Gods and demigods. Spirits of ancestors. Tribal rituals. These characters are often found in the animated films. And though in real life we know there is only one God, the story lines captivate even us adults.
Spending time with my grandkids has become one of my favorite past times, and unless I have something else already planned, I jump at the chance to babysit my granddaughter who lives just around the corner. To spend time with my grandson takes more planning as he lives in Dallas – six and a half hours away. It might be a long drive, but the reward of time spent building that relationship is worth the drive.
On one of my visits to Dallas, my daughter put on a movie that captivated my grandson. He loves music and this particular film had plenty of musical pieces. And the vibrant colors can be enchanting to the child’s imagination. I admit that I was slightly disinterested at first as I have been watching the path that my beloved animated industry has been taking lately. Yet knowing my daughter’s sensitivity to what she would allow to be in front of her son, I trusted her instinct and settled in for a family movie night with my grandson.
And God showed up! That still small voice was speaking. Even through the fictional gods and demigods, the true God chose to use the story line to speak my language. To meet me right where I was struggling.
There is not really an explanation as to why I was less than interested when the movie started. Perhaps skepticism. Or being tired from the long trip, followed by a busy day. But whatever the reason, each scene started to draw me more into the story. Gods and demigods put aside, the story of Moana, daughter of the village chief, had also captivated me.
(Spoiler alert!) Many years earlier, a demigod, Maui, had stolen the heart of the life-creating goddess, Te Fiti. This destroyed the goddess and created the evil lava monster. And the monster’s evil was growing, spreading across the miles of land and sea, and destroying all that it touched. Death is what followed. But this young woman, daughter of the village chief who had never left her island, did what had been forbidden. She crossed the reef of their island, sailing on the waves of the sea toward the horizon. Her goal was to find Maui and make him return the heart in order to save her dying island.
Then WHAM! The climax of the movie! The confrontation with truth. It was that moment when the Moana starts walking toward the lava monster, Te Ka, as she has discovered where to replace the stolen heart. This act would restore Te Fiti to true goddess status. Each step she takes toward the lava monster, each crescendo of the music that built up the moment, and every word sung, flew its own arrow straight to my heart. And I found myself back to that familiar question, “Who are you?”
Through streams of tears, I played and replayed that last scene. Moana had seen the truth. She saw through the anger and hurt of the lava monster. She saw what had been stolen with the heart. She saw the beauty that was hidden behind the fire which had brought fear to many people through the years. In the midst of the hot, fiery lava was the hidden goddess. Although she almost turned back, no longer believing she had what it took to complete the task, something kept drawing her to continue on. Alone.
Back on her journey, she finally makes it to the destination. And knows it is time to face what had been feared. Te Fiti, bound by the evil known as Te Ka, sees the heart and longs to be restored to herself. The would be goddess lurches toward her freedom. As the Moana steps closer, her words echo, “I have crossed the horizon to find you. I know your name. They have stolen the heart from inside you. But this does not define you. You know who you are. Who you REALLY are.” (Time to bring out the tissues!)
It is an age-old question. Yet many still do not realize it’s deeper meaning. Who are you? Really?
Not: What is your name?
Not: What do you do for a living?
Not: Who is your family?
Instead – WHO ARE YOU?
Years ago, while pastoring in Missouri, God led my husband to talk about breaking the patterns in our lives that were shown to us by others. We are creatures of habits. So often we set our table the same way grandma did because, you never know, “she just might be watching from heaven.” He explained how we often discipline our kids the way our parents disciplines us. The way we talk, our mannerisms, often are actions we have learned through what was mirrored to us as children. Old patterns passed from one generation to the next. Yet those patterns many times often represented human opinions of how things should be handled instead of God’s true nature. For about three weeks, you could almost hear a pin drop among our small congregation. The words were hitting deep inside many of those listening as they realized the old patterns had brought much hurt that needed healing. Others realized the damage they had done to their own kids because they had followed unhealthy patterns.
At the same time our church was walking through this teaching, our women were scheduled to attend a conference. When we arrived that first night, you could still sense where some of the women were in their processing of the things they were learning. We entered into worship and I watched as different individuals ministered to each other. Then came the first speaker. She was giving her testimony. And, like He always does, God showed that He had planned the timing of this event. The speaker shared how she had fought depression and went to see a Christian counselor. And he asked, “Who are you?” And she proceeded to share of her journey to wholeness and finding out who she really was in Christ. Who she was created to be. Her gifts. Her calling.
After that weekend, I realized it was time to start a Bible study with these ladies and help them on their journey of finding out who they truly were… at the very core of their being.
Looking back, I take such joy in seeing the fruit that was a result of our small group of ladies. None of us have reached the status of perfection, but each of have grown so much along the journey.
Since a child, I have always known who I was in Christ. Yet often I did not recognize that even in my knowing, I still did not have the full picture of how He wanted to use my giftings. In the last 10 years, I have watched as one by one my dreams have been shattered. My trust has been betrayed. My heart broken. And, yes, I have had those times of questioning if what I believed was all just my imagination or actually God’s plan from the beginning. In the midst of the hurt and disappointment, I lost me. I lost that confidence of who I was. Now began my journey once again to find healing of my wounds. And to find me in the midst of a confusing time.
In the midst of my journey, He has stripped away my thoughts of what my calling should ‘look like.’ I am a pastor. I am a teacher. I am a minister. But above all, I AM A DAUGHTER OF THE MOST HIGH GOD!!
As a pastor, we picture a building full of people. But honestly, a pastor is one who continually looks after the care of others. I can do that through email or text or social media. I can do that over coffee. Or lemonade. I can do that through the phone on a weekly call. Because who I am is not tied to a building or a denomination or a group of people. It is tied to My Heavenly Father. It is tied to The King! My confidence is in knowing I am His. People, circumstances, or positions do not define me. Only Christ has that right in my life.
What about you? Do you know who you are? Or have you lost you? As the Rita Springer worship song says, “When I thought I lost me, You knew where I left me, You reintroduced me to Your love. You picked up all my pieces, put me back together, You are the defender of my heart.”
He has my heart. He is my Defender. He is my lover. He is ABBA! Father God! And me?
I am a victorious daughter of the most High King! I am a Priest in His Kingdom! And I win!!
I found me again……..in the midst of the mess……..He held my heart in His hands…..and held me in His arms.
And He has you……….Go! Find you again! He will replace your heart and restore your dreams.