Reality, and the movies in our heads
The False Hope of Disney-Endings
I grew up watching Disney movies, like any other kid. And these movies are fantastic, and magical, and teach important lessons. Usually, there’s some colorful world that’s almost edenic, involving princesses or talking warthogs, and everything is perfect. And then, because stories have to have conflict, some terrible, evil, vicious thing happens that threatens everything until the hero arrives, or the prince shows up, and saves the day.
Everything about these types of kids movies excited me, and for so long I thought they were the script of life. I was under the impression that life was that way for everyone. I had a magical childhood watching these movies, riding bikes around town, having giant chalk-wars in the cul-de-sac, and filming every stupid thing my friends and I did. I was waiting for the super-evil guy to come along so I could squash him, save the girl, and live happily ever after in a grand mansion or beach house with a helicopter or dragon, and be rich, famous, spiritual, and fulfilled forever. Or something along those lines. However it played out, I thought my life would be heroic and grand, that it would be impactful, dangerous, and exciting, like something you’d see in one of those movies.
The only thing was that life isn’t at all like a disney movie. There was no inciting incident of some external villain threatening the good standing of all that was my little garden of eden, and I didn’t overcome some anti-hero, cosmic force of torment that oppressed me.
This life isn’t that type of story. It’s sometimes less dramatic, less interesting, less colorful, less imaginative, and less gleeful. But it’s always infinitely more important, because it’s real. These days we all live are more important than any sitcom, drama, movie, book, play, or short story. These days we live are all a part of something bigger. They may not seem like much, especially compared to the fantastic, absurd, comical, dramatic stories we watch on tv or in the theaters. But, I believe this is all headed somewhere fantastic. Maybe we crave those stories of some hero coming in the wake of calamity because we recognize that our world is that world in calamity, and it needs that hero. And maybe our world is like those stories in some way, but maybe it’s not as direct as we’d think. I don’t think we are the heroes we’re looking for. I think someone else is, someone much bigger.
I believe each and every one of our stories is wrapped up in some divine plan to renew and restore this broken world. God isn’t finished. The whole story of the Bible is a dramatic, fantastic, absurd story of a God who relentlessly pursued His people, His creations, and stopped at nothing to renew us. It’s a story of how the God of everything, the merciful, humble, self-giving, all-loving, divine community of the Trinity stopped at nothing to fix this mess we’ve made of our world.
And it was finished on that cross.
But it’s just getting started in our lives. Every day millions of people wake up, hoping that this day will be their grand entry into a reality hoped for. And daily, there are those who have awakened to a new reality. The reality of Jesus’ resurrection brings hope of a restored creation and mended relationship with God into the present. We see glimpses of this restoration, and we find hope in everything, from the big to the small, rejoicing and being thankful in our hearts, glorifying God in all we do.
Our lives aren’t disney movies, they’re more than that. Each conversation, cup of coffee, business sale, and church prayer meeting is happening in the shadow of a much bigger reality. It’s in the overcast of a new way, a new kingdom that is coming up over the horizon. It’s the way that sings the song of our hearts, the melody we’ve been searching for our whole lives. This is the way forward. Wake up, sleeper, wake up and smell the coffee.
And it’s coming.
And it’s already here.
My prayer is that you and I can find this real hope, a hope that’s sustainable and practical in this sometimes-mundane world we live in. A hope that brings the imminent future of God’s kingdom and God’s way of doing things into the present. A hope that fills the soul with joy, and brings healing, restoration, joy, and thanksgiving into even the most somber, tragic, or mundane moments of this ‘ordinary life’ lived in the shadow of the rising sun that is God’s vision for the future.
Image edited under Creative Commons License Original by:Justin Brown