great story. Sometimes that story takes them to unexpected and tragic places. Not knowing if life is comedy or tragedy can lead to a life of stops and starts; confusion. But knowing that life is full of truth, full of the divine everyday, life becomes meaningful and something worth dying for.
Stranger than Fiction is a film about finding truth, about seeking the divine, about living a great story, about willingly walking in obedience. Harold Crick starts out in the mundane and is focused on the everyday tasks that make up a life. He doesn’t think about purpose, or future, or how he is a piece of the puzzle. He doesn’t realize that there is a greater puzzle to fit into. Like many humans, his world starts small. It’s not until the unexpected, the supernatural happens that he realizes his world is big, he has a purpose; he is specifically destined.
Harold Crick hears the voice of God. That is his catalyst for change. It takes something that big to get his attention. Some people hear God in the small things, but Harold needs something bigger, something that would hit him over the head and get him thinking outside of himself. Specifically, he hears the voice of a narrator, but there are some specific Biblical truths about God and His nature that can be extrapolated through the relationship between Harold and his narrator. Who is God?
The fullness of God cannot truly be realized here on earth, but there are some things that can be learned from Stranger than Fiction: God is omniscient. God knows the full context of where people are going and what is going on around them. Since He is all knowing, He understands people as a piece of a greater puzzle in the context of all of Creation, but also knows individuals better than they know themselves and He knows what is best for them. Once Harold Crick follows the voice, once he decides to embrace all that is in store for him, his life becomes full of truth, full of beauty, full of love, full of joy. The pain of life never leaves him, but there is joy in that pain because there is truth of a greater purpose in that pain.
God is invested and cares deeply for people. The narrator knows Harold completely and knows what is best for him. God caring and knowing people doesn’t mean that everything will be easy and that life will be full of luxury. Without the ‘hard work of the middle’¹, the story that God has planned for people will not come to fruition, it won’t be full and transformative; it will be incomplete and ‘less than’. God knows what we need for where He wants us to go. Sometimes that is a clear path, sometimes it is full of life, sometimes it is painful, but it’s all transformative. It’s a personal transformation that has an impact on the world around Harold; a transformational impact.
Stranger than Fiction is also a story of salvation, a story of redemption. Truth about what Jesus did and who He is can be found in the final act. Harold is representative of Jesus, not Jesus himself, but he acts as Jesus did at the end. He willingly goes to his death for the greater good. Harold knows that through his death, through the saving of a little boy, life will happen and because he willingly goes to his death, he becomes the type of character that is worthy to be saved; to be rescued. Like Jesus, Harold doesn’t succumb to death. He lives. Jesus died and rose again; He is alive. Jesus died for the sake of all humanity, Harold for one.
The movie also has something to say about creation about how humans were created by the words of God. God breathed, God spoke humanity into existence. Harold is created entirely from the voice, the words of the writer, the narrator. God’s voice is powerful as He speaks things into existence. It really shows the power of words, the power of speech and of breath.
Stranger than Fiction shows aspects of the nature of God and creation and it also shows the nature of humanity. Harold starts out as a self-centered man without the eyes to see the significant. Karen Eiffel, the narrator, says “Harold’s life was filled with moments both significant and mundane, but to Harold, those moments remained entirely indistinguishable.” He can’t see outside of himself. It really shows how humanity is naturally focused on self and it’s not until people start following the voice of God that they can truly see what is outside of them. When people open their eyes, take in what is around them, they can start to have a transformational impact. The problem with most is that they keep their eyes on their feet. They are able to see where they are, but lose sight of where they are going. The significant, the divine, truth happens daily in the lives of people, but it’s not until eyes are cast above, around that it is able to be seen and lived out. Sometimes people think the significant is mundane, but is it?
Harold Crick starts living a life full of truth when he starts walking in obedience. Morality and obedience just for the sake of it doesn’t make sense. Harold starts walking in obedience because of the impact it has on the world around him. It’s selfless and that is the beauty of it. It sets Harold free in a way he wasn’t previously. Harold is now free to live a life of significance, of truth, of the divine. Jesus said, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”² Harold follows the voice in obedience and he is set free.
Harold Crick finds his purpose towards the end of the story. He realizes he has a purpose. He is created for a specific reason and he willingly goes to his death to fulfill that purpose. His purpose is to show love towards others, to help others find beauty in the divine, to die for another. He doesn’t find his purpose until he knows the voice. He has to seek the voice, to get to know the voice before he finds his purpose. Without knowing God, humanity is confused by their purpose. Harold doesn’t know what he is created for until the writer tells him. To find purpose people need to seek God, to seek His voice in their lives. People have purpose. People are created for a reason. Once they seek truth, they find purpose.
There are other Biblical truths in Stranger than Fiction that can be extrapolated. This is the question that I like to ask when watching a movie, a television show, looking at a piece of art, listening to music, or reading a book: “What Biblical truth(s) can be discovered in the areas of God, Creation, Humanity, Moral Order and Purpose that I can apply to my life? What is the best way to implement that truth?” Sometimes the truth is hidden in a mess of lies, but there is truth to be found. There is truth in any piece of art. Not all truth is beautiful. Sometimes truth reveals the wretchedness of humanity, but at times truth in art reveals the glory of God. Seek truth in all things.
Stranger than Fiction is full of truth, of the divine. It is a story about living a great story, about finding significance in life, about finding what is worth dying for.
¹ Taken from “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller. The book is highly recommended!
² John 8:31-32 New Living Translation