Main Point: Life has a way of crumbling and falling down around us. We all need a fortress to protect us. God is that fortress.
The Movie Clip: Something Sturdy
As a movie, San Andreas was a huge disaster…to San Francisco, that is! It was released in the spring of 2015 and had millions of movie goers sitting on the edge of their seats for over two hours. And why not? San Andreas pitted measly humans against one of the greatest forces on earth: mother nature.
The movie follows an emergency helicopter pilot Ray (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and his ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino) as they search for their daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario) in the midst of a huge earthquake that’s leveling the state of California.
In typical fashion, this movie starring Johnson is pretty family friendly. Yeah, there are a few mild references to a couple of adult themes here and there, and there’s plenty of dangerous situations, but at its core, San Andreas is a movie about a father and mother trying to save their daughter.
Note: You’ll need to buy or rent this movie and cue it up the following scene if you’d like to show the movie clip to your students. (You could even expand the short clip for context if you prefer.)
Introducing the Clip:
If you haven’t seen San Andreas yet, you’re in the minority, for sure. It was a fantastic film that kept making our mouths drop open in disbelief as Ray, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, desperately tried to save his daughter Blake after they were separated by a tremendous earthquake that rocked the California coastline. The problems and harrowing disasters only grow more intense as the movie moves toward its conclusion. In this scene we’re about to watch, I want you to pay close attention to how Ray tries to help the people outside of AT&T Park in San Francisco. Then, listen closely to how he answers the woman’s question at the very end of the clip.
BEGIN CLIP AT 1 HOUR 15 MINUTES AND 9 SECONDS
(This clip is a high energy scene that bounces back and forth between Ray and Emma’s search for their daughter, Blake. They’re all trapped in San Francisco as a mighty earthquake is hitting the region. The scene is mostly action, but there’s one important line we want to focus on in the discussion. It comes from the end of our clip.)
WOMAN: How did you know we’d be safe?
RAY: Just get up against something sturdy. Protect yourself. Triangle of life.
END CLIP AT 1 HOUR 18 MINUTES AND 49 SECONDS.
Most of us have never experienced an actual earthquake, but they are absolutely terrifying. Everything – and I mean everything – is shaking. Nothing seems certain and nothing seems secure. We’re not going to talk about “scientific” earthquakes in our break out groups for the next few minutes; instead, we’re going to talk about the other “earthquakes” in life that tend to throw us for a loop and knock us off our feet. The longer I go through life, the more I realize that life has a way of crumbling and falling down around us. In those times, we all need a fortress to protect us. God is that fortress. That’s what we’re going to talk about now.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and which natural disaster you think is the most terrifying. And no, “sharknados” aren’t real….
- ASK A FEW: Has anyone in our group ever been in an actual earthquake? If so, can you briefly describe what it was like?
- ASK A FEW: What do you think was going through the minds of the people in the clip as the ground shook violently under their feet?
- ASK A FEW: Earthquakes shake the ground. What are some of the “earthquakes” that shake your life?
- ASK A FEW: In the clip we just watched, Ray said our best bet was to get up against “something sturdy.” Who or what is “sturdy” in your life that offers you support in the worst of times?
- ASK A FEW: Do you have a habit of turning to God in troubling times? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: What usually happens when you turn to God in difficult times?
Read the following passage:
Psalm 18:1-6 (NIV)
For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD. He sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: I love you, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. 4 The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 5 The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
I can only imagine what it’s like living through an earthquake. Some parts of our country have hurricanes. Some have tornadoes or tsunamis. Other places have blizzards, and yes, some have earthquakes. The very ground under your feet shakes, and it must be terrifying. In those moments, you better have a plan to survive.
In the clip we just watched, Ray said that a person’s best bet was to get up against something sturdy and hold on for dear life. I think that’s good advice. For him and the rest of the people on the street, that “something sturdy” was a wall.
For you and me, that “something sturdy” is actually a “Someone study.” God.
I wish I had the time to tell you a few stories about David’s life. That guy seemed to move from the frying pan into the fire…all the time! He was a man that God used in many marvelous – and scary – ways throughout his life. If he wasn’t fighting off lions and bears from his flock of sheep, he was fighting off giants named Goliath who wanted to overrun his land. If he wasn’t fighting off armies, he was fighting off people in his own family who wanted him dead.
Yeah, David had a lot of “earthquaking” moments in his life. And in all of them, he put his entire hope and trust in God.
I strongly suggest you do the same.
No, I don’t think any of you have to fight a bear, a lion, or a giant tomorrow. You probably don’t have to make decisions that affect your entire nation. And hopefully, none of your family members are trying to kill you!
Even still, you need a fortress in life, and God can be that fortress for you.
Think about that for a moment. A fortress. How solid and strong does that sound?!?! A fortress is impenetrable. It’s safe. It’s reassuring. That’s what God says He is in His Word. He told David He would be his fortress…and that’s exactly what God was for King David. That’s what God wants to be for you, as well.
Right now, I invite you to tell God what’s troubling you. I’m going to give you a moment to quietly speak to God from your heart and tell Him what has you shaking, what has you afraid, and what has you trapped. (Give your students time to do this.)
Next, I want you to ask Him to help you. Tell Him that you need Him. Tell Him exactly what you need Him to do and ask Him to move on your behalf. (Again, pause for a moment to all your students the time to speak to God.)
Finally, I want you to promise God that you will obey whatever He tells you to do. Those people on the street thought they were doing the right thing by hunkering down beside a car. Ray ran over to them and told them the best thing to do was get up against something sturdy. Those who did, lived. Those who didn’t, died. So, if God is willing to lead you, you need to be willing to be obedient. Right now, give Him your promise to do so. (Again, give your students time to make this promise.)
I’m going to close us in prayer in just a moment. But if you need to talk about this some more, if you need a little help with some “earthquake” you’re facing, please come and speak to me or one of our adult leaders. We’d be honored to be “something sturdy” in your life right alongside of God.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.