What is God’s plan for our lives? How can we know? And is it unavoidable?
These are some of the questions that came to my mind after watching the new film, What If…, which is available in select theatres throughout the country and comes to DVD in March. It also airs on GMC January 30.
Director Dallas Jenkins says that What If was exactly the kind of film his company was looking for, because it It’s a Wonderful Life is his favorite film and it is the kind of movie that would appeals to a Christian and non-Christian audience.
“We’ve been thrilled by the reaction to the film, particularly by the fact that it’s the kind of film you can take your friends to, Christian or non, and not be embarrassed or worry about preachiness,” he commented in an interview.
The film begins at the bus stop where the young Ben Walker gets ready to leave to take a business job instead of going to seminary. He faces the choice to leave his girlfriend, Wendy, and his future of becoming a pastor. All the while, Wendy expresses her instincts that he is about to make the wrong choice by boarding that bus. Several years later, we see him as a successful executive banker with a young, good-looking fiancee. Wendy has moved on and become a missionary on her own.
Despite all that happened, God still has other plans and sends Walker an angel who takes him back to his old home town where the journey had started and asks him a serious question. “Have you ever taken a moment and stopped to think that you’ve lived your life up until now and completely missed the point?” Walker laughs this off until he appears in an alternate reality, the path he would have taken if he had stayed with Wendy and gone to seminary.
As Walker struggles to adapt to his new life, he learns a series of lessons and rediscovers his old passion for serving God. He also falls in love with Wendy, his two daughters, and his church. By the time he becomes content with his new life and learns the lesson that God wanted him to learn, the angel sends him back to his real life where he finds that he is no longer content with it. He breaks up with his trophy fiancee, quits his job, and sets out to find Wendy.
“In our film, God lets Ben Walker stray from him, but He pursues him relentlessly,” says Jenkins in the interview.
The film touches upon our human right to free will, the ongoing search to find our calling, and a possibility at second chances. We can choose our own path, whether it be God’s plan or not. However, God will be there pushing and calling you every step of the way. God has a plan for all of us, but it is up to us to figure it out and make it happen.
It is also about the importance of family above material things. Those moments that family share together are far more valuable than money and possessions, says Jenkins.