Excerpted from “Every Man Ministries” by Kenny Luck
Walt Disney’s cast of animated characters is well known ‘ or, dare I say, burned into our childhood and adult psyches. The all-time favorite in our home (as well as Disney’s all-time box-office champion) is The Lion King. By proxy, I have watched this story of Simba, the little lion who would be king, at least a million times. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I caught on to the powerful theme beating at the center of the story. It’s a theme that vividly illustrates my spiritual journey and battles, and perhaps yours as well.
Simba, born the son of a lion king named Mufasa, revels in his identity and the future possibilities of royalty. As the song goes, he ‘just can’t wait to be king!’ But when envious Uncle Scar engineers Mufasa’s death and blames it on Simba, the young lion is deceived into thinking that he must leave the kingdom and never return. In exile, lonely and ashamed, he is befriended by Pumba, a big-hearted warthog, and Timon, a manic meerkat.
Simba finds a new family, a new home, and a new way of thinking ‘ all of which help him disguise his past and his true identity.
We are more
we have become!
But while Simba assembles the trappings of a new identity, his true self dogs him, prompting deep conflicts within his heart. In an awkward but telling moment, he denies this father, and in turning his back on his father, Simba denies his true identity. The charade eats away at him until this encounter with a wise, prophetlike baboon named Rafiki:
Simba: Stop following me. Who are you?
Rafiki: The question is, Who are you?
Simba: I thought I knew, but now I am not so sure.
Rafiki: Well, I know who you are.
Simba: I think you’re a little confused.
Rafiki: Wrong! I am not the one who is confused. You don’t even know who you are.
Simba (walking away): Oh, and I suppose you do?
Rafiki: You’re Mufasa’s boy!
Simba’s jukebox has been unplugged. Eager yet afraid to reclaim his identity, Simba follows Rafiki through a dark jungle that leads to a water’s edge. Peering into the water, Rafiki helps Simba take a long, hard look. As the young but maturing lion stares at his own reflection, he sees the face of his father, Mufasa, overtake his image.
‘You see’he lives in you,’ says Rafiki with great wisdom.
We are caught between
divided loyalties and competing identities
which cause conflicting angst.
It’s at this pivotal moment that Simba’s father comes in a cloud and speaks into his son’s confusion (voiced by James Earl Jones at his deepest and best).
Mufasa: Simba, you have forgotten me.
Simba: No. How could I?
Mufasa: You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become.
Mufasa nails the general feeling that grings away at most Christian men. We are more than what we have become. We, too, are caught between divided loyalties and competing identities ‘ real ones and false ones ‘ which cause conflicting angst. Like Simba, our time for talking has passed because God is finished listening to the reasons why we can’t move forward. Our divided hearts must be confronted, or as Psalm 86:11 calls out, ‘Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.’
Need help reclaiming your true identity? Join us at our next Every Man’s Battle workshop.