I Corinthians 12:1, “…brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed” (NIV).
I can remember sitting in a theater in 1992… just barely 13 years old… 8th grade… surrounded by a good group of girlfriends… ready to watch the latest Disney animated release… Aladdin.
I can remember that it was breathtaking, and I could not only see, but feel, the scene in which Aladdin escapes from the cave of wonders. This endeared the magic carpet to me, for life. Not to mention, “A Whole New World.” For a girl whose love language is vacation; Carpet is a pretty sweet ride…
Aladdin falls somewhere on my Disney favorites list, although it will, admittedly, never hold a candle to Beauty and the Beast or even the much newer era Tangled.
But there are significant problems with this film, as well. After all, Aladdin is the non-prince of lies!
When I stop to think about it, I wonder if watching this particular film… at that particular age… had some unintended consequences, because I’m pretty sure it’s the first time it ever occurred to me that a relationship with a ‘bad boy’ might be appealing, and shortly after that my movie going escapades devolved into sneaking out and lying, myself.
I’ve been thinking about this, lately, because… friends… I’m raising teenagers. Three of them. Although… thank goodness… I’m at least as smart as Jango Fett and only requested one unaltered clone to raise as my own.
I must be doing something right, because as we were rocking out to some T Swift, while driving the other day, she turned to me and asked, “Why would anyone want a ‘bad boy’?”
And I laughed… and laughed… and sent up a quick prayer, thanking God that we might escape the whole ‘sneak out to the movies with boys your parents have never met’ phase…
But I digress… just a little…
There’s this one scene in Aladdin where he flies up to the balcony of Princess Jasmine’s bedroom (that’s not creepy or anything) and essentially makes a bid for her hand in marriage (Elsa… where are you? “You can’t marry a man you just met!” Although there is the whole law about how Jasmine has to marry a man she just met, so it’s a catch 22…). She’s smart enough to initially tell him to “Go jump off a balcony,” but when he does, she discovers that he has a magic carpet, people! She doesn’t really have much of a chance here! Watch the scene. She falls in love with Carpet!
Still, the dialogue has turned impressive at this point, as Aladdin admits, “You should be free to make your own choice…”
Well, ‘bad boy,’ that sounds a little bit like free will, so she’s listening.
But then Jasmine asks, “Is it safe?”
And this is where Aladdin may allow the greatest lie yet to spew from his lips.
“Sure. Do you trust me?”
Oh, friends… Trust is not safe.
The daily office plunges us right back into God’s monologue to Job, today, and I have a slightly different perspective than I had last week. As God continues to recount all of the many things God knows and Job doesn’t, I stopped to think about the vast number of things that are risky… and even scary… There are things God does (satisfying the hunger of lions 38:39), beasts God tames (an ox who serves God? 39:9) that the vast majority of us would not find the least bit appealing. I began to see this as soliloquy, in part. I wonder if God isn’t offering an invitation to Job to join God in God’s work, while also reflecting for Godself about the difficulty of the tasks. I have long since dropped the phrase, “God is in control,” from my vocabulary, but I can also see how God works in the midst of all the difficult circumstances we do not choose in order to bring some good, or at the very least to hold us close while we realize just how dangerous it is to trust in a world where human choice reigns.
Trust is not safe, precisely because there are no guarantees. And yet, unlike Aladdin, God calls us to seek him (see Jer. 29:13), to make informed decisions (I Cor, 12:1, above), to know the truth that does not promise safety or a pain free life but that does promise a God who will not leave us, even in the midst of our greatest struggles and fears.
And we have to trust other people, too. Because, as an example, Job’s friends totally stink! But if you can make it to the end of the book, you’ll find that at least they’re there. At least they come. At least they stay. It counts for something.