Have you seen The Lion King? Stupid question, I am sure you have seen it! Whether it’s the old version, the musical or the new and updated movie. I’ve seen all of them. The old movie about a gazillion times (every time I used to go over to my best friends house her mum would make chicken goujons or spaghetti carbonara and we’d watch The Lion King, EVERY TIME!), the musical production once and the new one already twice (in two weeks!). I think you can probably guess that I’m a bit of a fan!
The new version is absolutely wonderful! It’s almost everything I had hoped it would be and I am sure this will be a true classic for the next generation who maybe didn’t catch the first Lion King (one down side to not being born in the 80s!). However, I did sadly say “almost” everything I had hoped it would be because unfortunately for me there was one down side, which was the script change. I appreciate that it couldn’t remain exactly the same as the original in order that it become a new film in its own right, yet whilst many lines were the same, it felt, to me, like the best ones were the ones that were dropped. That dry humour of Scar’s that is so obvious from the get go when Simba pays him a visit after the dedication ceremony, was totally lost (to me!). Maybe they were going for a darker approach, but for someone who was quietly muttering almost every line from the script under her breath it was a shock! As was Simba’s first meeting with Timon and Pumba. Don’t get me wrong, it was funny, but I couldn’t but help missing some of those lines-they were absolute belters!
But I think where I was truly sad was when old Rafiki comes to find Simba. I was almost on the edge of my seat waiting for THE line (loser I know), and I honestly hadn’t ever contemplated how important this one line was to me but as the scene progressed without me hearing it my heart utterly sank. What line am I going on about? Don’t you know? Didn’t you wait for it with bated breath too??
“Sure do. You’re Mufasa’s boy!”
How many times I have seen this film, how many times I have sung the songs, repeated the lines and laughed at the jokes yet I had no idea which was the bit that I loved the most until it was gone.
Why I wondered? It kept coming to me. I’m making myself sound like a real Disney junkie now aren’t I??! But I just couldn’t shake it from my mind. The new line they used (which has not stuck with me at all despite seeing it twice in quick succession) just didn’t pack a punch. Honestly, it just kind of fell out of Rafiki’s mouth, the meaning changed, the power gone. Thankfully for me (and hopefully for you too if you read to the end), God in all His wisdom and gentleness gave me an answer about a week later.
I have recently started a prayer journal. I have done this in the past but this time I decided to do it to give me the space and time to “be still” and hear from God. After I write; sometimes prayers, sometimes verses or worship songs that are on my mind, sometimes just me splurging on the page to God, I wait and try and listen in the silence. One of the ways God has spoken to me many times over the years is through pictures. Sometimes they are for me and sometimes they are for others, but they are always a message for encouragement. One day, soon after I started journalling, I started a very loooong prayer to God about the direction my life is going in. About what He would like me to do and how I can please Him. One part of my journey for freedom over the last few years has been about gaining confidence in myself. For various reasons I worry about how others see me, I worry if I might have offended someone or if people even like me sometimes. In the last few years I have got much better in this regard and I don’t doubt myself in the way I used to, yet sometimes still I am not in a place yet where I truly believe God can love me SO MUCH that He has a a purpose for me or that He might want to use me, yet it is my greatest desire. Now this day God did not give me an answer to where my life is going. God is not a fortune teller or a genie in a bottle but He did show me something and He did it in a way that He knew would hit home.
I saw pictures of the Lion King in my mind as I sat there in the quiet. “Errr, what?” my brain said. You have to be discerning in moments like these and I wasn’t sure if I was hearing from God or if my love of The Lion King might actually be turning into an obsession! So I cleared my mind and started again and sure enough these images popped back into my mind again, all scenes of Simba and Mufasa together. I saw Mufasa pull Simba in to him as they speak after the elephant graveyard incident. The scene ends with Mufasa grabbing Simba and pulling Him in for a cuddle and a play.
I saw Simba calling out to Mufasa to save him in the gorge and then later Simba curling up next to Mufasa when he finds him dead. It’s a cartoon but it pulls on some real heart strings. Finally my mind settled on the line that kept whirling around in my mind, “Sure do, you’re Mufasa’s boy!”. After Rafiki says this to he takes Simba to show him Mufasa, he says he is still alive. In total disbelief Simba follows Rafiki to the waters edge. When he looks down, hoping to find his long lost father, he instead just sees his reflection but Rafiki won’t allow him to turn away. “Look closer. You see? He lives in you”. This time when he turns to look he sees the face of his father staring back at him. His reflection is no longer that of his own face but that of his fathers. The man who he has longed for. The man who protected him and who gave his life for him. This great man, with the booming voice of James Earl Jones, who has so much wisdom and strength paralleled only by his great love, is his one true father, living in him.
In what seemed like an hour yet at the same time just a second, I felt that God was saying that my true identity lies in Him. I already know this to be true, I’ve known God a pretty long time, but to actually look in the mirror and see His face rather than my own was powerful. How often do I look in the mirror and pore over the imperfections, the things I want to improve, the things that make me feel sad?
But that isn’t how God sees me, or you, and it’s not how He wants us to see ourselves. It was so liberating to know that the only thing I need to worry about seeing when looking in the mirror is seeing Jesus’ face looking back at me. How can anything else matter if thats the truth you choose to accept? Jesus, my one true father, the one who I long for, the one who protects me and the one who gave His life for me. But these Lion King pictures I had were not just for me, but for all of us and if I get a picture for someone else then I share it with them, so here I am, sharing it with you. Telling you that your identity and your freedom lies in Jesus Christ. He will speak the truth to you, yet he will also ruffle your hair and pull you in for a play and cuddle. He will explain what the stars in the sky mean and He will protect everything that the light touches and because He is so totally awesome He will step into the darkness and He will jump in front of any number of hyenas to save you from their clutches. And the one who will show you the way to Him is the Holy Spirit. I don’t have an image in my mind of what the Holy Spirit looks like but if thinking on Old Rafiki helps you then I think that works! And if you are wondering where He (Jesus) has been all this time, then the answer is, He’s always been there, the whole time. Maybe you just haven’t had the chance to look in the mirror and see Him. Maybe like Simba you ran from Him, but it doesn’t matter how far you run, or what new place you make home, He will always find you and He will always want to be found by you.
This knowledge however doesn’t just change the way I see myself, although Lord knows I need to. It changed how I look at others too. We all either have Jesus living in us or have the right to have Him living in us. This means that no matter who you are, what you’ve done, what life has done to you, when I see you I should be seeing Jesus. Can I honestly say that is how I have been living life so far? The girl who is fighting the human rights race, to see chains broken and people set free. Is she seeing Jesus, His presence and His desired presence, in every person I meet? Sadly not. But I want to and I know He wants me to. He wants us all to. I come back to two quotes again and again:
If we start viewing ourselves differently, if we start viewing the people we meet each day differently, then big things will change.
Jesus Christ is my freedom. He is your freedom. He is our freedom. He is not dead, He is alive. Rafiki will tell you so!
Simba: Hey! You knew my father?
Rafiki: Correction, I know your father.
So now I know why subconsciously I had clung on so hard to Old Rafiki’s line to Simba. In five words He tells Simba just who He is and in five words I can tell you exactly who I am and who you are too. Maybe you don’t know who you are, maybe you feel like others don’t know who you are either but let me tell you now,
“Sure do. You’re Jesus’ boy”
“Sure do. You’re Jesus’ girl”