Remember…Whose You Are
So, I have a very small confession to make. I love Disney cartoons. I have always adored how a cartoon could magically transport me to a land where ANYTHING was possible; where good ALWAYS won over evil; animals could talk; and in the end the girl and the boy fell in love and lived happily ever after. I can still remember waiting all week to get to watch the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday night TV. It truly was a magical time in my childhood. A time where we got to have popcorn and pop in the living room (which was a very SPECIAL treat) and watch cartoons at night. I lived for Sunday nights because I was so in love with everything Disney.
So, you can imagine my excitement when Disney started coming out with these new computer animated films right before my first son was born… I was absolutely thrilled because I knew I was going to be able to experience them for the first time with my children. Consequently, even though we didn’t have a lot of money when the boys were little…anytime a Disney cartoon was released to VHS tape, I saved up money and went and bought it. This became our tradition because there is nothing better than watching your children engage in something that sets their imaginations on fire. My oldest son had many favorite cartoons, but the one that really won his heart was Lion King. I am going to sound like the worst mom in the world here…but he loved it so much that he literally burned through 3 VHS tapes. No, I did not just sit him in front of the TV all of the time! But…we did do a lot of snuggle time watching Lion King and it still holds a very special place in my heart.
So when Disney decided to start remaking their cartoons in a more “real” format with computer animation, of course I was intrigued. Now, understand this….I HATE remakes. I believe the original should always stay the way it was for the sake of history. Ya’ know, don’t change a good thing and all that jazz. But, come on, this was Disney. I knew I HAD to see the remake of the Lion King at least! Mind you, I had not gone to any of the other remake cartoons that Disney had put out. But, something kept compelling me to go to Lion King. I figured it was because of my complete infatuation with this cartoon….but I was soon to find out that there was another reason.
I ended up going to see the remake with my 2 daughter-in-laws and thought it was good, but in actuality was a little unimpressed. It was so much like the original cartoon (in fact I believe that was the goal) except for the fact that the animals looked more real which created a few very “scary” scenes that I don’t think small children would have done well with. I just felt a little let down as I expected it to be way more exciting. Except….there was something stirring in me as I watched and I had no idea what it was until the next day.
I woke up early as usual the next morning and while doing my devotionals, I was forced to stop because scenes from the Lion King kept coming back into my memory and Holy Spirit started showing me that so much of that cartoon movie was speaking to people about the Holy Trinity. When I watched the original cartoon with my oldest son, I was able to feel the childlike wonder of experiencing it with him and seeing his youthful excitement. And as Holy Spirit started bringing scenes from the cartoon into my mind, I truly felt that God wanted me to see this 25 year old cartoon as if it was my very first time – but this time through my HIS eyes!
I have always known that God uses ordinary things to speak HIS truth into people’s lives… but I have to admit, this one really blew me away! I realized very quickly that God has been using this cartoon, which most would look at as pure entertainment, to show the story of our Savior. So stick with me as I take you on a whirlwind tour of the Lion King that just may have you looking at this cartoon in a whole new light.
The first of many scenes that flittered through my brain that morning was when Mufasa and baby Simba were surveying the land that was their kingdom and Mufasa makes a statement about how a king’s responsibility is to serve. All I could picture at that moment was Jesus washing the disciples feet in John 13. In fact Jesus actually said these words in John 13:13-17 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” Jesus was not just telling them that leaders should serve others, He was showing them by doing one of the worst possible jobs there was in that era. Washing people’s feet was reserved for the very lowest ranked servant in the household. I absolutely loved how Mufasa was making a point to explain this Biblical principle to his son…the heir to the throne.
The worst scene of the movie for me BY FAR is when Mufasa dies (sorry, spoiler alert if you haven’t watched the cartoon). So, the fact that this was the next scene that popped into my mind was a little disheartening as I hate to dwell on the sad part. But this time, the scene didn’t make me sad as Holy Spirit spoke to me about how God wanted me to see it.
A short synopsis of the scene is that Scar (the evil uncle) has hatched a wicked plan and wants to kill Mufasa so he can take over the throne. So he takes baby Simba into a tight canyon and leaves him there to work on his roar, all the while he has the hyenas creating a wildebeest stampede through the canyon leaving Simba in grave danger. Scar runs to Mufasa to tell him that Simba is in trouble, so Mufasa enters the canyon to save his son and is ultimately killed. Pfhewwww!
And that is where Holy Spirit started speaking. He showed me how the King had sacrificed his life to save his son’s. How he had loved his son so much that he was willing to die to save him from his bad decisions, his disobedience…or may I even stretch this to say his sins? This revelation really landed in my heart because that is exactly what Jesus did for us. He loved us so much that He died a vicious and brutal death on the cross so that you and I could live. It was his choice…he could have walked away, but he knew that dying was the only way to save humanity and so in the end he chose us!
Immediately following Mufasa’s death Simba is of course devastated, because he knows he shouldn’t have been in that canyon and if he hadn’t been, his father wouldn’t have died. And that cues the entrance of the evil Scar. He immediately starts to whisper to Simba about how it was his fault. “How could you?” “There is no fixing this.” “What are the other lions going to say?” And he tells him that he better run away and hide. This part of the cartoon has always broke my heart and I find myself wanting to yell out, “He’s just a small boy and he didn’t mean for it to happen. It was an accident!” But that morning I saw it for what it really was and it made me want to punch something. I saw that in our own lives we have a Scar… his name is satan….and he also whispers in our ear. He tells us that we should feel shame and that nobody will understand. He works very hard to make us feel unworthy of the throne, just like Simba did at that moment. And satan wants nothing more than for us to run away from God and go hide. He wants us to turn away from who we are in Christ and believe the lie that we are not worthy to be called children of God. And just like Simba, far too many people run away from their destinies because they have believed the lies being whispered in their ears.
As we continue the storyline, Simba does run away and ends up meeting the colorful duo of Timon and Pumbaa. He is sad and guilt ridden. His heart is broken; he is shattered and all he wants to do is have the pain in his heart go away. These two outcasts explain to him that they have found a great way to live life. In a nutshell it is to look out only for yourself and do whatever makes YOU happy. This really hit me as I truly believe that this is the prevailing thought process of the world right now, and I believe it is because too many people are listening to the lies of the enemy. Our society at this moment is full of folks who have gone through hard things, have tremendous emotional pain, and feel so alone that all they want to do is run away. They listen to satan whisper that nobody cares and that they should feel so ashamed of XYZ that they had better just look out four Numero Uno and forget helping anyone else. They feel they aren’t good enough to help anyways – so they hide out in the darkness. This is an age old tactic of satan, since the beginning of time. And the reason he still uses it is because it still works!
And it works for Simba for quite some time. He is able to grow up and actually feel like he is happy….but when the subject of his father comes up, the audience sees how emotional Simba still is. How the hurt that he has hidden so deep in his heart still comes boiling to the surface at times. He is sad and lonely and that can’t be fixed with a cute, yet catchy phrase like “Hakuna Matata”. Our hurts are no different. We can think that if we hide them deep enough that they will be gone forever, but just like any wound that gets covered up without healing properly, it will fester and keep coming to the surface until it is dealt with and healed.
Dealing with the lies of the devil is something that we all will have to face. But what I have found to be the antidote to the poison that he speaks into us is knowing our identity. That is why the scene were Rafiki finds Simba in the jungle and asks him a very simple question, is probably the coolest series of events in the cartoon. He asks “Who are you?” Simple question, but a very hard question to answer when you are filled with shame and unworthiness. Rafiki tells Simba that his father is not dead and that he will show him where Mufasa is. So Simba runs at breakneck speed to follow the mysterious monkey only to end up at a pond. He looks in the pond and is very disappointed as he only sees his own reflection. But that is where Rafiki says such a profound thing. A thing that God really wanted me to get. And something that I really hope everyone takes hold of.
Rafiki says, “Look Harder.” Then he creates ripples in the pond and as Simba looks again, Rafiki says, “You see, he LIVES in you!” And at that moment Simba doesn’t see his own reflection, he sees only his father’s! Just like you and I should be able to see our Father when we look at our reflection because God is not dead – He Lives in US!
How cool is that! ‘Who am I?’ is probably the number one question asked on this earth. We spend millions of dollars trying to figure out that one question. We read books on identity, we spend countless hours tracking down our ancestral lineage, hoping to understand where we came from in order to determine who we are, and yet it so very simple! We just need to make a decision to follow Jesus to find out who we are! Because when he was killed on the cross, resurrected after the third day and about to ascend into heaven to take his place on the throne, he told his disciples “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – The Spirit of Truth… On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” – John 14:16-17, 20 NIV
We have the Holy Spirit living IN us…Active and Alive! And sometimes we just need to be reminded.
At that point Simba sees his father in the clouds and Mufasa says, “Simba, you have forgotten me. You have forgotten who you are, so forgotten me!” Then he says one of the most pivotal and inspiring lines in the movie “Remember…Remember who you are! You are my son…” And my heart leapt with joy! So many times people forget who they are because they have listened to the lies of the devil. They forget that they are heirs to the King of Kings. They run away from their destiny, the purpose that they were created for because they have forgotten. When we REMEMBER who we are, we harness the power, the courage, the joy, the peace and the love of our Father. And when we do that we are unstoppable.
The end of the movie does not disappoint as Simba returns to take on Scar (aka satan) and the hyenas (aka demons) and I think the most powerful scene unfolds as Scar is on Pride Rock surrounded by the hyenas when Simba appears above him on a rock outcropping. When Scar initially sees Simba he cowers and exclaims “Mufasa?” He was truly seeing the Father in the son! At that moment Holy Spirit dropped this into my thoughts….
When we know who we are and we are operating in His power, satan will cower before us because He sees God IN us!
So there is no need to buy into satan’s lies anymore. He will cower before us if we allow God to shine through us! Our lives will change as we grasp this truth deep in our hearts. When we finally take hold of our true identity as a son/daughter of the One True King we will understand that because Jesus died for us to live, we have Holy Spirit living in us. We will be able to seize the magnitude of the fact that we have GOD living in us, which will allow us to walk in His power and yet always be humble servant leaders who will offer mercy and grace to everyone.
So… if we remember that God lives in us, we will be able to show God through us to everyone around us!
And yes, all of this enlightenment came from a little ole Disney cartoon with the title Lion King. But why should that surprise anyone? Our God is the creator of the universe, the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End. He can use ANYTHING He wants to show us how much He loves us and remind us of not only who we are….but WHOSE we are!
P.S. Has anyone else also caught onto the fact that God is referred to as the Lion of Judah so of course He used a cartoon called the Lion King!!! (Sooooo Good!)