The newest and latest version of the Lion King came out this summer as most of you probably already know. The original movie that was released about 25 years ago was a huge success at the box office – but not in comparison to the latest movie. The original was given very little chance of ever reaching the big screen. The person who was given the job to create it was really put in exile – it was an assignment of sorts to send him away and be forgotten. However, he came up with a real winner, and it included the famous Elton John as the premium voice of the songs that we know famously today including “The Circle of Life” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” Twenty-five years later the remake had grossed more in the first weekend than the original ever did at the box-office. Disney’s CEO said recently that the Lion King has become its biggest and best movie of all time (and think of that! Think how many great Disney movies you can think of just off the top of your head!) because of its story and great lessons it teaches.

In my family, we love collies (Lassie dogs). The collie we had before the one we have now, we named him Simba…his nick name was King Simba. And he was so beautiful, gentle, kind, royal and kingly! We also love the music of the Lion King. But we also love some of the lessons that we are reminded of that emerge from this movie. I would like to share with you a few of those lessons that come from King Simba that are very compatible with the teachings of Jesus and can help to reinforce our love for God and give us strength in our day to day lives.

First, the relationship between Mufasa and Simba enjoyed a great father-son relationship. It reminds me of my relationship between my dad and me. As busy and successful as my dad was as a military officer, engineer for the government and working with NASA, he always had time for me – he made time for me. And though he was strict, he made our times together fun and memorable. He was also a great teacher and used every moment to teach me about life. Mufasa had this type of relationship with Simba. As a young lion cub, Simba basked in his dad’s love and fun, while at the same time learning essential life lessons. It was a beautiful picture of what a parent-child relationship can be. It is also a picture of the relationship between Jesus and His Heavenly Father. Jesus was often heard saying how much He loved his dad…how He only wanted to do what His Heavenly Father wanted Him to do…and hearing His Father’s voice saying how much He loved and approved of his Son, Jesus. This is a vivid reminder to all of us as parents as to how much influence we have over our children and that we need to use it wisely to love them, to show them approval and to teach them lessons in preparation for life.

A second lesson from this movie is the power of how we see ourselves. Most often how we see ourselves comes from what others have told us…the story they have told us about us and the story we keep telling ourselves about us. Even though Mufasa gave loving affirmation to Simba, what sadly became Simba’s story was the untrue story that Scar told him – that he was responsible for the death of his dad. Scar told Simba that he was no good and that he just needed to go away. This was all a scam to drive Simba away from his rightful place on the throne after his dad died so Scar could get it. But what really hits me about this, and what I see affects so many people is that we are often told by others “we can’t”, “we aren’t any good”, “we aren’t worthy enough”, “we aren’t loveable”, “we aren’t capable enough” or some other negative lie. The worst part isn’t that we are told these things – but that we believe them and rehearse these lies to ourselves day after day through our self-talk to where they become etched in our brain and this is who we become. The awesome thing that happens in this movie to counter this lie that Simba was living with that was causing him so much pain, grief, guilt and shame, was when he was directed to really look at his reflection and re-hear the assuring words of Mufasa, that reminded him of who he really was. He was reminded that the king was not dead, but that he lived inside of him. This is a visual reminder to all of us, even when hearing and embracing the lies that other people have told us or that Satan has spoken into our ear, that God deeply loves us…that He has given us the capacity to fulfill our destiny…and that through the Holy Spirit, we are filled with the power and presence of the Living God – that we aren’t worthless or void of anything that we need. Because we have God living inside of us, we have intrinsic value and worth – just like Simba!

The third lesson is one we learn on the fly in life but needs to be reinforced by good friends around us. Simba was knocked down and almost knocked out – he lost his dad at a young age and then was blamed by Scar for his untimely death. I can only imagine the guilt and shame that would overcome me if this had happened to me. Fortunately, Simba had two awesome friends, Timon and Pumba. While they may not have been the sharpest tools in the bag, they made one profound statement, “you can’t change the past but you can change the future.” Things that knock us down (job loss, financial loss, divorce, illness, being victimized…) will either destroy us or fuel us to become better. Stephen Covey talks about this in his best seller Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that we will either be destroyed by blaming others for what happens to us or we will make the choice to be proactive. He goes onto state that while we can’t control what happens to us, we can control our response to what happens to us. Good thing for Simba that he had the support of his friends and listened to the wisdom of Timon and Pumba to not stay down, but to rise up and become King Simba – who would walk in step in with his beloved Nala and return to save his people and be the great king that he was destined to be. Whatever has or will knock us down, be assured that God will bring people into our path to encourage us and challenge us to get back up and live out our God-given purpose.

King Simba teaches us many lessons and is a great example to all of us what God can do in us and through us if we will trust Him. And finally, let’s find some quiet time so we, like Simba who heard the assuring and affirming words of his father Mufasa, can hear our Heavenly Father whisper to us that He is proud of us and has great things for us to accomplish! See you next time…

Bob Mlynek