“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
Not too long ago, I watched Finding Dory for the first time. I live with my pastors and their two ridiculously cute children. So, I get lots of opportunities to watch kids movies and I love them. It might sound a little ridiculous, but by the time the movie was over, I was in tears…overcome with emotions.
The premise of the story (spoiler alert!) is that Dory loses her family. She suffers from memory loss and can’t remember her way back home. At one point, she can’t remember anything about her family. She just knows that somewhere out there her parents must exist. Dory has a flashback of her family that gives her just enough information to begin her journey back home. She perseveres through the dangers of the deep blue sea and despite all odds, makes her way back to her family. When she finally makes it to her parents, she discovers that they have been waiting in the same place patiently for her, believing that one day she would remember where she came from and make her way back to them. They had carefully laid out paths of shells in every direction, so that their beloved daughter would be able to find her way back. That hit me hard. This story reminded me so much of the story of the Prodigal Son referenced above. After arriving at his lowest point, the son remembers the home and the Father he came from. He finds his way back and when he arrives, His Father is already waiting with open arms.
Sometimes we get so caught up and distracted by the cares of this life that we can suffer from memory loss too. We forget our identity in Christ. We forget who we are. We can lose our way. Sometimes we get so caught up we don’t even realize what we have forgotten. But God is so faithful. He patiently waits for us, waiting for us to have the slightest glimpse of remembrance. He carefully lays the path before us to follow, a path that lands us right into His embrace. Despite the fact that I have been a Christian my whole adult life, there are times I get caught up doing things my own way. I try to carve out my own path, but God always brings me to the point of remembering what I have forgotten. I hear the gentle reminder deep within my Spirit, you have forgotten your first love (Rev. 2:4). He lights up the path before me and brings me back to Him.
There was another lesson I drew from Dory. We all have people in our lives that we love and desire the best for. There are people in our lives that we want to sit down, shake by the shoulders and say, “Remember who you are!” This scene served as a powerful reminder to me that I can trust God to lay out the paths for my loved ones to follow home. I can trust that God could lay out paths that I never could, paths that are uniquely suited and designed for that specific individual. God knows if the path needs to go through the valley or the wilderness. He knows all the bends and curves that are necessary and while I may not understand the paths he chooses, or allows, for myself or my loved ones, I can know they are always right. As Dory points out to her parents, she was never alone throughout the whole process. So it is with us. We are never alone.
The motto of the Marine Life Institute, where Dory goes to find her family, is “Rescue. Rehabilitate. Release.” Those three small words made an impact on my heart. It is God’s job to rescue and his job to rehabilitate the brokenness in my own heart and the brokenness that surrounds me. It is my job to release every worry, concern and care into His hands. He is more than able and more than faithful to bring restoration and redemption to the places of my deepest needs and longings and even to my hurts.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)