Sometimes we forget who we are. Especially when we are away from home, or off to college, or find ourselves in a new environment. There are so many new thoughts, lifestyles, and temptations. Often our children are drawn away from the foundation of who they really are and their wayward feet can wander. Teens can struggle to discover their true identity. This was the case for my daughter last year. She found herself testing her convictions and deciding for herself which ones will become her own. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but she needed some guidance. Our children must come to own their faith, because if they don’t, it doesn’t really belong to them in the first place.
She has occupied our once-empty guest room this summer, and we’ve declared this to be her “Simba Summer”. Like in The Lion King, It's the summer when she remembers who she is. You see, the world is screaming at our young people desperate to define them as something they are not. I am pleased to say that it wasn’t a week before I saw my daughter making changes toward her usual loving personality. I found her reading her Bible more often and becoming her beautiful soft-hearted self. So here are a few things we can all learn from a “Simba Summer”
This concept comes when Mufasa stands at the edge of the precipice and shows his son what is destined to become his own territory some day. It is then that he pronounces, “Look Simba, everything that the light touches is our kingdom.”
We do not have to live the way of darkness. We have been rescued from all that darkness controls. We walk in the light of His Word and it guides us and leads us in the way we should go.
"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves," (Colossians 1:13).
Simba goes off into the world afraid of all that he is called to become. However, in the end, he can not escape his true identity. He finds himself looking into a pool of water and sees the image of his father reminding him to remember who he really is.
“Simba, you have forgotten me,.. You have forgotten who you are, therefore you have forgotten me. Look inside yourself Simba, you are more that what you have become, you must take your place in the circle of life. Remember who you are…”
It’s not that our kids first forgot God, it is that they have forgotten who they are. As soon as they remember who they are they will remember whose they are. Our Father draws us to the water of his Word because it is there that we remember who we are created to be: a King’s kid, royalty. Because we are entrusted to this higher life, our Father has given us the ability to rule and reign over sin and the world’s system. But it is only when we identify with Him that we can walk in this fullness.
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9 NIV).
In pressing toward the future, we need to put the past behind us. It wouldn’t be a complete Lion King post without quoting dear Pumba.
“You know, kid, in times like this my buddy Timon here says, ‘You got to put your behind in your past…’”
Timon says: “No. No. No. Amateur. Lie down before you hurt yourself. It’s ‘You gotta put your past behind you.’”
Once our children venture out beyond our constant influence and protection, they often make mistakes that cause them to be untrue to themselves, to the values you have taught them at home, and even to their Christian faith. Make sure that you keep this in perspective. We all have a past. We have all "sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). It is at these times that we must encourage our children about how Paul said to deal with the past:
"Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13).
It is not that the past is forgotten completely, but it has been placed in perspective. It is not our focus, it is not where our hearts and minds should dwell. We can’t move forward if we’re constantly looking in the rear view mirror. It’s downright dangerous! It is a trap of the enemy to try to get us caught up in what we’ve done wrong. He tries to tell us we have disqualified ourselves from the higher life we are created to enjoy. Admonish your children to ask forgiveness and be like God who remembers our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12).
It’s a mixed up crazy world for teens and adults alike. A world that constantly tries to label and re-identify us as it’s own citizens. We are aliens in this world and citizens of the Kingdom of God. Sometimes we need a guide to point us back to this truth! When you find that your children are confused about their identity or wayward in their steps, don’t grieve. Our God who began a good work in them will carry it on to completion. In time, they will remember who they are. Perhaps spend some extra time with them. Whatever you do, hakuna matata, no worries! Our world belongs to God.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6).
Rev. Deb Koster
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra