What will it take for you to believe?
In the 1991 movie, Hook, Robin Williams plays Peter Banning, a successful and busy accountant, with hardly enough time for his wife and children. When they travel to London to visit extended family, Peter’s children, Jack and Maggie, are abducted from their beds the family’s first night there. The police are baffled, with no leads, while Peter’s elderly mother-in-law, Wendy Darling, insists they were taken by the fairy tale villain Captain Hook. Peter believes she’s going senile, but in his desperation, he talks with her:
Wendy: The stories are true! I swear to you! I swear on everything I adore, and now he’s come back to seek his revenge. The fight isn’t over for Captain James Hook. He wants you back. He knows that you’ll follow Jack and Maggie to the ends of the earth and beyond. And by heaven, you must find a way. Only you can save your children. Somehow, you must go back. You must make yourself remember.
Peter: Remember what?
Wendy: Peter, don’t you know who you are?
[Wendy opens an old book she’s holding about Peter Pan. An illustration in the book shows Peter Pan standing in his signature stance—fists on his hips and legs apart. Peter Banning leans in, staring at the book, fists on his hips and legs apart.]
Wendy: Yes, boy. Yes.
Peter was more than he knew, more than he was living. In his pursuit of happiness, he’d lost his way.
We do this, too, in a million ways. We turn from God because His way seems to move us away from happiness. The younger brother bucked his father’s authority and moved as far away as he could in search of happiness.
Conversely, we can also turn from God in the midst of our best efforts to do good and serve Him. The older brother did just this. He worked for his dad but did not know nor share his father’s heart.
Whether overtly sinful or outwardly “holy,” the old hymn rings true: “Prone to wonder, Lord, I feel it.” We lose our way with Him and we lose ourselves.
“Don’t you remember who you are?”
Jesus remembers for us what we cannot or do not.
No matter how covered, twisted, marred or broken, He remembers God’s holy imprint upon us—people created in God’s image. Broadly, He sees the complementarity of the sexes, our creativity and procreativity, fathering and mothering, friendship and love, desire and beauty, action and receptivity—all these and more a glimpse of Him reflected in us. And He sees each of us unique, beautiful, remarkable, beloved, and unrepeatable.
Jesus remembers and came to seek and save that which is lost in us.
Sometimes it takes a crisis. Even though they choke me, I rarely lay down the comfortable idols willingly. Peter Banning left his workaholic accounting self behind and jumped into a fairy tale he barely believed in because he saw no other option if he wanted to find his kids. Crises have a way of exposing the inadequacy of our defenses and the impotency of our idols.
Sometimes it’s beauty. I can run through a day completely disconnected from the deeper waters of my heart. If I’ll let it in, beauty can wake me. A glimpse of God’s goodness and joy in rainbows, music, kindness, or love can catch me off-guard and move me to think heavenward.
And sometimes it’s miracle. The moments when God moves undeniably, when what’s natural is interrupted by the supernatural, when a crucified Man shows up, Alive. I’m grateful to have witnessed both emotional and physical healings, seen situations change for the better that simply shouldn’t have, and experienced forgiveness and blessing. All this is grace—not just the cancellation of a debt, but then also undeserved gifts poured out—and it shifts something in me seismically.
However it happens, I want to remember, I want to come close, I want to live. But it’s not just remembering I need. My capacity to think rightly can help me, but it cannot save me. What Jesus remembers, He reclaims. And He does so by taking into Himself all the foul stench of sin–whether that looks in me more like sinner or more like saint–and carrying it to the grave with Him. And then rising from the dead, He raises me–true me–to life anew.
He will do this for all of us. We receive it by daring to believe. And even now, if we’ll listen, if we’ll lean in close and open ourselves, we just may hear Him, “Yes, boy. Yes. The stories are true.”
I’d love to hear from you: What awakens you to God’s presence and love in your life? And what makes you—unique you—come alive?