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Pollyanna 'Preachin'

By Sally Buckner
Guest Writer -- Pollyanna is a great Disney movie from 1960 featuring Hayley Mills as young Pollyanna and a star-studded cast of characters. If you haven't seen it, I hope you'll check it out for your kids and yourself as well.

Here’s a little background on the movie. After the death of Pollyanna’s parents, she is sent to live with her rich Aunt Polly (played by Jane Wyman). Aunt Polly runs the town, including the way the sermons are written for Sunday service. Pollyanna’s daddy was a minister who always found good things in the Bible to preach about. Therefore, she was quite dismayed to hear the negative preaching style which was encouraged by Aunt Polly – a style that sent the message of control by guilt and fear.

One of my favorite parts in the movie is when the Preacher, played by Karl Malden, gives one of his fire and brimstone sermons.

Let me set the stage for the event that happened while watching the movie. I was on the 3rd floor loft of our friends home with a cozy fire going – just “chillin” as they say and enjoying the afternoon, while my husband, Glenn, was down on the first floor repairing a dishwasher. The preacher was doing one of his wild sermons when he announced in a booming voice, drawing out each word “Death Commmmmes UNEXPECTEDLY!” Just at that precise moment, it was as if lightning and thunder collided in my midst – a blast from downstairs lit up the entire house. I couldn’t imagine what had happened as I raced down the stairs and thought for sure my husband must be a “goner”! Thankfully, he was safe. He must have crossed some wires to cause this explosion.

The whole scene was comical and frightening at the same time – the preacher – his words – the blast! It does make you stop and think of the preacher’s ominous words. If ever death had come at that moment, it certainly would have been unexpectedly.

My first inclination in writing this was to say that God doesn’t need Pollyanna Preachin”. However, I was quite surprised when doing my scripture research that indeed “fire and brimstone” messages are there as clear warnings – but always with an encouraging message of love and hope to reach out and let you know that He has made a way of escape.

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow evil men’s advice, who do not hang around with sinners, scoffing at the things of God: But they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely. They are like trees along a riverbank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper. But for sinners, what a different story! They blow away like chaff before the wind. They are not safe on Judgment Day; they shall not stand among the godly. For the Lord watches over all the plans and paths of godly men, but the paths of the godless lead to doom (Psalm 1:1-6).

The Lord thundered in the heavens; the God above all gods has spoken – oh, the hailstones; oh, the fire! He flashed his fearful arrows of lightning and routed all my enemies. See how they run! Then at your command, O Lord, the sea receded from the shore. At the blast of your breath the depths were laid bare. He reached down from heaven and took me and drew me out of my great trials. He rescued me from deep waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me – I who was helpless in their hands. On the day when I was weakest, they attacked. But the Lord held me steady. He led me to a place of safety, for he delights in me (Psalm 18:13-19).

You can’t sugar coat God’s word. The Bible is full of fire and brimstone warnings to get our attention because this is serious business – your eternity, your destiny. The good news is, however, that there needn’t be any fear or guilt any more. Jesus took care of all that.

He made the way. He is the truth. He is the life. Only abundant life and joy are yours for the asking. Isn’t that great that he does delight in each one of us, and did all this so we can have peace. What a great God we serve!

Bible verses from the Life Application Bible

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