The movie Overcomer by the Kendrick Brothers addresses the issue of identity in Christ and embracing it. Of all their movies this one ministered to me the most because it reminded me of who I am in Christ. Some of the problems in this world are due to an identity crisis leaving many people unsure about their value.
I’ve watched this movie many times now (not sure of the number) and picked up valuable life lessons worth remembering. One of the famous lines is, “When you find your identity in the One who created you, it will change your whole perspective.” The movie Overcomer changed my perspective about life and in this post I share my insights.
Here are 15 Life Lessons to remember as you go through everyday life:
1. Forgiveness liberates
When Hannah decided to forgive her father for not being there for her, it changed her life. Forgiveness is not just for the person being forgiven but also for the one giving it. When you hold on to unforgiveness it makes you bitter and unpleasant to be around.
In the Bible in John 20:23 we learn that when sins are not forgiven they are retained. When you retain sins you perpetrate the same things done to you to other people. That’s how sins are passed from one generation to another. But, when sins are released they are cut off from your life and future generations.
On the other hand, when Barbara was holding on to bitterness towards Thomas she was constantly miserable. When she finally forgave him it brought her peace and a restored relationship with her granddaughter.
If you read the book you’ll find out that she got a new and better job than what she had for years. Forgiveness is a powerful and beautiful thing. This may be one of biggest life lessons you get from the movie.
2. God ends on a positive
Thomas Hill lived selfishly for the greater part of his life and his sins caught up to him. Sick and broken he gave his life to Christ but it didn’t seem He could still be useful. He had hurt his daughter, his daughter’s mom, grandmother and many others.
Because God is so loving He always wants to identify Himself with those who live for Him. A chance encounter with John Harrison in hospital takes his life in a new direction.
Unbeknown to both of them God would use that relationship to restore a right relationship with his daughter. His life could have just ended by giving His life to Christ but God still had a plan for him.
Thomas Hill would go on to teach John and others about the value of knowing who they are in Christ. The best thing that happened to him was coaching her daughter to winning the State Championship cross country race. In the few short years he knew Christ he left a legacy that lived long in the hearts of those that got to know him.
3. Trust Holy Spirit Inspired Ideas
When John connects the dots and realizes the relationship between Thomas and Hannah he has a decision to make. After much prayer he realizes that he needs to do what’s right though it might not sit well with Hannah’s grandmother.
Feelings can suggest we do otherwise but when we follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting we make good decisions and prosper.
Hell breaks loose when Hannah’s grandmother discovers what had been happening and John for a moment doubts himself. However, God reassures him when relationships are restored and God works mightily in their lives. In a moment John also received insight about how to help Hannah win the State Championship race.
At the end God affirms his choices by moving mightily in the lives of those put in his life. The Holy Spirit knows the mind of God and the revelation he gives us reveals what God desires of us.
4. Honor God’s Will above your own
When John’s plans started falling apart it brought him frustration which then turned to despondency. He lost his basketball team and was given roles he didn’t even want. To make matters worse he got a salary pay cut and struggled with how to get his son through college.
What do you tend to do when similar things happen in your life? For the most part the tendency is to worry and try to use our own intelligence to figure things out. John’s encounter with Thomas changes his perspective about what’s important in life. When John embraces his situation and submits everything to God his life begins to change.
He becomes faithful with what he has and comes to realize God’s purpose for him. In a seemingly hopeless situation God uses him to restore a right relationship between Thomas and his daughter Hannah. In the end John gets another coaching job as a basketball coach and his son in college.
It’s a classic case of seeking first the Kingdom of God and then having other things added to you. One of the most important life lessons for sure.
5. To win big give everything you’ve got
Your best is all you can do and no one can fault you for doing so. More often than not when you do you reap great rewards. When Hannah runs the State Championship race she gives everything she has and wins. She had run well in other races but what was the difference when she won?
Hannah followed great coaching advice, firstly. Secondly, she refused to let her asthmatic condition to be a limitation. Towards the end of her race she throws away her inhaler in a defiant move. It’s as if she was saying, “No more excuses!”
At the end she was breathing heavily and collapses just past the finish line. It turned out that she won by an inch ahead of her closest competitor, the previous State champion. Sometimes you just have to put that extra bit of effort to achieve the goals you set in life.
6. God uses foolish things to get glory
What are the chances of winning for someone with no parents and is asthmatic? From looking at the surface, not much perhaps. That was the case with Hannah; a young girl struggling with her identity and born with asthma which affects her athletics performance.
When John Harrison is first assigned to work with her in the cross country program he feels that way. In the beginning he sees no hope of helping her win any race. However, as he gets to know her while God deals with his own heart his perspective begins to change. John begins to realize the plan God has for their lives and embraces his role as her coach.
In the end Hannah wins a cross country State Championship race, something John wouldn’t have expected of her. The major life lessons are not to judge someone by their cover and minister to them as God leads. You never know what God has invested in them.
7. One soul matters
In a world that’s so focused on numbers and the bottom line it’s easy to discredit some things. While numbers and statistics are important they shouldn’t be the main measure of success. Hannah shows up as the only runner to participate in cross country for her high school which discourages John Harrison.
Having been accustomed to working with a basketball team he found it pointless to invest his time in one person. He even goes to the school principal Mrs. Brooks to try and get her to dismiss the cross country program. Mrs. Brooks has none of it, however, to John’s disappointment.
Later on in John and Hannah’s relationship he begins to realize that God put him in her life for a purpose. When John successfully reunites Hannah with her estranged father he’s humbled by the work God does in their lives. At the end John wonders what might have been had he not met Hannah.
Whatever you’re doing in life remember that you’re ministering to someone. Even if it’s just one person it makes a big difference in eternity. This is one of the biggest life lessons worth remembering.
8. A father’s influence makes a big difference
Hannah does quite well when coached by John Harrison but does exceptional when her father coaches her at the end. John coaches Hannah during the season and her father coaches her for the most important race- the State Championship.
John records Thomas giving instructions to Hannah for the race which she listens to during the Championship race. Hannah’s face lights up when she hears her dad’s voice and the affirmations he gives her throughout. John himself is also surprised at how well she does and expresses how proud he is of her.
A father’s role in parenting cannot be underestimated. He can either build massive confidence in his children or make them go down the wrong path in life. Fathering is a privilege and a huge responsibility that must be handled with care. Above all, remember that you have a perfect Father in heaven who loves you and is proud of you.
9. If God is your coach you’ll be victorious
My favorite scene of the movie is during the State Championship race towards the end. First of all it’s emotional, and secondly it carries one of the best lessons to remember. When Hannah hits play on the media player strapped to her arm she hears her father’s voice ready to coach her.
As she goes through the course her father Thomas guides and directs her every step of the way. By following his instructions, Hannah wins the race and beats the previous State champion to the finish line. Going through life is much the same when we allow God to coach us and direct our steps.
We miss the mark in life when we try to do our own things when God already has a road map for us to follow. He sees your entire life’s journey even when you don’t and your job is to trust His leading. When you trust every step of your life’s journey you’ll be victorious.
10. God gets to define you
The issue of identity is the main theme of Overcomer and it ministered to me in a big way. It reminds us that only God gets to define His creation. You are not what the world says you are. Almost all the characters in the movie had to come to this understanding.
John Harrison defined himself as a basketball coach until that was stripped away from him. His son Ethan also on his basketball team struggles too when he sees his teammates leave town. Hannah feels like a failure because she doesn’t have parents and is afflicted by asthma.
Through a series of events in the story of this movie God helps them understand who they are in Him. You also don’t have to let anything but God define who you are. Some of the measures the world uses are money, fame, and appearance which are things that change any time.
If everything is taken away from you remember that God loves you and has a great plan for your life. Knowing these life lessons will give you peace of mind in every situation.
11. Appeal to older kids
John Harrison’s relationship with his son Ethan is a good one though not perfect. In the initial stages he coaches his son basketball for which both have a love for the game. When basketball comes to an end, John is assigned the cross country program and desires for Ethan to join him.
Ethan frustrated by the collapse of the basketball program refuses to participate which disheartens John. Ethan even thinks it’s a waste of time and even considers going to another school to continue playing basketball. However, John not wanting to impose his will sits down with Ethan and explains the benefits of cross country. He ends the conversation by asking Ethan to think about it.
Funny enough, Ethan considers joining if his dad does it with him but John is reluctant to run himself, haha. However, while Ethan doesn’t run he rallies other school kids to support the one runner on John’s team, Hannah. As a parent it pays to let mature children make their own decisions after giving them advice.
12. Feelings are deceptive
A number of scenes show us how deceptive feelings can be and why you shouldn’t base your decisions on them. When John and his wife Amy first connected Hannah with his dad it felt like they did wrong. They feared Barbara, Hannah’s grandmother would not be happy given the history between her and Thomas.
When Barbara finds out what had been happening behind her back she threatens John and his wife. John and Amy again feel they did the wrong thing and pray to God. In the end, however, they realize that it was the right thing to do in spite of what they felt.
Another scene is when Hannah collapses at the finish line of the Championship race when toe to toe with Gina. It felt like she had fallen short of winning after giving her best effort. John looked over to Gina and her coach talking to a cross country official all smiles. It seemed Gina had won the race and John felt disappointment but was proud of how well Hannah had run.
The official then came over to them and broke the news that Hannah had won instead, just by an inch. The mood all of a sudden changed for John and Hannah and the celebrations began. The life lessons here are not to judge by feelings and that they are misleading.
13. Do what’s right always
When John discovers that Thomas is Hannah’s father he realizes that he needs to connect them. After gathering more information about Thomas, Hannah and Barbara the prudent thing seems to be not to get involved. Barbara was Hannah’s guardian after all and going behind her back wouldn’t be right.
While John and his wife Amy get into trouble with Barbara, in the end it proves that they made the right decision. Hannah and her father Thomas are reunited, and Barbara gets liberated from years of bitterness and anger in her heart. Doing the right thing may bring you suffering in the short term but God will reward you.
14. Know your enemy to overcome them
During a meeting of cross country coaches John gets an idea to help Hannah win the cross country State Championship. He studies how the current State Champion Gina won the race the previous year. Together with Thomas they devise a plan for Hannah to conquer her in the upcoming State Championship race.
This culminates in a recording by Thomas coaching her daughter throughout the course helping her win the race. At every point Hannah followed her father’s instruction which was key to her success. In the same way, you must study the enemies that hinder your progress. Doing so will help you come up with strategies to overcome them.
15. God loves you
Last, but not least, the most important thing to remember is that God loves you. He is the one who created you and has great plans for your life. In spite of his dark history, God does a work in Thomas’ life and draws him to Himself. He even grants his desire to reunite with his daughter despite neglecting her years earlier.
Hannah on the other hand gets to experience the love of not only her heavenly Father but her earthly father too. In the six weeks she had with Thomas they created lifetime memories which encouraged her into the future. God isn’t vindictive and waiting to pounce on you for every wrong move you make.
No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done God still loves you. When you give your life to God He forgives you and uses the bad things in your life for good. Of all the life lessons this is one you should have engraved on your heart.