Well, today was the day that I delivered the message at Carmel United Methodist Church. I was asked about a month ago to be part of a series of sermons on Walt Disney and the Bible. Since then, our family has had several great conversations about various movies that we all have heard about from that famed filmaker, and I finally settled on Toy Story being the topic of my message today. Last week, I spent quite a few hours putting different historical information on Disney together with film clips and toy props that our grandkids have.
It’s been a while since I have been asked to speak in a church, and I had forgotten how much I really do like it. It’s always a privilege to bring people the word of God. I know that I have a Bible study and I write this blog five days a week, but it’s a little different when you are in front of an audience and you get feedback from the congregation as you are delivering your message.
Anyway, I learned quite a bit about Disney. He was raised in a Congregationalist Church and married his wife Lillian in an Episcopalian Church. Unfortunately, as he progressed throughout his life, he apparently gave no outward indication that he was religious. In fact, of all the things you can find at Disney theme parks, there has never been a church, although spires are visible near each location. Disney believed that living a good life – a model of behavior – was what people need to see, but he never pushed his convictions on anyone when it came to religion. And while none of his movies were overtly made to point people to Christ, it is evident that there are many biblical themes that run through his films.
Toy Story, made in 1995, was the first joint venture between Disney and Pixar Studios, the effort led by Steve Jobs, who was the executive producer on the project. The more I studied the movie, the more I realized that it was similar to the story of God in our lives. Frankly, space does not permit me to give you a full synopsis of the movie, but the short version is that Andy loves his toys, then loses several of his favorites, Woody and Buzz, when they fall out the window and are apparently lost. They fall into the clutches of the evil neighbor boy, Sid, who plays to destroy them. Ultimately, though, the toys are reunited with Woody as he and his parents are en route to their new home.
Granted, it takes just a little imagination, but there are huge parallels to our lives. God created the Garden of Eden for us, much like Andy organized his room for his special toys. And then, Man suffered separation from God as a result of the Fall in the Garden of Eden. In the movie, the fall was a literal fall, when Buzz fell out the window of Andy’s bedroom.
Andy never stopped pursuing Woody and Buzz, just like God keeps looking for us. In fact, you may recall the parable that Jesus told about the man who had one of his sheep wander off. He left the ninety nine in search of the one and rejoiced when all the sheep were re-united as the lost one was found. Isn’t that how it is with our lives as well? God’s desire is to be with us, and us with Him. When we are momentarily lost, doesn’t God pursue us to get us back? Of course He does.
Finally, in the movie, the toys are reunited with Andy as the family is headed to their new home. Once again, can you see the parallel? We will be totally reunited with God when we head to heaven. In fact, God will rejoice when we arrive. We are told in Revelation that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and that everything will be made new. Although there may well be elements of our new destination that may be somewhat familiar to us, there are bound to be many things that will be better than we can possibly imagine. But the best thing is that God will be there and we will live eternally with Him.
Tonight’s verse is from Rev. 21, the second to the last chapter in the Bible. We all know the beginning verses, for we have learned them from the time we were small children. You know, “In the beginning, God….” But most of us don’t know how the story ends. So here is what John tells in Rev. 21:6, “He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.” There you have it – eternal life, without cost. In other words, it is a gift – from God to us.
My encouragement this evening is that you will believe that God loves you more than you can possibly imagine. In fact, He sacrificed His Son for us, so that we have a way to find our way back to Him. After all, it’s not Toy Story, it’s God Story. My prayer is that you will never thirst again and that you will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever. Amen….. Grace and peace…