Disney’s latest live-action remake of an animated movie opens in theaters this weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing this new version of Dumbo, which will be almost double the length of the original movie. There will be additions to the first film, and some deletions, too, such as the absence of Timothy, the mouse who helped convince Dumbo he could fly.
In 1941, Dumbo was the fifth animated movie to be released by Disney. Seventy-eight years and hundreds of movies later, it remains one of the best-loved stories Disney has produced. Part of Dumbo’s continuing fame may be due in part to the “Flying Elephant” ride at Disney parks that let’s us all experience the thrill of soaring through the air, but I think the main attraction of Dumbo the movie is Dumbo the elephant. And it’s not because he can fly. It’s because he believed in himself and reached his full potential—something we all want to do.
Bookstores and online sites are full of advice and encouragement to help us reach our full potential, follow our dreams, be successful, and have it all. Yet somewhere in the back of our minds lurks a quiet voice that says, “I can’t do that” – “I’m not good enough” – “I don’t have enough talent, or connections, or luck to make it.” Because it seems that only the most talented, most beautiful, most connected, or luckiest people ever do make it big in this world.
And that’s why we love Dumbo—a small, odd, clumsy, elephant, mostly alone in the world, with no one rooting for him but a tiny mouse and some silly crows. If he could do amazing things, why can’t we?
Of course, Dumbo didn’t believe in himself at first. Timothy and the crows tricked him into flying by telling him a “magic feather” would allow him to fly. When he lost the feather and had nothing to rely on but himself, he finally learned of his own special abilities.
As Christians, we can be tempted like everyone else to believe that this kind of education, or that kind of look, or someone else’s plan of action is what it will take for us to be successful. We look for resources outside ourselves to help us do the things we dream of doing. But, like Dumbo, we need to look within ourselves. But it’s not ourselves we need to rely on. It’s the Holy Spirit within us. It’s Jesus Christ who redeemed us. It’s God the Father who gives us all good things.
We have great abilities to do amazing things as we allow God to do his work through us. We just have to believe—in Him.
If you are feeling overwhelmed today, or stuck, or incapable, or too small and odd and clumsy, remind yourself of one of the stories in the Bible of a man or woman who was also overwhelmed, or stuck, or incapable and yet overcame their own limitations by God’s power. Read their story again. Remind yourself that the same God who empowered them will empower you to do His will.
Please comment below and tell me which Bible character you thought of. You can click on the “Comment” link at the top of this post (by the date) to see other comments, too.
Then, go, believe, and fly!
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
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Stories are a metaphor for life. That's a deep way of saying we can learn life lessons from stories we read or watch on stage or on big or small screens. When viewed through a Christian worldview, even secular films and books can tell us something about our Christian walk. Here you will find a collection of blog posts with lessons I have learned from stories. I hope you enjoy them!