It is 1972 when young Richard Collier is celebrating the success of the opening night of his play. At the party, Richard is approached by an old lady who presses a pocket watch into his hand and mysteriously says “Come back to me.” That same evening the woman returns to her residence and dies. Fast forward eight years, and after a breakup with his girlfriend, Richard travels to the Grand Hotel where he becomes enchanted with the picture of Elise McKenna, a beautiful actress from 1912. Upon digging deeper into the life of Elise, he finds out that she was the one who gave him the pocket watch eight years earlier. With his curiosity piqued, he learns more about Elise. He finds Elise’s former housekeeper, and learns that Elise had a music box which depicted the Grand Hotel and plays Richard’s favorite piece (a piece that is written in 1934), and also a book on time travel. From there Richard becomes obsessed on how he can travel back in time to meet Elise. This story, of course, is the story from the movie Somewhere in Time, released in 1980, and portrayed by Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. I won’t share any more of the plot with you, in case you are interested in seeing the movie for yourself. The movie didn’t do well at the box office, as it came up against the blockbuster Blues Brother’s film. However, after home video viewing and cable broadcasting the movie has become a cult classic.
To me, it’s a timeless love story, with a smattering of science-fiction and a whole lot of drama. I’ve watched Somewhere in Time more than once. Obviously, many other people have done likewise. There’s that certain amount of mystery when the pocket watch is trust into Richard’s hand that appeals to those of us who enjoy the film. Enough so, that we want to see Richard succeed in traveling back in time, we want the two characters to meet, fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after. It was memorable enough to me that when I think of the words “Come back to me,” I am immediately immersed back into imagery of the ever famous Grand Hotel (Mackinac Island, Michigan).
Our minds are able to retain bits of information that appeal to us, and they are revealed to us when we see a sight, listen to a song, or hear those words that are memorable to us. It was this way with me this morning when I read the following in Joel 2:
12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. (Joel 2:12-13, ESV)
I almost hyperfocused on the words “return to me,” and although the Lord’s words were not exactly the same as Elise’s plea of “come back to me,” I instantly had visions of the old woman pleading with the young playwright.
We the audience like those timeless love stories, well, ok, you might not, but I do. I like when love wins out over everything else. Just a few days ago we Christians gathered together to celebrate the greatest love story ever told – the story of the love that God the Father has for His beloved children. Except this story is not fiction as presented in the movie Somewhere in Time, it’s true. God sends His only son Jesus, in the form of a tiny baby into our world. Jesus learns, grows, and walks the earth as one of us. His purpose, to bring all of God’s children into a right relationship with Him. But, to do this Jesus must suffer the most excruciating, humiliating death that has ever been invented. After this death, which is reserved for Roman criminals, His lifeless body is placed in a tomb. On the third day, Sunday, Jesus is resurrected from the dead and glorifies God the Father. Jesus has done for us, that which we could not do for ourselves. Jesus lived the perfect life. Jesus sacrifices His life so that we can be in a right relationship with God.
Over and over in the Old Testament, we hear God ask us to come back to Him. He longs for us to walk in harmony with Him.
“Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 1:3, ESV)
“but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ (Nehemiah 1:9, ESV)
“I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7, ESV)
And, all we have to do is receive the gift that Jesus gives to us. We can’t earn it, all we have to do is to profess our faith. In my opinion, that’s the ultimate true-love story.
“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9, ESV)