Into the Storm is kind of an updated Twister—lots of escalating tornadoes and scientists who are anxious to study them. Framing the movie is a young student who is doing video interviews for a time capsule. “What would you like to say to yourself in 25 years?” he asks participants. It’s this aspect of the film which gives the easiest segue into matters of spiritual and eternal importance.
At the beginning of the film when people are interviewed, their answers generally focus on material wealth and success. Young high school seniors are confident in their abilities and future success. They tell themselves to make a lot of money, become stars, date beautiful women, etc. They are, in many respects, the biggest entities in their world—the focus of their families, the stars of the school, the best athletes and students, etc., around. The world is their oyster, and they are telling their future selves to seize it and enjoy it, or hoping they already have!
By the end of the movie, everyone is humbled. They have faced something far more powerful than their own existence. They have faced their own mortality in a staggering way…and it changed them. Those same students whose only thought, hours ago, was of their own future glory, now are simply grateful to be alive. They’re humbled.
That second round of interviews reveals a significant shift. Instead of foretelling their own future glory, the students speak with gratitude and humility. They realize they can’t guarantee the future. They can’t guarantee their success, because there are other factors in the world that they can’t control. Here are some of the quotes from those time capsule videos: “Live every day like it’s your last because one day it will be, and for once, I know what I’m talking about.” “In 25 years, it doesn’t matter, you know. Just taking it one day at a time. I’m alive. Nothing else matters.” “We’re here together now and that’s all that matters.”
When you look death in the face, you begin to realize what really matters. After the tornado wiped out their town, they realized that what really mattered was life, each other, relationships. Jesus thought so, too. He said the most important commandments in the whole Bible were the two centered around relationships—your relationship with God and your relationship with man.
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22: 36-40
Into the Storm focuses on the second most important commandment, but it overlooks the first. It’s interesting to me that, in a movie which showcases so many people’s thoughts as they face possible death, no one mentions God; none of them questions if there is life after death. I think it’s not surprising that so many would want to reconcile their relationships with loved ones…but it is surprising that no one seems to question if maybe there is more to this life. You might expect that a few of them might be inclined to reconcile their relationship with God at such an auspicious moment.
It doesn’t really matter though, for discussion purposes. The movie still provides a great opportunity to ask whoever you’re talking to what they would say to their future selves in 25 years. It also provides great opportunity to ask them how might their perspective change if they were facing death, right now, and if they be motivated to “get right with God” at such a time and/or to reconcile some broken relationships on earth. They are simple questions, but they are profound, and not so simply answered.
Questions for Discussion:
- What would you like to say to yourself in 25 years?
- How did the perspective of various characters change throughout the movie? Why?
- How might your perspective change if you were in their shoes?
- The Bible says that the two most important things are 1. Your relationship with God (love the Lord your God with all your heart…) and 2. Your relationship with others (love your neighbor as yourself). How does your life/priorities reflect those two priorities? Are those the two biggest priorities in your life? If you were facing death, would you rearrange your life around those two priorities differently?
- Would you expect that, if the movie were real, some of the characters would be inclined to examine their relationship with God/their thoughts on the afterlife, etc.?