The Opportunity for Life: Nine Days or Ninety Years, Part 1

Teach us to number our days, 
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

It's safe to say I've interviewed for my lion's share of jobs during my four decades. But none of those interviews bore the weight which I recently observed in the film Nine Days. 

In a solitary bungalow in the desert, an enigmatic man named Will - part host, part interviewer, part judge, part friend - interviews a cast of characters for the opportunity to live. Yes, they are interviewing to be born into a human existence on earth. They have a maximum of nine days to pass through a cadre of assessments ranging from informal conversations, intense interrogations, ethical scenarios, stream of consciousness journaling, and recorded observations of the lives of real humans they can watch on a 24-7 livestream. Ultimately, their fate lies in the hands of their interviewer Will. 

To avoid spoilers, I can tell you that the film Nine Days is an imaginative, evocative rendering that exposes the true brevity of life we each experience this side of the veil. Death is inevitable. What if the life we are now living is really akin to those 'nine days'? Even if we have ninety years as sojourners on this terra firma, is this life perhaps an interview, an audition, for the chance to live "life that is truly life"? 

Nine Days offers an invitation to reflect on life and death, regret and gratitude, longing and passion,  authenticity and judgment, what it truly means to be human, and the call to live a life worthy of the gift which it is. The narrative invites the viewer to inhabit time with integrity, without guile, with honesty, wonder and love. 

On the heels of watching Nine Days I learned of the death of a friend. At 33 years of age, David was healthy by all estimation before his unexpected diagnosis of cancer. Five months later his body is in the ground. On the heels of David's death, my wife's grandpa, well over 90 years of age, made the transition beyond the veil of his earthly sojourn. I rejoice that both men fixed their hope upon the life, death, resurrection, and promise of King Jesus. 

Our lives are a mist, a vapor, a wind, a fading flower of the field. And we do live before a host, a judge, an interviewer, if you will. We each bear, as C.S. Lewis once wrote, the "intolerable compliment" of human freedom as God's image bearers. The very liberty we so crave is also a double-edged blade. 

Apart from the representative, substitutionary, exemplary, and conquering work of love by the God-man Jesus of Nazareth, there is every reason to fear the "interviewer" who is a blazing inferno of white-hot beauty, goodness, truth, and creative power. But because of his mercy, his extravagant, excessive love which covers us by the victory of our King Jesus, we do not have to fear the "interview." Jesus has passed the interview for us. Jesus has usurped the accuser who wants us to fail the interview. The invitation and the challenge, however, is to let go of our attempts to perform and to surrender to his Way. Only then, in imitation of his Way, will we discover the "life that is truly life." 

One of my favorite scenes in the film takes you into the eye of one of the interview candidates. From her perspective, you are able to view the beauty of leaves dancing in a rush of breezy sunlight, you are able to feel and hear the sound of your hand brushing over stone and wood, you are able to delight with her in the surprise of laughter. The scene really does cause you to step back in awe over the joyous fecundity that colors the canvas of our human existence.

Nine days or ninety years. However long your "interview" lasts, look to Jesus the author, the artist, and the life-giver. 


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