Yesterday I did a dad thing. I gathered up two of my children and headed off to the latest Disney movie. As usual it was captivating story telling but again, it wasn't so much the story as the underlying lesson that was being taught. Disney is wonderful at telling people that they can do whatever they put their mind to and that they are captains of their own destiny. This entire movie was about changing your destiny, taking command of your life and never letting anyone tell you what to do. I found it ironic considering yesterday's blog topic.
Disney is all about breaking with tradition and putting the individual ahead of the common good. I guess that is part of the American dream from where individualism has risen. The movie seemed like it was going to teach what a disaster a selfish attitude can cause, the hurt and pain that it can inflict on others, but in the end captaining your own destiny won out.
I won't deny that God has given us the freedom to choose our own destiny. He has given us the freedom to make whatever choices we want. We can go against his will, his wisdom, and his direction. We have the freedom to live in rebellion if we want, striking out on our own, living the life of the "prodigal son". We can put our wants and desires ahead of God's greater desire for us and we can damage as many people as we want along the way. Even as I type this I hear the words of apostle Paul, "Everything is permissible, but is it beneficial"?
As I watched the actions of this new Disney princess, who undoubtedly will be considered the role model for the modern girl, I couldn't help but think of another princess who made a much different decision when she was young. The king of England had made a decision himself, a decision to abandon his responsibility to his country and selfishly put his heart ahead of his duty. For a country that prided itself on its tradition of putting duty first, this came as a shock. The crown was passed to his brother who died and then to a young princess, who was deeply affected by her uncle's abandonment of duty. She vowed that as long as she was able she would serve her country, putting it first in her life. They are now celebrating her jubilee; 60 years of unwavering service to her country, and they love her for it.
What provokes such a sense of duty and responsibility? Why not ask a soldier, who lays down his life in defence of his country. Ask a police officer who gives his best to protect his community. Ask a fireman who runs into burning buildings to save lives. Ask a politician who willingly becomes a public target. Ask a doctor and a teacher. Ask a mom and a dad. Those who rise up to their responsibility and stand by their duty do so out of love.
We have the freedom to be the captains of our own destiny, to do and become whatever we want, but out of love we set aside what we want and submit ourselves to what God wants. It's a choice we make, to trust God, and to desire to bring him glory, out of love. It's not always easy to do because the world tells us that we have a right to choose our own destiny but love tells us to surrender our freedom and walk with God.
There was a moment in the movie when I thought it was going to be Disney's most brilliant moment. The princess realized what damage she had done to those she loved because of her selfishness. She realized the importance of relationships and the responsibility she had to set aside her selfish pursuits to fulfil her responsibility to her people. It was brilliant and moving but then it all fell apart when the parent caved in and went with today's modern thought, throwing duty and responsibility aside for the sake of individualism. The message was clear to everyone sitting in that movie theatre, including the children: We can change our destiny.
Yes, we can change it, but just as Paul asked, is it beneficial? Jesus said that if we loved him we would do what he has commanded. Those are hard words for people to swallow walking out of the theatre after having watched a young princess captain her own destiny, but it is the truth of the matter. God does not want duty and obedience simply because he has commanded it. These things must come from a heart of love or the sacrifice is completely worthless. We give ourselves to God's will with the same motivation as the Queen of England has for wearing her crown. It is the selfless act of love that says others are more important than our desires. It is what good parents do every day. Jesus is far more important than what I want for myself, so I allow him to be the captain of my destiny. It is a question of love.