The Heart of Man is an honest and tender collection of vulnerable and brave stories. Stories of those who have been broken by sexual abuse, chained to their pornography addiction and sexual sin, and have had marriages wrecked by sexual betrayal. These same broken stories become a collection of tales of God’s redemptive grace. It could become one of the most uncomfortable films you’ll ever fall in love with.
Admittedly, after briefly reading the synopsis of this film, all I really knew was that it was about the heart of man in regards to sexual abuse and sexual sin. I began to gather my thoughts with the assumption that it would provide a message that would be valuable for men and husbands. I was caught off guard, however, by how it moved me as a woman, a daughter, and a wife. I also gathered that it might measure up to the standard quality of a typical faith-based film. While I do love many of the faith-based films, I have noticed that the message is often what keeps the low-quality production afloat. This is not the case in The Heart of Man. Both the message and the cinematography are of equally high caliber by any measure of filmmaking standards.
The Heart of Man includes the prodigal stories and words of wisdom from William Paul Young (The Shack), Dr. Dan B. Allender, Tony Anderson (co-founder Unearthed), Jackie Hill Perry (Spoken Word Artist), John Lynch (co-author “The Cure”), Traylor Lovvorn (former account executive) and Kevin Triplett (former swat officer).
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.
Psalm 139:7-12 (The Message)
A theatrical presentation of Psalm 139 from Eugene Peterson’s, The Message, sets up the film as we watch a father masterfully craft a violin for his son. He then begins to teach the young boy to play. They play their music together until one day they don’t. The imagery of God’s consistent and loving song being played over us while His beloved creation runs to human desire over our desire for Him develops throughout the film. The “song” brilliantly coincides with the real-life stories of those who have been broken by addiction, wrecked from shame and have lived to discover that the song they now play is more magnificent than they could have ever imagined – for it is the song that “sings us into healing” ~William Paul Young.
“The better storyline, in a way, would be ‘one day I finally figured out how messed up I was so I went and got help.’ No. Some of us are too broken to ever think that far outside of ourselves. A lot of us have to get caught. This is a great and terrifying grace.” ~William Paul Young
The Heart of Man is about a loving God who is with us in our pain, in our addiction and even in our shame. It is a story of a loving Father who “loves me too much to allow me to stay in a world that I’ve built for myself.” ~Tony Anderson
The Heart of Man encourages us to reach out to a big God as opposed to reaching out for a bigger fig leaf.
While many earthly fathers have fallen short in the area of being a good and loving father, The Heart of Man has succeeded in portraying how God the Father loves us fiercely and fully. He isn’t pounding the gavel wanting us to stop doing whatever it is we are doing, He extends His hand. He wants to be in it with us. He wants to help us walk out of it.
In one particular scene, Tony Anderson recounts how he was preaching against sexual sin one morning in church and binging on pornography that evening. The next morning he met with God and had a vision. He saw himself in prison. He carried his tray of food with chains on his wrists and sat down at a table. Jesus came in and sat down across from him.
I asked Him, “Will you eat another meal with me?”
Jesus said, “I’ll eat with you anytime you want.” ~Tony Anderson
The entire film is permeated with grace and concludes with this unforgettable line from William Paul Young, “You are the one that He left the ninety-nine to find.”
If you missed the one day only theater showing on September 14th, be watching for it to come out digitally and on DVD. It will be a valuable resource for men, women, engaged couples as well as healthy and hurting marriages. I could see this being a very useful tool for church small groups who are open to vulnerability and willing to seek out healing with reckless abandon. It may not be easy to watch but it could be just what is needed to begin playing a new song.
Visit the film’s website for more information, updates, useful resources and how you can continue the journey of finding how your “brokenness is a bridge, not a barrier”.
*Note that the content is not appropriate for young audiences. I can see how in some cases, the message could be beneficial for an older teen or young adult who is struggling with sexual brokenness, but I would highly encourage parents to watch it first.
Watch the featurette.