Morgan Freeman used to strut across my TV screen, beaded leather vest swaying, dancing and singing as he put words together to make a sentence as the character “Easy Reader” on the iconic children’s television show, The Electric Company. He was kind, fun, and strong. I felt safer when Morgan was on the screen, as if his presence assured me it’s all gonna be alright.
In Bruce Almighty Freeman played God — one of a very few cinematic depictions of God as a black man. In countless other films and television shows, Freeman served as the narrative voice of God. So, it is awe-inspiring to watch as the man (not the actor) searches for God in an upcoming series, The Story of God.
In a recent conversation with executive producer, Lori McCreary, she told me: “Morgan is the most curious person I’ve ever met.”
I watched Freeman’s curiosity abound as I viewed the first episode in a theater full of faith leaders was, the first word that came to mind was seeker.
Seekers are open, curious, earnest explorers. They are on the hunt for truth, meaning, and purpose. They are in touch with the questions of their lives. They are in touch with their need. There is a profound humility in the seeking process. To be a seeker, one must admit she is not God. He must acknowledge that there is something to understand and experience beyond his current reality. In The Story of God, we become seekers on Freeman’s journey. Our eyes are opened to our own questions about God, death, life, love, and purpose.
I remember when my first questions about God surfaced. My best friend and I lay on the green grass beside the great spruce in the middle of my neighbor’s lawn. I was about 6 years old. We looked up at the sky and blew dandelion wishes (aka seeds) up to God. Cotton ball clouds floated overhead. It was there that I first imagined what God looked like. He was old. He had white hair and a white beard. He was dressed in a white robe, sitting on a stone throne — on a cloud. And in my 6-year-old imagination when I blew my dandelion wish up to God, it became a prayer. What I didn’t know was whether God heard our prayers — and if so, did God answer?
There was a lot I didn’t know then. I didn’t know God’s name. I didn’t know Jesus. I didn’t know that Jesus lived in a time and place of horrific oppression and occupation. I didn’t know his young mother sang a song proclaiming the freedom of her people when she realized she was pregnant with the promised one — the Messiah. I didn’t know Jesus taught his followers to pray a prayer that would pit them against the forces of empire — proclaiming God’s kingdom come, God’s will be done and not Caesar’s. I didn’t know any of that. All I knew what my own hope. I hoped that there was a God beyond myself, beyond my family, beyond my neighborhood. My 6-year-old soul felt God’s absence and yearned to be brought near.
In The Story of God, Freeman approaches each new experience with the same child-like wonder. This man who has played God on film is truly, earnestly seeking God in real life and we get the rare privilege of witnessing a seekers’ journey.
I wish this story of God asked questions about justice, oppression, and use of power. These are the questions at the heart of the Judeo-Christian story of God — from the story of Cain and Abel, from Joseph who was sold into slavery, from Moses who commanded Pharaoh to “Let my people go!” through all the prophets to Jesus, himself, who stood before the people and opened the scroll to Isaiah 61 — the story of God is about kingdoms in conflict, the Kingdom of God versus the kingdoms of men. It is about the human impetus to dominate and control and God’s way of peace.
In The Story of God we have opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with the seekers’ journey. And perhaps our seeking will lead us to those deeper questions. And perhaps those deeper questions will lead us to seek justice. Perhaps they will lead us to seek peace.