Communication: Thoughts on “Arrival”

This week I picked up Arrival on Blu-Ray.  I saw the film in theaters back in November and in my “year in review” for my favorite films of 2016 said this was my film of the year.  So needless to say I was excited to watch it again (as well as all the special features documentaries).

Arrival poster

At the heart of this film is communication.  Communication between humans and aliens.  Communication between humans to each other.  The importance of having good communication.  How bad communication can be ineffective or disruptive.  Communication can be something that unites or it can be something that divides.

The main character of the film is a linguist.  Dr. Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams) is called in by the Army to help with trying to communicate with the aliens.  She is able to connect with the heptapods and after many times of meeting and struggling is able to develop a line of communication with them.  It takes time and patience to understand even the basic things that the heptapods are trying to communicate.

Louise also has to communicate with the Army to tell them why she has to be so basic with the heptapods at the start.  One scene that was apropos was when she writes on the whiteboard at the base “What is your purpose on Earth?” and then goes into description of how each word has to be understood (as well as understanding what a question is) before being able to ask the question to get an appropriate response.  But through the course of the film Louise and Ian Donnelly, a theoretical physicist (played by Jeremy Renner) are able to establish communication with the heptapods “Abbott” and “Costello”.

Arrival Louise and Ian

But it’s not just communication between the humans and the heptapods important in the film, communication between humans to each other is important.  We see the struggles between the Army and Louise and Ian.  We see it between different countries as they are sharing (or not sharing) info with their encounters with the heptapods.  We see it with the media reporting the news.  The disconnection between different countries almost lead to aggression and even to the bring of war.

We live in a world today where there is instant communication.  The internet and social media has connected people around the world in ways that were not imaginable a generation ago.  But even with this advancement in communication, there is a lot of miscommunication.  We can turn on the TV or turn on our computers and see a huge disconnect in people communicating with one another and that can lead to people getting hurt.

Even though Arrival is science fiction, there is a lot of truth in it.  We as humans long to connect with others.  But really connecting with people takes time and it’s messy because we’re broken.  Our sin makes us broken.  To really communicate is to open oneself up and share themselves.  Many times we’re scared to do that because in our vulnerability we are worried people will take advantage of that and hurt us.  It takes a level of trust to be open in communicating with someone and that comes through relationships.  Louise built a relationship with “Abbott” and “Costello” which by the end of the film not only affected her but the entire world and the heptapods as well.  She trusted the heptapods but that didn’t come overnight.  It took time and work and also sacrifice.  But in the end, that trust led to better communication.

Arrival is a very timely film and one that gets to the heart not only of who we are as people but what it means to be human.  To be human both in our virtues and our flaws.  The beauty in how God created us and the sin which hinders and hampers us.  How we struggle to communicate with one another and how that affects our relationships with one another and how we’ve been given a gift (in Jesus Christ) that can unite all people together.

I said before it was my film of the year last year and seeing it again reminds me not just how good it is as a film but how thought provoking it is.  It is a good reminder that communication is key and we all could do a better job of it.

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 71:1-8

“In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
    let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
    turn your ear to me and save me.
Be my rock of refuge,
    to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.
Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
    from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
    my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
    you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
    I will ever praise you.
I have become a sign to many;
    you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
    declaring your splendor all day long.” (Psalm 71:1-8)

This portion of scripture is another of David’s writings.  Throughout many of the Psalms, David writes and sings about God’s faithfulness.  He praises the Lord for being his hope and salvation.  He knows that the Lord is the one who is able to deliver.

David went through good times and bad.  He was a part of great victories and he suffered heartbreaking losses.  Yet through it all He relied on the Lord.  May we have that kind of faith.  May we have that trust in the Lord that He will deliver us through our sufferings and hardships  May we have that kind of praise of the Lord in giving thanks for what He has done in our lives.  May be, like David, be a sign to all those around us about who God is and what He has done.

This week let us take refuge in the Lord.  Let us have our mouths filled with praise.  And let us be that sign to many that God is faithful, He is loving and that He delivers.

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 40:1-5

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes
    the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
    yet they are more than can be told.”  (Psalm 40:1-5)

David knew all too well about tough times.  He knew all too well about despair and loneliness.  And in all of this, he know exactly where to turn in those times.  He knew to turn to the Lord.  He knew that he could put his trust in God and it wouldn’t be broken.

We can have that same assurance that God will be with us.  We can have the same assurance that He will take care of us.  He has proven Himself over and over again to be faithful.  And those who trust in Him are blessed.

This week, whether if things are going well or if there are tough times, trust in the Lord.

Sunday Devotional: Habakkuk 3:17-19

“Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places”  (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Old Testament prophets knew about hard times.  Many of them suffered hardships in being faithful to the message God had called them to preach.  Many of them were lonely.  Many of them were ignored.  But regardless of the tough times they went through, they were faithful in serving God and were faithful in preaching the message given to them.

Habakkuk shares here that even though tough times may come, one can still rejoice in the Lord.  He knows that the source of his strength comes from the Lord.  He knows that the source of his salvation comes from the Lord.  Even when there is suffering and hardship, God is there.  Even when there is loneliness and heartbreak, God is there.

This week, let us remember that God is with us.  He loves us and He is our source of strength and salvation if we just trust Him and follow Him.

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 62

“For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

How long will all of you attack a man
    to batter him,
    like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.
    They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
    but inwardly they curse. Selah

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before him;
    God is a refuge for us. Selah

Those of low estate are but a breath;
    those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
    they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no trust in extortion;
    set no vain hopes on robbery;
    if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

Once God has spoken;
    twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
     and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
    according to his work.” (Psalm 62)

David knew all too well about the Lord’s provision through tough times.  He experienced many trials throughout his life.  Yet David knew where he could turn to in those moments.  This psalm is another example of the response David had to God’s faithfulness.

God loves us and is with us throughout all the times in our lives, the good and the bad.  He is the one we can turn to when the storms come.  He provides shelter from the storm.  He is our rock and our salvation.

This week, like David, let us put our hope and trust in God through all the times that come to us, good and bad.  Let us rest in Him.

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 37:5-7

“Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!” (Psalm 37:5-7)

It is hard sometimes to be patient, especially if something is taking a long time to come to fruition.  But God calls us to trust in Him and be patient.  He will act.  He will be there for us.  We are to commit to Him and trust Him.

Sometimes that does mean waiting patiently for Him.  That wait may mean a long time of patience but He is faithful.  He wants what is best for us and will use that time of waiting to make us more like Him.  And when the time comes we will be ready if we trust and wait for Him.

This week, let us commit to the Lord and let us trust in the work that He is doing in and through us.