(Original Disney-inspired artwork by Selma Komisky)
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Defining Decisions of Teens and Toys
By Keni Kirkwood
Who are you when you’re in new territory, when all that defined you, your comfort zone, is far away? Do you become someone new? Or do you rely on what you’ve always known? Those are big questions both teens and toys face. Yes, you read that correctly, toys.
In “Toy Story 4,” America’s favorite toys are facing questions of identity. Each character has to learn and sometimes decide what it really means to be a toy. Woody, Jesse, Buzz, and the gang weren’t Andy’s toys anymore. They were in Bonnie’s world which is a different world. But they weren’t alone in their search. Forky never asked to be a toy at all. Bo Peep was out on her own, without any kid. Gabby Gabby longed for a home, but felt her flaws made her unlovable. Duke Caboom was hurt by past expectations.
Sound familiar? Toys or not, we all face identity questions. But one question has the power to shape us more than any other: “What does it mean to belong to Jesus?”
Whether you’ve grown up knowing about Jesus, or you’ve only just met, we all reach the moment where we must decide what that relationship looks like, and as a result, who that makes us.
You may be deciding to stand on old truths, like Jesse and Buzz, who kept a team together for Bonnie. Or, you may be called to step out into something new, like Woody. Whether you’re holding on to your values in a world that’s testing them, or you’re exploring a new ministry beyond your comfort zone, it’s your moment to put feet to faith.
In the Bible, the people of Israel faced one such moment. In Joshua 24:15 a guy named…surprise, Joshua, says: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (NIV).
Now you might think “Wait a minute…What’s this about other gods? What do Amorites have to do with me?” While bowing to an ancient carving may not be so tempting, the idols of our era are quite shockingly familiar. They can take the shape of things like social media, celebrities and trends. So when you find yourself pressured by “popular girls” or pining after the “influencer” life, that’s when you get to choose whom you’ll serve.
In the New Testament, the Bible tells us to have faith like a child who is simple, pure and trusting. It also says that we’re to put childish ways of living behind us as we grow. So how do we do that? How do we bring a childlike faith into a grown-up world?
I’d love to give you a simple “X + Y = Whatever” answer, but our God is about relationships. He loves variety. An answer for one person isn’t necessarily for everybody just as the toys took different paths. Forky embraced being a toy Bonnie’s toy. Woody decided to try something new, joining Bo Peep to save lost toys. Gabby Gabby ended up helping a lost kid. She found her worth wasn’t in what she lacked, but in the love she could give. Duke Caboom realized he wasn’t defined by the words in his past.
Each toy found its identity in a unique, personal way. Now it’s your turn. Study your Bible and talk to Jesus. How might He be leading you to step out and take your faith from the toybox to real commitment?
It could be time to start that Bible study you’ve thought of, or even just tell your friends what you believe in. Maybe it’s time for some bolder steps such as saying no to a certain party or relationship, switching up your playlist, or opting for a little modesty in your wardrobe.
These can be tricky steps to take, but what’s done for Jesus is worth it. Remember, at the end of the day you’re responsible for the change of your world. Jesus won’t ask you what your parents said or what your friends thought. So who will you be when the world stands blank before you? The choice is yours.
But as for me…just as each toy bears the name of their maker or kid, I’ll proudly bear the name of Jesus on my heart and feet to take a stand.