The Stray – Movie Discussion
The Stray is a sweet, family-friendly movie based on a true story about a family and their dog. When Mitch suggests to his wife, Michelle, that they should get a dog, she reluctantly agrees that they can pray and ask for one, and if a stray dog shows up, she’ll accept it as God’s will and let it stay, but she won’t go looking for one. Not long after, a stray dog shows up and they get Pluto. Here are a few of the life-lessons you will find in the movie.
- God is not too busy to care about your desires. Rachel, their daughter, immediately prays for a dog (hearing her mom’s challenge to her dad). Michelle tells Rachel that “God has better things to do than get us a stray!” More because she doesn’t want a dog than because she doesn’t believe God cares. But in either case, the message, when the dog shows up, is clear—God DOES care and HE is NOT too busy and does NOT have better things to do… He cares about the little things that we care about. He cares about the flowers of the field and the birds of the air—He certainly cares for us. “Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you,” (1 Peter 5:7).
- When you make a lot of mistakes, you have a lot to be sorry for. Let me explain. Mitch was busy all the time with work and frequently missed his son’s games. He told Christian he was sorry, but Christian, wisely, pointed out, “You’re always sorry because you’re never there.” We have a choice—we can always be sorry because we keep making the same mistakes, or we can stop making those choices and stop having to apologize. We have choices. We don’t have to live in a constant state of apology. We can choose to make better choices in the first place. As Jesus famously said, “Go and sin no more.”
- Just because you are working at something close to your dream, doesn’t mean you are actually working at your dream. Mitch said they were in LA chasing their dreams, but Michelle pointed out, “Your dreams or ours? Because my dream is a happy family and we’re not doing so well. And you’re dream is to be a writer and you’re not doing that either.” He was reading other people’s screen plays, but not writing his own. It was close, but that’s not the same. He was helping other peoples’ dreams come true, not chasing his own.
- You can believe in someone without believing in the direction they are currently headed in. Michelle told Mitch, “I believe in you. I do. I just don’t believe in this version of you. I definitely don’t believe in this version of us.” She wasn’t giving up on Mitch, but she was redirecting him and helping him get back on track.
- “Some things take time to fix” – that’s what Michelle told Mitch about his broken relationship with his son. He was frustrated that Christian wasn’t immediately receptive to his attempts, but she kept reminding him, some things take time to fix. And frankly, some things are worth taking the time and effort to fix.
- Often, God puts the answer to our need into play long before our need arises. Michelle commented about Pluto, “He was the answer to problems we didn’t know we had.” They’d prayed for a dog, God sent them one, and he turned out to be the solution, the answer, to problems they weren’t even aware of. Before they even had need, God was in motion, supplying the answer. We see this over and over in the Bible. Just look at how often God sets in motion raising up a deliverer for His people so that he is ready when the time is right. God is always at work.
- God can use even bad things for good (Romans 8:28). When Mitch and his son and son’s friends got struck by lightning, as horrific as it was, it brought him and his son back together. They lost their dog, but gained a relationship with each other.
- Ask in confidence. When Christian was praying for his Dad’s life, he heard God tell him to “ask in confidence.” God tells us to pray with confidence in His Word. See Hebrews 11:6, Ephesians 3:12, Hebrews 4:15-16…to name a few!
- When God moves you to pray for someone, do it! Michelle did not know why her daughter was compelled to pray for Mitch and Christian on their camping trip, but they prayed for them anyway. Turns out, God had them praying for their loved ones in their time of need. As Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us, He asks us to join Him in intercession for each other.
- Sometimes you have to give up something to gain something better. Jesus tells the parable about the man who sold all his possessions to buy a field because the field had a great treasure buried in it. He had to give up all he had to gain something of even greater value (Matthew 13:44-46). This is exactly what Mitch had to do. He had to give up his career in LA and all that he had worked for to gain back his family. In so doing, he also found the career he had truly wanted all along.