My favorite “last line” in a movie is from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 To Catch A Thief. Grace Kelly has thought that Cary Grant is the cat burglar who has been stealing jewels from rich mansions on the Mediterranean coast. When she finds out she was wrong, she chases him down to his own home to apologize. It’s Cary Grant and Grace Kelly and it’s a movie, so they kiss. So far, it’s like a romantic comedy on the Hallmark Channel.
After the kiss, still in his arms, Grace looks out at the beautiful countryside view over Cary’s shoulder and says,
“Oh, mother will love it up here!”
Hitchcock holds the camera on the two a moment longer. Cary doesn’t say a word but he backs up enough that we can see he is looking at this girl in his arms. All we can see is his right eye. It is enough.
The picture fades out.
When I first saw this movie on TV as a boy, the twist caught me completely by surprise and I laughed out loud. It has stayed in my memory as one of the funniest, most delightful movie endings I have ever seen. For some reason it drifted back in my memory the other night as I lay there in bed, awake in the darkness. After all these years, it still made me smile in amusement, replaying in my mind.
And, still awake, I began to ponder why I found it so funny. In a way, it was a kind of daring joke to play on an audience. They’ve gone to the movies to get away from real life for a couple hours. Suddenly, the dream characters who have been helping them escape remind them of the real world they must return to and the responsibilities that surround each one of us. Cary Grant nor any of us can enter into a relationship only for our own interests. We enter into a web of relationships and responsibilities when we connect with each person in our lives.
Recently I watched a lecture by Dr. Hugh Ross that took up the problem of trying to harmonize the Book of Genesis with science. As a side note, he casually tossed out a reason to explain why God created the Universe at all. Dr. Ross said it was because God wanted to redeem “billions of people” for His kingdom. This purpose was in place before God started His work of Creation. He gave two verses to ground that claim.
II Timothy 1: 9. [God] has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
Titus 1: 2. a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,
Time itself was a part of the Creation. Thus, Paul’s reference to “time” can be understood as a reference to the rest of the act of Creation described in Genesis and elsewhere. Dr. Ross jarred me into seeing the big picture. I knew Jesus came to save more than just me. But it’s easy for me to be preoccupied with my part of the story and forget about the rest of it.
No wonder I rarely can understand the design God makes of my life. It’s a design so big I can’t see it all. It’s not primarily about me. It’s about me and everybody else.
Love God and love your neighbor, Jesus said. At first you may feel attracted to Jesus and want to give your life to him. But he has a family. A relationship with him will inevitably include a relationship with them. It may be a surprise to realize that. You may stare, at first, and want to reconsider just how big a change this will mean to your life. But it’s a package deal. all or nothing. And it’s not really the end. It’s just the beginning.