This past weekend we finally took our son to see The Good Dinosaur at the discount theater. I know it’s on DVD already but some things (like dinosaurs and animals) just deserve the full experience to him. I have to say the movie surpassed my expectations, and Disney once again siphoned tears out of me that I didn’t even shed at my own wedding (mainly because I want to inappropriately laugh when I’m a bag of nerves). Even more, I was amazed at the life lessons that I, as a nearly middle aged (oh my gosh is that hurts typing it) woman learned from Poppa, Arlo’s (the main character’s) dad. He even had a bit of the James Earl Jones voice which we all know has to be a close resemblance to God’s voice. Bear with me here. I’m actually going somewhere with this and not just doing a movie review.
Young Arlo was desperately trying to make his mark like the rest of his family by doing something big. Poppa told them they all had to earn their marks. And they did – other than Arlo who seemed to be paralyzed by his fears. He wanted so badly to make his mark in the world yet couldn’t shift his focus enough to do so. I think that’s how so many of us are, or at least I am. I desperately want to make my mark – make a difference – but am stuck in the pool of quicksand called fear. Sometimes a little fear – caution – is good. But being paralyzed by it means that we can’t take our focus off of ourselves long enough to move forward. Instead of truly seeking God, we go at it in our own strength and we get stuck. And if we are truly honest with ourselves, a part of us will always seek to make our mark for our own benefit and recognition. We are human and we are selfish by nature. But as Poppa (or God for us) says, “You gotta earn your mark by doing something big for someone bigger than yourself.” In other words, we have to be sold out to God and it has to be all for His glory. This thing called life, and our purpose, is so much bigger than us. Everything we do should point back to Him.
Back to fear. Where does it come from? Well, especially when it comes to doing good and following God, it comes from Satan. He loves nothing more than to see God’s people rendered useless just by simply invoking fear into us. Most of all we fear failure. Which is dumb because if God leads us to it then He is there to guide us through it all the way to the finish line. But I think the fear of failure isn’t about us letting God down if we are truly honest. I think it’s about letting ourselves down and what others may think of us. But if we are ever going to watch the glory of God unfold in our lives and see the true beauty of that, we have to do that without fear.
In the movie, Arlo gets lost and separated from his family. Poppa had told him that as long as he can find the river he would be able to find his way home. Have you ever thought about why Jesus said he was the living water? Water is needed for survival, and without it we will surely perish. Our relationship with Jesus is just like that – without it we will perish. He told us that he is the “living” water, meaning it is active. It never stops flowing. Just like the river in The Good Dinosaur that Arlo had to find and follow, we too have to follow Jesus to ever truly find our way home. He is our only true source and guide to our eternal home.
Just like Arlo, I'm asking myself what is it that is holding me back from making my mark for God? Am I paralyzed by fear? Am I too selfish? Am I truly depending on Him for all my needs?
What about you?
I promise I don’t always think so deeply about movies – especially cartoons – but God really smacked me with some life lessons in this one. He usually does that when we least expect it. We can’t get life get too comfortable – and the chairs at that theater really drive that point home.
P.S. Is it just me or does Spot have an uncanny resemblance to young E?