Planes: Fire and Rescue – Movie Discussion

planes fire

This summer, Shepherd Project has a young intern who is doing movie reviews.  She did an amazing job on Planes: Fire and Rescue, you can read it here.  I don’t want to repeat the work she has done so well, but I have decided to do my own review of the Planes movie for the sake of perspective.  What impacted her most as a fourteen year old is different than what impacted me the most as a…let’s just say much-older year-old.   BOTH are good, valuable perspectives.  Both use the movie to launch into spiritual truths.  But, as we are different people, at different stages in life, different things impacted us.  I say this (and post a second review of Planes) to encourage you not to get locked into one perspective/interpretation as you discuss with other people, but to be willing to listen to what they “got” out of the movie…and then see how you can connect it to spiritual truths.  It’s not about finding a “right” interpretation, or the connection to Christ…it’s about learning to see Christ in ALL things. 

Dusty, the lowly crop duster, had finally proven himself, against all odds, in the racing arena.  He was enjoying a successful career and life was good…really good.  UNTIL…he discovered he had some health problems (well, technically mechanical problems—he’s a plane) that were life threatening.  His parts were falling apart and he needed a replacement, a mechanical transplant, if you will.  The only problem was, his broken part was no longer in production.  If Dusty was going to live, he either had to replace his part or stop racing—and there was no way to replace the part.

Mikayla (our intern) was amazed by the bravery that firefighters have to have.  I won’t lie, it got to me, too—I even got teary at one point as the team worked together not only to fight the fire, but to save each other’s lives.  It was impactful…but the thing that impacted me the most Dusty’s journey through disappointment and change.  He had everything he wanted, and suddenly it was all taken away from him.

He had a choice at that point.  He could have gotten depressed.  He could have felt sorry for himself.  He could have been reckless and ignored the problem, too proud to believe it could really happen to him.  But instead of focusing on the loss of his career, future, life, dreams… Dusty focused on helping someone else with theirs.

The local airport was about to be shut down because the local fire truck, Mayday, wasn’t enough protection for the area.  This was going to affect not only Mayday, who would have been out of a job, but also the entire town who relied on the airport.  Dusty couldn’t do anything about his racing career, but he could do something about Mayday’s…and about the town’s airport.  He became a firefighter.  It wasn’t what Dusty wanted to do, but in doing it, he found joy and purpose.

The Bible says that we will find our life when we lose it (for the sake of the Lord)[1].    Now they don’t talk about God in Planes, but they do illustrate this point pretty well.  Dusty felt like he lost his life when couldn’t race anymore.  It wasn’t his choice, but it was a loss—an important loss because it forced him to change directions.  Then he willingly gave up the pursuit of his own life (dreams, etc.) when he agreed to help Mayday and become a firefighter (and the Bible says a lot about doing things for our friends and being a good Samaritan, etc.).    But, as the Bible says, it was in these moments and acts of losing what he felt was his life that he found life.  He found a new career that he loved, helped his friend save his job, the town save their airport, and saved other people’s lives along the way.

Dusty kept on “losing” his life, willingly laying it down for the good of others—even, at one point, pushing his motor beyond its capacity with the broken gear box to save two stranded old vans from certain death in a fire.   In doing so he saved their lives, but he also crashed, just as he was told he would.  He gave his life, laid it down, willingly, for the good of others.  In this ultimate act of sacrifice and dying to self, Dusty was saved.  Near death, Maru the mechanic brought him into the operating room…  Maru not only fixed Dusty, but was able to recreate his gearbox and put him back together—better than new.

I can’t help but think of Joseph, in the Old Testament.  He had a dream, as a young kid, of being a ruler over the people.  Life didn’t turn out that way though—at least not for a long time.  He was sold into slavery by his own brothers, then he was falsely accused and thrown into prison.  Betrayal, slavery, prison, falsely accused…not exactly the life he dreamed of.  But Joseph chose to serve God, even in prison…and it was in prison that he met the assistants to the King who later recommended him to the King for a position.  It wasn’t long after that before he was a ruler over the land, second only to the King.

David had a similar story.  He was anointed the King of Israel.  He killed Goliath.  He was on a straight course up!  Except for the fact that the reigning King was jealous of him and wanted to kill him.  After his initial success, David spent quite a lot of time running for his life and hiding in caves.  He could have pursued his dreams.  He could have killed King Saul—he had a couple chances.  But David chose to wait upon the Lord.  He laid down his rights and set aside his own ambition, dying to self, so that He could wait upon the Lord and HIS timing, plans and purposes.  David honored the King (as God commanded), and God honored David by making him King in time.

Have you a dream that’s been squashed?  Have you received bad news?  Maybe an injury ruined your dreams of playing ball.  Maybe cancer is threatening your life, or the life of someone you love.  Maybe you were hit with a financial burden and your dreams of owning that house, or taking that vacation are over.  Maybe you can’t have children, or were turned down for that scholarship or program or promotion…  Is the life you were hoping for been put on hold, or maybe even rendered impossible?

It is not the end.  As long as you are here on earth, there is a purpose for you.  You may have to lose your life to find it (God says you will), but find it you can.  Follow Dusty’s example—serve the Lord and serve others with your life.  Every time Dusty made a choice to do what was best for his fellow car/plane, he was blessed.   Don’t let this change in your dreams be the end of your hope.  Look for what God will do when you surrender and accept all things from His hand.  God is in the business of turning things around—water into wine, ashes into beauty, water into dry land, death into life—it’s His nature, and He’ll do it for you.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Have you ever had your life turned upside down by bad news?
  • Dusty’s bad news led him to some good things (being a fire fighter, new friends, saving people’s lives, meeting someone who could fix his gear box, etc.). Have you ever had bad news that led to something good in your life?  Or do you know of any examples of this in someone else’s life?
  • How did Dusty’s willingness to help a friend lead to good things in his life?
  • Have you ever done something for someone else but found that you were the one that was blessed in the end?
  • Matthew 10:39 says that, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” What do you think that means?  What does it have to do with Dusty?  What does it have to do with you (and maybe with your bad news)?

[1] Matthew 10:39, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

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