Nothing is impossible.
“That’s impossible!” you say. “I’ve seen lots of things that were impossible!” We’re very quick to point out when things are impossible. And often, it’s just for things that we haven’t figured out how to deal with YET.
I’ve never seen a Mission Impossible where the good guys lose at the end and say, “Sorry. That was impossible.”
“This Sudoku is impossible! There’s no way there are not four sevens in the top row!”
We decide that it’s impossible to keep kosher, or do our taxes, or survive for the entire length of a movie without taking any phone calls, or, in my 9-year-old daughter’s case, to clean her room. Every day I look in there and I cannot see the floor. I am no longer absolutely certain that she even has a floor, except that she must, because my office is directly under her room, and I have not yet been buried alive. So we ask her to clean it, and she tells us that it’s impossible.
But Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol shows us that nothing is impossible.
Okay, so it’s right in the name. They say the missions are impossible, yet they always manage to accomplish them anyway. Every single time. It’s crazy.
The missions always start the same. The voice on the phone says, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…” And they always accept it. They never say, “Nah, I can’t accept that. It sounds impossible.”
And that’s kind of the point. This is a special organization of the US government -- the Impossible Missions Force -- that does nothing but impossible missions, all day, every day, and then they come home at the end of the day and just collapse.
And the mission in this movie is even more impossible than any of their previous missions, if you can imagine. Toward the beginning, Tom Cruise’s character is briefed on a mission, his phone explodes, and then he informs his team, consisting of Female Lead Character and Shaun of the Dead Actor, what they have to do.
“We’re going to break into the Kremlin,” he says.
So Shaun (of the Dead) bursts out laughing. “Oh,” he says. “I thought you said we’re going to break into the Kremlin!”
So they do. They break into the Kremlin, using a fake moustache (Is there any other kind?) and an iPad app that renders them basically invisible. But then the villain, Cobalt, not only alerts the guards to their presence, but also blows up the entire Kremlin and plants the blame on the IMF.
Understandably, Russia takes this as an act of war (which was Cobalt’s goal – he’s a big fan of nuclear war) and the US government is claiming that Tom Cruise acted on his own. (“Tom Cruise is crazy!” is the official US defense strategy.) The Secretary of Defense tells Tom that and they’re disbanding the entire IMF and arresting the latter’s team. If they choose, they can escape and try to clear their names, but they will have no backup, no safehouses, no intelligence, and no government connections. I actually thought this was the plot of all the Mission Impossible movies, but the Secretary is adamant. “Really this time,” he says. And then he dies, for good measure.
So the team is stuck on foreign soil, and they don’t even have any of the cool gadgets they usually get for missions, except the ones that are necessary to the plot. Even their fake rubber face-making machine is on the fritz. What the heck are you supposed to do without a fake rubber face-making machine? Nevertheless they have to run around, trying to track down Cobalt before he can collect the pieces that he needs to fire Russian nuclear missiles at the US so that the US will consider that an act of war, because apparently blowing up the Kremlin wasn’t enough. I think stage 3 of his plan is doing something to Russia again. It’s kind of like playing foosball with yourself. But we’re not here to poke holes.
Cue the theme song.
But it’s not impossible. In such a situation, all you have to do is dangle off the side of a building, crawl around in a vent, hang on top of a car that’s trying to shake you off, and fight over a metal briefcase. And there. Problem solved.
Okay, so some things are impossible. But it definitely doesn’t help anyone for you to believe that, because you’ll never even try.
And you know what? Our history is full of impossible missions. The Greeks took over our temple, they had a bigger army, and we had nothing but a tiny army with no actual field experience. Haman wanted to kill all the Jews in the world, and he had the king backing him up. It was impossible for the Jews to escape from Egypt, and it was impossible for Batya to reach the mysteriously crying basket halfway across the river. But throughout history, people tried anyway, and they succeeded. How?
God helps those who help themselves. Okay, sometimes he has reasons not to. But if you’re not going to help yourself, and you’re just going to sit back and say, “It’s impossible,” and that’s the route you want to take, then God will sit back there with you and go, “Yeah. It is.”
And just because you don’t see him, that doesn’t mean he’s not helping you. At the end of the movie, the characters are sitting in a city that almost got nuked, and they say, “Look at these people. They have no idea they were even in danger.”
God does things for us all the time. If you’re walking down the street and a piano crashes down two feet away from you, you realize that God saved your life. But if God holds on to the piano until you’re safely on the next block, or if he makes it that whoever was dangling pianos over the sidewalk managed to pull it back in, he still saved your life, right? But you’ll never know. And at the end of the day, you’ll say the same thing as before: “He never helps me.” But why is it God’s responsibility to make sure that you notice that you were saved? Does he seriously need to wait until you’re looking? Some people are never looking.
I’ve never asked my kid to do something that’s impossible, and God never asks us to do something that’s impossible. I’ve cleaned my daughter’s room. It’s not impossible. As an adult, I realize that none of the things I was asked to do as a kid were impossible. But the things I have to do now? All the responsibilities, all the stresses? I don’t know how I do it. But I know that later I’m going to look back and wonder why I thought that this was impossible. And on it goes.
I have never seen a single Mission Impossible movie where the good guys lose at the end, and they go, “Sorry. That was impossible. What did you want us to do?” They manage to accomplish every one, even though they go in saying it’s mission impossible.
There were three movies before this one, and seven seasons of missions in the original TV show. I’m starting to think nothing is really impossible.