Tag Archives: Bible

Pinocchio vs. Jonah

My wife and I have a Saturday routine of watching part of a cartoon during our breakfast (who says Saturday morning cartoons are only for kids?).

This past weekend, the classic Disney film Pinocchio was our cartoon of choice.


What’s it take to be a real boy?

Watching this story once again, I couldn’t help but consider the image of Geppetto, Figaro (the cat), and Cleo (the goldfish) getting swallowed by the enormous whale, Monstro. It took me instantly to one other famous character getting swallowed by such a huge fish: Jonah.

But there’s an interesting difference in their two stories. For Jonah, his hesitance to do what God was asking of him sent him on a path of running from God, only to get caught in a storm, tossed overboard, and then swallowed by the great fish.

In Pinocchio, it’s his waywardness–as he forewent going to school in order to be an actor and then a miscreant on Pleasure Island–that places his “family” in trouble: getting swallowed by Monstro while trying to search for him.

For Jonah, his disobedience leads to personal consequences. For Pinocchio, his disobedience jeopardizes the lives of those who love him.

They are an interesting counterbalance to one another. Jonah did endanger the lives of others (the sailors on the ship that was taking him to Tarshish), but realizing his guilt, he faced the consequences of his disobedience that they might be spared.

Pinocchio, on the other hand, lived in ignorance–only discovering the fate of his family as a result of a mystical letter that came down from the heavens when he found his house empty. From then, he resolves to undertake the perilous quest of seeking out Monstro and rescuing them…exhibiting the bravery and self-sacrifice which would eventually result in him becoming a real boy.

The lesson I see here is in realizing the ripples of consequence that result from our actions. We don’t only hurt or endanger ourselves in our choices. We may be risking the lives of others, thoughtlessly, unintentionally.

And we may need a heavenly letter to point these things out to us, to get us back on the right track, to be the human being that we were intended to be.

Thankfully, such a letter is available to us.

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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in Life


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I Just Can’t Get Out

I Just Can’t Get Out

It seemed so futile.

While sitting at my desk today, my ears were perked by a frustrated buzzing sound.

As I looked at the window in front of me, I saw the wasp that was desperately trying to get back out doors. He walked up and down the window pane, wings fluttering constantly in case he should finally step off of this invisible barrier and achieve his goal of the great wide open.

So close, but yet so far.

So close, but yet so far.

For 12 minutes he paced the glass, often times wandering farther away from the open window and his only escape to freedom, his only path to achieve his heart’s desire.

I occasionally tried to usher him in the right direction, using the window curtain or a piece of paper. To no avail; he was certain that if he just kept where he was, he would eventually get through. And had he moved 6 inches to the right, he would have succeeded. I wondered if it would ever happen. I considered whether or not I should just crush him against the glass, ending his frustration (and my own).

But I didn’t. After some minutes he made it to the top pane of glass, then shifted so that he sat just above the opened window. I could see that hope was in sight; would he take that final step down and around the window frame obstacle and find freedom?

He did!

While watching this wasp, I realized this was a perfect sermon illustration…5 months too late for a message that I gave earlier this year (which you can listen to from my Writings page; just scroll down to Sermon Audio).

In that talk, I reflected on how we can get distracted, even blockaded, from attaining the very good purposes we may have by becoming fixated upon the means, rather than the goal.

This wasp couldn’t get out the window because he was stuck on dealing with the window.

Similarly, we sometimes may struggle to attain the goal of really walking with God, engaging deeply with Him, because we may get distracted by the very avenues–spiritual disciplines, our own experience, worship, testimony, prayer, even Scripture–that should enable us to encounter God. All of these “windows” are excellent avenues for us to get a vision of relationship with God, and are effective means for us to meet with Him. Or at least they can be. They can also become a distraction to us if we end up obsessing over the means, and set aside the ends.

The wasp got out eventually. I don’t know how bruised he was after bashing himself against the inside of my window for nearly a quarter of an hour. I don’t know what emotions he encountered, what wounds he acquired, but I do know that he wasted a fair bit of time and energy…especially for an insect with a lifespan of just 12 days.

What about us? What are the goals of our own spiritual lives? What avenues do we have for walking those paths? And are we utilizing those avenues well, or are we enabling ourselves to become distracted? Are we caught up in some nuance of Scripture that’s preventing us from hearing God? Are we concerned about the format (or formula) of our prayer, rather than actually having a conversation with God? Are we embarrassed by our singing voice or lack of rhythm, rather than worshiping God? Are we spooked by the labels that others may ascribe to us, rather than enjoying a spiritual discipline as an opportunity to meet with God?

What windows are we butting up against, rather than walking through? In what areas of life are we internally proclaiming, “I just can’t get out”?

In addition to the sermon mentioned above (entitled “Windows & Rainbow Stickers“), another resource I’ve found helpful for this question is a book entitled Designed for Relationship, which looks at various aspects of who we are, and addresses challenges and opportunities for growth in each that can enable us to have the kind of interaction with God that we were intended for. Definitely recommended.

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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Life, Prayer, Theology


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