With the Egyptian army close behind them and the Red Sea in front of them, the Israelites had nowhere to go. Trapped, their hearts filled with despair. Yet Moses believed God would fulfill his promise and rescue them. He had faith. Faith in the unseen when overwhelmed by what was seen. Faith in the Words of God rather than the words of man. Faith that giving all to God was the greatest gain.
The film Stand Your Ground, from writer/director Michael McClendon, is based on the true story of a family whose faith is tested during a trial. In the end, will they respond like the Israelites and focus on their fears? Or like Moses, a man who knew the Lord’s goodness even in the darkness?
Francine Locke plays Jackie Carpenter. Her son, Jason Veitch (Drew Matthews), has been charged with felony murder. He is a homebuilder and his recent housing development has been plagued by a string of copper robberies. Jason decides to camp out near the homes one night in hope of catching the thieves, triggering a series of events that eventually lead to the death of a man.
Jason insists the death was accidental. The cops and the DA, however, are convinced Jason took the law into his own hands. His family, led by Jackie, rallies to support him and his defense.
But when their efforts appear futile and his imprisonment inevitable, the family begins to question if God will help them. Thus, the legal battle for Jason’s freedom becomes a fight for their spiritual life as they wrestle to entrust the situation and its outcome to the Lord.
The Apostle Paul writes what the Lord said to him in a moment of desperation, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”, encapsulating the quintessential tension in a life lived for Christ. Our nature wants to strive and achieve but Jesus asks us to surrender and receive.
Every obstacle Jackie faces forces her to confront her response to pain. Her fears – the fear of the unknown, of injustice, of sorrow – imprison her in self-reliance. The central question of the film is, can she step out of the Lord’s way and let Him work or will she continue to worry and do the work herself? Will she trust the reality in front of her or the one promised in Scripture?
The strength of the film is in its intention.
The film is an altar to the Lord to remind those who view it of God’s faithfulness. “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7)
And herein lies what I believe is the potential beauty and power of “Christian” films. Our efforts on screen can fall short in a worldly sense yet be wildly successful for the Kingdom of God because Our Father in heaven can infuse His Holy Spirit into our work, and suddenly the impossible is possible! Lives can be awakened. Hearts transformed. Hope restored. Anything. Everything.
So I want to test my theory with a little experiment, and I need your help. Watch the film.
If the Lord brings something up for you come back to this page and in the comment section below write about the impact it had on your life or the life of someone you watched it with (be sure you ask them before you broadcast their story over the internet). Together we can create a testimony for the Lord, and this film.
Let us remember forever the power and love of the Almighty. Amen.
I don’t suggest viewing the movie with young children. This film has mild violence and deals with complex and intense adult emotions. The story focuses on the innocence of a man accused of murder.
During his trial the defendant, Jason Veitch, recounts his side of the story. As he does so, corresponding images of these events appear, including the shoving and pushing of the men Jason believes are the thieves and the shooting of the man.
Chapter 8 of the Book of Matthew begins with two accounts of men with great faith, a man with leprosy and the centurion. Both believed Jesus capable of performing miracles for them. Jesus says of the latter, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” A few verses later the disciples are in a boat with Jesus when “a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matt. 8:23-27)
- When the storms of life come and you fight to trust the Lord, what kinds of fearful thoughts creep in?
- In which ways do you exercise to “take your thoughts captive”?
- What storm has Christ calmed for you recently that made you stop and ask, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him”?
Want to see more about this film? Watch Stand Your Ground – Official Trailer
Interested in reading more Christian film reviews? Please head over to Gimme Shelter – Movie Review
Kerwin Kuniyoshi is a filmmaker and cultural critic based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His video work can be viewed at Radiologie