Over the weekend, my wife and I caught “Ephraim’s Rescue,” T.C. Christensen’s latest film about miracles on the Mormon Trail.
It’s the story of Ephraim Hanks, a pioneer with a healing touch. As Hanks heals others of their ills and “rescues” them, he finds himself spiritually rescued through his unselfish service.
My wife, an artist, is a visual person. She came away with images in her mind of blisters, blood and blackened toes. She also felt a grateful shiver for the faith of her fathers.
I came away with snippets of dialog, some memorable lines and even a joke or two.
We both had much to think and talk about.
It is true, for instance, that a dramatic rescue can trigger a grand change in people.
But during the credits, when photos of the rescuers and the rescued played across the screen along with lines about their lives, it was soon obvious that people who are saved by miracles usually go on to live much the way they lived before, though with an elevated sense of life.
At least that has been my experience.
I have been spiritually rescued — like Ephraim Hanks — and I have been physically called back from the grave, like those who came beneath his hands.
The book I wrote about it all is even called “Rescued.”
Yet, I have lived much the same as I lived before.
The difference has been in the details.
I feel gratitude more often now, and the feeling lingers.
Little annoyances fade more quickly than before.
My spiritual taste buds are sharper.
The colors of my life seem richer.
And I’m more willing to take the long view.
Many people who know me, however, would say I’m the same guy I always was.
Well, I am, and I’m not.
I sometimes wonder if Lazarus had those same feelings.
He returned to the world after two days in the tomb. But the scriptures don’t mention any great change. As far as we know, he didn’t become an apostle or a memorable missionary. My guess is he lived as he lived before, doing what he always did, except down inside where the meanings are.
T.C. Christensen's film called to mind another rescue movie. “Saving Private Ryan” is the story of a soldier who gives his life to get another young soldier home. At the end of the film, we see an old man trudging through a cemetery. It is Private Ryan himself, the rescued boy. He turns to his wife and asks, “Have I been a good man?”
She tells him he has.
And that is that.
Private Ryan didn’t become ambassador to China, didn’t invent the cellphone or win the World Series.
He simply lived his life as he always had.
The difference was, he lived it a little bit better.