Posted by: Michelle Knoll | October 6, 2012

Thirty-One Days of Hearing His Voice {Day 6} – In Movies

God speaks to me through movies.  A lot.  Sometimes very strongly.  And sometimes, it’s not while I’m watching the movie, but long afterward.

If you don’t have kids, you might not have watched the latest Madagascar movie, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. And you may not have any interest in animated movies at all.  But for those of you who like this type of movie, but you haven’t watched this one yet, let me just say:  spoiler warning!

The movie begins with the four famous characters from the first two movies trying to find a way back to New York.  And they team up with the penguins of fame, Private, Rico, Kowalski, and Skipper, plus the two monkeys, Phil and Mason, to figure out a way back to the states.  But they run into a circus train along the way, and their lives are permanently changed.

Why?  Not because the circus animals teach them some amazing wisdom and insight, but because by helping the circus animals, they learn some things about themselves.

Well, the message isn’t from what happens to our four furry friends from Madagascar.  It’s what happens to the circus animals.  But first, let’s talk about circus animals.

Circus animals live at the mercy of their trainers.  They do whatever their trainers tell them to do, and when they don’t, they get disciplined.  I’ve never been a part of a circus, but I have an idea it’s a pretty rough life, for the animals as well as the humans.  Circus animals perform according to the wills of their trainers.  They act in line with the type of performance that’s expected of them.  They can do other things, but they just don’t.

What else could the animals do?  Well, they’re wild animals, most of them, so they could do all sorts of things, including kill their trainers.  So the whole scenario of a circus is the idea of one group of beings controlling another group of beings.  And the beings that are being controlled are totally out of their natural element.

I’m not against circuses, okay?  I like the whole idea of training an animal to do special stunts, as long as the animal is treated well.  And even though circus life is a hard life, the mere fact that the animals don’t attack their trainers all the time gives indication that they’re being treated well.  Wild animals don’t have much patience, you know?  Especially with people who are mistreating them.

But let’s get back to the message in this movie.  At one point, the monkeys with our Madagascar friends actually buy the circus from the humans.  So the circus animals are now on their own.  And during their next performance, they are a total bomb.  They can’t do anything!  They don’t know how.  They’ve lived in this unnatural setting for so long under the direction of their human trainers, that when the humans leave, the animals are totally lost.

They were placed into a “box” and expected to live according to the limits of that “box,” and once the “box” wasn’t there any more, they didn’t know what to do.

Until the four Madagascar friends, Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria, showed them new ways to live.  Ways to live that resonated with their hearts.

At first the circus animals were scared, because this was all so new to them.  And one animal in particular wanted no part of this “new way to live.”  He had always done the same thing – lived in the same “box” – and he didn’t want to change.  Well, change is scary, amen?  None of us want to change, most of the time.  It is said that change won’t happen unless the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the uncertainty of the change being faced.  In the end, however, this one animal also agreed to the change, and rediscovered his heart as well.

But this all made me wonder: how many of us allow others to put us in boxes?  Boxes of thinking, boxes of behavior, boxes of expectation?  We allow others to build boxes which define who we are, and we live in those boxes, and we think that’s all there is.  And we aren’t all that happy, but we force ourselves to be happy, because… that’s… all there is.  Right?

But when the people leave, the ones that built the boxes, and we are left to fend for ourselves, we suddenly realize we were relying on their perceptions of us, their beliefs about us, their comments toward us, to direct and command our existence.  And without the expectations, the beliefs and the comments, we are lost.  That is, until someone comes along that can show us there is more to life than what we’ve been experiencing.

When I say “box,” I’m not talking about good things you’ve been taught by your parents or teachers or people at church.  I’m talking about attitudes and ideas like “you’ll never be more than _______,” or “you can’t do anything right!” or “you are JUST LIKE your mom (or dad or sister or brother or whoever),” or “why are you always messing stuff up?” or “I’ll never understand you!” or… stuff like that.  See what I’m saying?

By the way, there’s another word for “box.”  It’s “coffin.”

Let me tell you something:  God never designed you to live in a box created by others.  He designed you to live freely in His Presence, according to what He says about you, not what others say about you.

Dwell on that for a few minutes.  Just let it sink in.

Can you see any boxes you’ve been dwelling in?  Do you want out?  Ask God to help you see yourself the way He sees you.  He’ll blow open the box and get you out of there, and show you what you’ve been created to be: someone special, someone wonderful, someone who has captured His heart, and someone He loves without measure.


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