There is much about the film worth discussing, and much I wish would have been done differently. However, the character and image from the movie that has stuck with me is the loving father trying to deal with this act of wickedness and a snow globe that represents the fears of all parents, including myself.
Early in the film the father tells his daughter, at that point a toddler, that the environment within a snow globe is the prefect environment. The penguin inside is protected from the forces of the world and can live in peace and protection for a long long time. What father doesn't want to put his children in such a globe. It is terrifying to ponder the forces that surround us in the world. And serial killers are not the beginning and end of those forces. From subtle jabs and teasing in school, destructive words of hate that can weigh on the child's soul, to the physical dangers that lurk from cars to weather to robbers to killers. It's all out there. Can't I create a snow globe for my kids?
The Book of Revelation names both this reality about the world and our fears. In an amazing way Revelation lifts up the gospel that Christ wins on the cross through metaphors and allegories that throw to us images of battles and armies and dragons and fire. Christ defeats these forces of evil and those have faith are promised to live in the Kingdom of God no matter what we face in this world. Wonderfully, in the epilogue, the final chapter of Revelation, the image is of believers entering the "city by the gates" and having "the right to the tree of life (Rev. 22:14)." Permission is granted in these images: "Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift (Rev. 22:17b)."
Fear is taken away forever because, in essence, God has created for us the perfect snow globe in this Kingdom. The forces that would pull us into despair are gone. Not because they are individuals judged to be sinful, but the very forces that would make people into the monsters that haunt the world would simply not exist. "Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murders and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood (Rev. 22:15)."
What disappoints me about the movie The Lovely Bones, and where I am thankful for the gospel message revealed in Scripture, is that those who suffer at the hands of the wicked are liberated from that power forever. The act of death does not mark us for eternity. We do not stand between earth and heaven or even in heaven tormented by their wickedness. Instead we are defined by the love and hope and waters our God showers upon us as we are held in his mighty arms.
Death will not win: whether it be at the hands of a automobile, a heart attack, a murder, or cancer. Those dogs... those monsters... will be left outside, never to harm us again.
In the mean time God walks with us as we journey outside the "snow globe" in the world of darkness. God has shined his light on us through Christ. He's present through my ups and downs... through my sons' ups and downs, through my daughter's ups and downs... through my wife's... through my siblings' and my parents'... And its not up to me to control their situations. Instead, living through faith, each of us does our best to teach, support, love, care, and stand by our loved ones.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:20b)