It’s likely most people have seen Disney’s blockbuster movie The Lion King at least once. If you have young children or grandchildren, you’ve probably watched the movie more times than you care to remember. The Lion King is ageless; it boasts an engaging storyline, stunning visuals, and an inspiring soundtrack. While the movie’s target audience is children, there are many adult themes sprinkled throughout: envy, deceit, murder, despair, and redemption. While this story is fiction, great truths can be found in fiction – even in a movie made for children.
One of the most poignant scenes in the movie happens when Rafiki discovers that Simba is alive; this revelation comes via the wind (Hebrew ruach: breath, wind, or spirit). Rafiki begins a search for Simba and finds him living in a “far country.” After some verbal wrangling, Rafiki tells Simba that his father, Mufasa, is alive. He provides proof by inviting Simba to gaze into a pool of water. At first Simba sees only his reflection, but Rafiki encourages him to, “look harder.” As Simba continues to gaze, his father’s face appears. Rafiki tells Simba, “You see? He lives in you!” A few moments later Mufasa’s spirit appears in the clouds and says, in part, “Remember who you are. You are more than what you have become.” Simba comes to realize that his efforts to hide and deny who he was born to be were shortsighted.While Simba doesn’t know what the future will hold, he knows he must go home in order to fulfill his purpose.
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”*
Humanity’s story begins in a lush garden when God breathed into us the breath of possibility. It is God’s breath that separates us from the rest of creation and calls us to become greater than our point of origin – dust. Consider: in all creation, only humanity has the breath of God in its nostrils. His breath makes possible our transcendence from terrestrial to our true home – among the celestial. Even after the fall of humanity God has never ceased bidding us to remember and return.
In life there are situations that can cause us to run in the opposite direction of where we were intended to be – much like Simba. There are forces that constantly seek to define who we are and what we become. These forces reassure us that a worry-free, responsibility-free existence is possible if we are willing to forget who we are and Whose we are. In quiet moments of reflection when we allow ourselves to gaze into the pool of remembrance, we know without a shadow of a doubt that His Spirit lives in us, and we know we can never run far enough or fast enough to get away from our God-breathed selves.
Becoming is a lifelong, ongoing process. From the day we draw our first breath until the day we breathe our last, we are always becoming more or less like our Creator. It is easy to pretend that we don’t know who we are or to allow others to define us. But God is relentless in His quest to reclaim you and me; He will send someone or something to remind us when we are not living in accordance with our intended purpose. As He did in Eden, God continues to ask, “Where are you?”
How we choose to spend our time matters. We matter, and other people matter. God breathed the breath of possibility into us in order to serve Him and to empower others to become who they were created to be; this is our life’s work.
At the appointed time, the Lion of Judah will return as He departed – on the clouds. Each of us will stand before Him to give an account of the breath He invested in us. On that day, our purpose fulfilled, our work completed, it is then that we will become our intended selves.
*Genesis 2:7 NIV