Saturday 23 January 2021

Free Will vs Predestination (Part 1/3) in "Angel's Last Mission: Love" [SPOILER ALERT!]

I was drawn to the storyline of Angel's Last Mission: Love about a ballerina, Lee Yeon Seo (Shin Hye Sun) and an angel, Kim Dan (Kim Myung Soo) - arts and religion, a perfect combination! And indeed it didn't disappoint, for although I don't quite agree with the portrayal of God in the drama, it did give me lots of food for thought on the issue of free will vs predestination as well as other stuff like true love, destiny and purpose.
Yeon Seo, a top ballerina, was blinded in an accident during her last performance. Bitter and frustrated at not being able to dance again, she takes it out on the people around her. Dan inadvertently saves her life when she's caught in a car accident. However, God punishes him for going against His plan, which was for Yeon Seo to die in the accident. Dan is assigned a mission (in human form) to teach Yeon Seo how to love again before he can return to heaven.

Free Will vs Predestination

Predictably, Dan and Yeon Seo fall in love with each other. Sadly, Yeon Seo discovers that Dan will be dissipated into dust as a consequence of falling in love with a human (instead of loving only God). Furthermore, God sends a prophecy to Dan that Yeon Seo will also die soon as that was her destiny all along.

Both Dan and Yeon Seo feel miserable and attempt to reverse each other's impending death without letting the other know - Yeon Seo by offering God her life (through taking a bunch of pills) in exchange for Dan's, and Dan by trying to kill the person who's after Yeon Seo's life. But they both fail and when they each find out what the other was trying to do, they even get into a fight. It is only when they both come to accept God's plans rather than rebel against Him, that they decide to make full use of the time left and could enjoy each other's company again.

Interestingly, their turnaround was due partly to the advice of another fallen angel, Ji Kang Woo (Lee Dong Gun). Kang Woo had a tragic story himself where he had also been in love with a human, but the girl was killed by an archangel under God's orders (ouch! this is where I obviously disagree with the characterisation of God in this drama!) and he becomes a human as punishment for disobeying God. He lived every day filled with resentment against God and even wanted to break Dan and Yeon Seo up.

However, he eventually realises that instead of staying angry with God, the best thing to do would be to live life to the fullest and use his God-given artistic talent to shine. And that is what he counsels Yeon Seo to do - instead of wasting her energy in fighting against God, she should give her best performance in the upcoming ballet production as an offering to Him.

True Love

Yeon Seo (oops! forgot to mention she's regained her sight by now) agrees to dance in her company's production of Giselle. Before it opens, she writes a letter-prayer to God asking Him to pardon Dan should He find her dance offering acceptable.

A parallel is drawn between Giselle, the story of The Little Mermaid (which Dan and Yeon Seo often read together), and Yeon Seo - Yeon Seo takes a stab for Dan then returns to stage for the final dance where Giselle sacrifices herself for her beloved. All the while, Yeon Seo is praying that God will find her dance sacrifice pleasing and allow Dan to live. At the end of the dance, she collapses from the loss of blood and slips into a coma. 

There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for another (John 15:13), so Dan has completed his mission in helping Yeon Seo be able to love others again. Furthermore, here we see a reflection of Jesus' sacrificial love in Yeon Seo.

God's Will

Nevertheless, Dan is summoned back to heaven despite Yeon Seo's best intentions. However, God is sufficiently moved to allow Dan to continue watching over Yeon Seo as an angel (ie invisible to her) instead of turning him to dust. And because Dan chooses to accept this fate rather than continue fighting against God's decision, God heals Yeon Seo and awakens her from the coma.

Just like how Kang Woo accepts God's will and is able to go on living a productive life, Yeon Seo also does what she was meant to do all along - run the ballet company and bless the community through dance.

Herein lies a valuable reminder for us too - that the question is not whether our lives are directed by our free will or predetermined by God. Instead, our focus should be on seeking to know God's will and then submit willingly to His will. For His plans are to prosper us and not to harm us, and His plans give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

So after a period of both of them quietly living out God's purpose for their lives (perhaps it was a test from God after all, to see if they would yield to Him), Dan becomes human again and the lovebirds are reunited.

Similarly, we need to submit to God's will and purpose for our lives, and wait patiently upon the Lord. No matter how bad the circumstances may get, remember that He will make all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

[There is another kdrama series and a recent movie that have also got me thinking about the issue of free will vs predestination. I hope I'll be able to finish writing about them soon... so look out for the entries!]

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