Basking like a lizard on a sun-drenched bench overlooking an ice-crusted pond, I sit here in Chapters surrounded by books of every size, subject and passion, reflecting on the artist’s privilege to illuminate, teach and inspire. Today, it is “The Rise of the Guardians” movie which has caught my gaze.
“Rise of the Guardians” is an image-rich animated film starring beloved heroes familiar to most children: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and Jack Frost. Resplendent with hummingbird jewel-toned scenery, robust accents, flashes of silly elfin humour and plenty of personality conflicts, this film offers a fresh fantasy of North and the Guardians.
One scene in particular found me urging friends to go see this movie, with or without children in tow. (Spoiler Alert: Plot will be mentioned, so close your eyes if you just want a thumbs up for this feature film.)
In this climatic scene, Pitch, the evil villain who had bombarded the hearts of children with a deluge of daily nightmares is boasting of his control over the children of the world with the power of fear. Troubled, defensive and weary, the children were blind to their childhood heroes,only seeing their evil foe. After a prolonged dogfight with the Guardians doing their utmost to protect the children, Jack Frost, rather than continue in battle, tosses snowballs at the frightened children.
Only peals of laughter are heard as Jack Frost surprises the children with well-aimed snowballs. As the snow flies, fears ease and the children play their hearts out in the wintry joy of fresh white snow. To Pitch’s dismay, as the winter play continues, he becomes invisible to the children, as they are so caught up in the fun of the game, they lose all focus of their fears.
(On this freezing cold day in Canada at -25 Celsuis, a snow ball fight might feel more like a Grade Ten Phys. Ed. Endurance Test, but on less chilly sunny winter days, a snowball fight with soft powdered snow, the type that scrunches into a snowball with two turns in a wool-mitted hand, is pure bliss. Especially when the game stays lighthearted and words like “payback” and “I’ll get you” or worse, “snow-job” aren’t lobed through the air.)
So here is a key to the Kingdom: Play displaces fear.
In my own battle against fear, both within and without, some bitterly real, others anxiously contrived, I have never paused to just stop battling and play instead.
Play is a key which opens our hearts to the Kingdom where we are children again.
So often we are like those nightmare-tormented children who lose sight of their heroes, losing sight of our amazing King Jesus who, like the Guardians in this movie, never gives up the coveted role of guarding, protecting and blessing the children, whether seen or not.
Play refocuses our gaze and lures us to abandon our independence, to just trust God our Father to do the guarding so we can do the playing.
Joy, not fear, should be the natural state for God’s kids. If we are certain of our Father, we can play in real-time as we choose to relax in His love instead of being engaged by our fears.
As illustrated in Rise of the Guardians, play expands our capacity to see, to enjoy, to even perceive this Kingdom of God. If we disengage from battle and trust God with the outcomes, we can then enjoy that silly child’s knock-knock joke, hear those crisp leaves crunching beneath our feet, thrill at the thumps of ball and boy on the court, or relish that delicious meal. Then in peace, our thankful hearts naturally reach up to thank our Father who made it all possible.
Fear has no place at the table when play engages our hearts with a feast of ease.
In Romans 15:13 Paul prays, Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God knows the Kingdom comes when we abound in hope, not fear.
Try a bit of play and see what happens with your Hope Meter. Experiment with some playtime in this bountiful creation and tell us what it did for the fears that plague you.
And let me know if you liked the movie. I sure did.
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