One of my all time favorite movies is Fireproof. It’s a story of a broken marriage barreling on the path of divorce and through a husband’s decision at a crossroad; he chooses to fight for his marriage instead of watching it burn up.
I love this movie because it represents so many aspects of marriages today. A wife driven to be successful in her career, a husband seeking out his own needs, and a marriage that drifts apart since it is founded on love “for better only”.
Caleb Holt is a successful firefighter who is passionate about his job and has a longing to own his own boat to enjoy on his time off. However, Caleb has one root problem, he is addicted to the lures and traps that husbands can find themselves in when surfing the Internet alone. He also seems to pay little contribution at home to make their marriage a team effort.
Catherine on the other hand is in charge of the public relations office at the local hospital, and she is torn between her passion for her work and taking care of her parents ever since her mother had a stroke. Yet Catherine continues to keep bitterness, anger, and resentment against her husband whom seems to contribute very little to the daily routines at home. In addition, Catherine is fed up with competing against images on the Internet and her husband’s lack of interest for her, so she, like a lot of wives, begins to allow another man slowly into her life through innocent glances, smiles, and a few flirtative gestures that lead down the path of an emotional affair.
Caleb’s father recognizes the destruction taking place in their marriage and he challenges his son to a Love Dare for 40 days, which Caleb reluctantly accepts. He begins an attempt at fixing his marriage by reading through the summary for each day while ignoring the scripture below each entry.
On day 18, Caleb is completely rejected by his wife after he has gone all out to show that he still loves her, in reply she declares she no longer loves him. Heartbroken and downtrodden, Caleb’s dad comes to see him in person asking questions of Caleb that drive him to answering the call which God has placed on his marriage.
The climax of the story is so beautifully written because the words in which Caleb speaks about his wife explaining how frustrated, distant, and rejected she has become to him is the exact way in which Caleb has been treating God. He asks,
“How can I show love to someone when they constantly reject me?”
“That’s a good question, son…..The answer is, you can’t love her because you can’t give her what you don’t have”
Through his father’s guidance, he is able to recognize that he needs Jesus more than ever in order to love his wife because Caleb simply does not understand what love means.
Sure, he understands Philios-a love of friendship, a mutual give and take relationship. He also knows what Eros-the erotic love based upon strong feelings or physical traits can be since it is the foundation to his marriage. However, he is lost when it comes to Agape love-An unconditional love. Love that shows no boundaries. No restrictions. No judgments. Simple, pure love at its finest form. The kind of love that God has for us. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Just like Caleb, we may believe that we are good people, but being good does not disqualify us from breaking his standards. We have all told a lie (Yes, not telling all the truth is a lie). We have all stolen something. (Yes, asking without permission is stealing.) Looking at someone with lust or even lustful thoughts is considered sin. (Even when there is no physical intention, there is a mental one.) Some sins may appear worse than others, but the truth is, God views them all the same. For when we break one rule, we have broken them all. (James 2:10).
That day, Caleb chose to not only accept the gift, but to open the gift that God has already given us.
To those of you who already know him, are you living your life reflective of unconditional love? Are you laying down your own selfish needs to serve others regardless of how you feel? “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1John 4:16)
To those of you who have not accepted or opened your free gift, what are you waiting for? “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1John 1:8). Do not delay! He is at the door knocking. (Revelation 3:20). Just open the door and let him in. It is the one decision in your life you will never regret.