The Gospel as seen through Moana

Let me speak honestly. I love Jesus very much. I love Disney very much. My friend Julianna said of me tonight, “Jeanette wishes she was a Disney princess.” Yes, that’s very true. Working for Disney as a princess is my absolute dream job. My house is full of Disney movies and songs, as well as a lot of Jesus.

Moana came out last Christmas, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorite movies. I say all the time that I think Moana’s story line is the closest Disney will come to presenting the gospel. I know what you are thinking, “Come on, Jeanette. Moana! The Gospel?” Ok, friend, let me explain.

First, please know that this is all my own interpretation. This is just how I see it. I know that it can be stretching and silly, BUT I do believe that The Lord speaks to us in many different ways and that if we look we can find Jesus almost everywhere. Now with that said…The gospel as seen or heard from Moana.

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Moana is chosen by the ocean at a very young age to return the heart of Te Fiti. She’s just a child at this point, so she doesn’t understand but she is constantly drawn to the ocean. We are each chosen by God for something in this world. We can call it our calling or our passion. Whatever it is, we are chosen and it draws us. (1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.)

Her grandmother tells her (in the middle of a song OBVIOUSLY) that she is her father’s daughter. He is stubborn and she needs to obey him BUT if she hears the voice inside her calling her to follow the farthest star, that voice inside is “who you are”. Ok let me break this one down…We are supposed to obey our fathers, the bible tells us to but there are times when maybe our dads are telling us something that goes against the voice inside. What is that voice inside? That nudging, I think, is the Holy Spirit urging you to follow the calling God has set upon your life.

You are your father’s daughter

Stubbornness and pride

Mind what he says but remember

You may hear a voice inside

And if the voice starts to whisper

To follow the farthest star

Moana, that voice inside is who you are

So Moana does a super brave thing: she leaves her home, her family, and takes a huge leap of faith. She repeats over and over who she is and what her purpose is, “I am Moana of Montunui….restore the heart of Te Fiti”. I think many times along the way we forget who are or what we are supposed to be doing. Life is messy and busy, and it can be easy to forget. We need to remember: I was chosen, I am a child of God, I have a purpose, I have a calling on my life. (Isaiah 41:9-10 I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. 10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.)

Meanwhile the journey gets hard. She fails and she gets really upset. Yelling at the ocean,Moana asks, “Why me?! Why choose me?” Have you ever felt that way? Asked why is this your passion, your calling? It’s too hard. It takes too much work. You’re failing, tired, and lost. Why!!!! In that moment, she gives up and throws the heart of Te Fiti into the ocean. When this happens to us, God knows. He sees and watches. Sometimes I think He’s going to say, “Calm down. I know what I’m doing. I know why I chose you.” But other times I think He looks and says, “Ok, I’ll let the next person do this, and they will and they will get what should’ve been yours.” I don’t think God is being sassy but I do believe that if we don’t do what we are supposed to do, then someone else will.

In this moment, Moana’s grandmother comes to her (in spirit form…it’s a Disney movie, give me a break) and reminds her of who she is: a girl that loves her island, a girl that has made her family and her people proud. She then sings….

Sometimes the world seems against you

The journey may leave a scar

But scars can heal and reveal just

Where you are

The people you love will change you

The things you have learned will guide you

And nothing on earth can silence

The quiet voice still inside you

And when that voice starts to whisper

Moana, you’ve come so far

Moana, listen

Do you know who you are?

Moana is again reminded of who she is and what her calling is. How often do we need that kind of reminder? Do we have people in our lives who can and will remind us when we’ve forgotten who we are? Sometimes in life, we pick up baggage and scars but those things remind us of where we’ve been, how we’ve grown, and where we are today. But they don’t force us to give up our identity or our calling, not if we don’t allow them to. Moana doesn’t allow this hurt to sidetrack her. She dives in and pushes forward. ( 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair;  9 we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.)

In the end, Moana takes the heart of Te Fiti and while returning it to where it belongs, she beautifully sings:

I have crossed the horizon to find you

I know your name

They have stolen the heart from inside you

But this does not define you

This is not who you are

You know who you are

This is my favorite part because… God has done more than cross the ocean for us. He literally sent His son to die for us on a cross. He Knows Your Name. Somewhere along the way maybe someone took something from you, or hurt you, or you forgot who you are but that does NOT define you. That is not who you are. Do you know who you are?! You are a chosen child of God. The God of the Universe created you. He knows your name.

(Isaiah 43:1-4 (message translation) But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you:all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.)

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