Crosswalk.com

Lessons from The Lion King

Dena Johnson Martin

Roy and I got a surprise date tonight! Unexpectedly, the kids were all gone. I had two free tickets to the movie theater, and so we decided to catch an early movie.

Roy had been wanting to see The Lion King.

I never watched the original. At the time it came out, there was so much negative press in the Christian circles that I kept my kids away. So, tonight was the first time I saw the story from beginning to end.

And I must say, it was a very pleasant surprise.

As I watched the movie, there were several themes present that really touched my heart. I’d like to share a few of those with you.

Mufasa and Simba enjoyed a great father-son relationship. I couldn’t help but smile as father and son romped around in the wild, wrestling and then collapsing in laughter. I couldn’t help but envy the young lion cub as he relished every moment with his dad. It was a beautiful portrait of what that relationship should be.

The death of a parent has a profound impact on any child. I don’t think it matters how old the “child” is. I’ve watched both of my parents lose their parents. Letting go of my Grandpa just days before his 100th birthday was tough. I’ve watched Roy lose his dad. There are days he still struggles with the grief he carries.

And my three children. Losing their dad as young teens has been devastating, even if their relationship was not of the Simba-Mufasa type. They struggle with some of the same feelings Simba carried for years, emotions that almost caused him to miss his destiny.

Scar is the perfect portrait of the mental abuser. I almost cringed as he blamed Mufasa’s death on Simba. My heart broke as he told Simba he was nothing and needed to simply run away, assuming he would run to his death.

Mental abuse scars people, sometimes for life. They carry a heavy burden they were never meant to carry. Even as they wrap themselves in the guilt and shame, their minds play a game on them. They may question the accuser’s words, but because of the mental abuse they may never be able to escape.

As I watched this scene, I kept thinking of the words in Romans 8:1: So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. The accuser—whether a real-life abuser or the enemy himself—wants nothing more than for us to take up the cloak of guilt and shame because those garments are heavy and wear us down.

Timon and Pumba speak words of wisdom and life. While these two characters are not the wisest in the movie, they had one statement that rings true: You can’t change the past but you can change the future. Life happens. It’s hard and painful so many times. It knocks us down.

But we have to learn to get back up. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our response and how we let it impact our future. Were you in an abusive relationship? I’m sorry. I know what it’s like. But what are you going to do with that experience? Are you going to let it define you? Are you going to let it destroy you? Or are you going to allow God to heal you? Are you going to let God use your pain for His glory? Are you going to take what you’ve learned and help others?

Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. It doesn’t just happen and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of soul-searching, a lot of surrender, a lot of falling at the feet of the Savior. But, somewhere along the way, we see Him changing us and giving us a brighter outlook on the future. We see how He is bringing beauty out of our broken lives.

Where evil reigns, expect death and destruction. When Scar sent Simba away and killed Mufasa, he usurped the power and named himself king of the pride. But, like so many of the evil kings in scripture, he led the people away from the beauty that had been theirs under a “godly” ruler. The land was ravaged by the hyenas. The food was killed off. Everything was dead and desolate.

Scripture tells us that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). When we let evil reign in our hearts, we can be assured we will eventually reap what we sow. The flip side of that is also true. When we let Christ have complete control, we get to experience the abundant life He came to give us.

A good friend will risk everything for us. Over and over, the characters in the movie put their lives on the line for Simba. Timon and Pumba allowed themselves to be chased down by hyenas to give Simba and Nala a chance to get back to the pride. Zazu was always looking out for his friends and serving as a distraction to those out to kill him.

Scripture tells us there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend (John 15:13). Simba was surrounded by amazing friends who loved with their whole lives. Do we have friends like that? Are we a friend with that kind of love?

Simba was never able to fulfill his purpose until he embraced his identity as a child of the king. Aw, yes! Simba was the son of the greatest king that ever ruled the pride! As Rafiki said, the king is not dead; he lives inside of you!

Simba was the child of a king. You and I? We are children on the one true King, the King of kings, the ruler of heaven and earth! And we have Him living inside of us! We must embrace our identity as the chosen ones, as His masterpiece created to do great things which He planned for us before time began (Ephesians 2:10). It is only His power at work in us that will allow us to be all He created us to be.

Before Simba goes to take his place as the ruler of the pride, he hears his father’s voice: One thing I am most proud of is having you as my son. Maybe you never heard your earthly father give you that type of blessing, speak those powerful words over you. But today…today… If you will turn your ear to the Father, He wants to whisper those words over your heart. He wants you to hear Him saying, “I am so proud of you! I have such great plans for you! You are my masterpiece, and I have a purpose for you! Let me take your past—all the pain and guilt and shame—and let me clothe you in my love. You are the one thing I am most proud of.”