This post is an edited version of a post Beyond The Reef from my personal website called Drawing From The Well. It is based on what I saw of the Lord in the Disney movie Moana. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have seen the movie to read this because in the post I focus on the call of God to His church that I ‘heard’ in the movie. I believe the content of the post is very much aligned to God’s call today, to return to The Ancient Pathways or in Moana’s case to go out ‘Beyond the Reef’. I hope you enjoy and I do thoroughly recommend watching the movie sometime 🙂
…In the recent children’s animation movie Moana there are a number of very powerful scenes that, if you look with spiritual eyes, reveal something of the Spirit realm to which you and I belong. Of-course, these are only shadows & types.
One scene that really spoke to me was concerning Moana’s ancestors. Her ancestors were voyagers, you see. However, over time her people had become afraid of the reef and decided to remain safe and no longer would venture out past the reef where all the best fish could be found for food. Out of fear of personal pain and cost, they made the decision to choose comfort and to eat the same old food rather than pursue a higher calling that would demand much from them.
This reminded me of how the church in general has lost her way, how she has lost her heart. The church was once a vibrant spiritual organism growing in her ongoing discovery into the Son of God as she lived out of His life that indwelt her. You’ve only got to read the book of Acts to see that. She was full of faith, unshakeable, courageous and ready to give up her life for the sake of Christ and His glorious gospel. Christ was her all and she was willing to give up everything for Him with joy. Her focus was in Christ and heavenly things not on the earth. But she has become insular, self-protective, passive, self-occupied and has lost her desire to know Him beyond what she is spoon-fed. She has shrunk back.
Moana’s ancestors had become afraid of the reef – just as the church has become afraid of the cross. I’m not talking about the cross that Jesus hung upon when He was crucified. I’m talking about the cross that Jesus tells His disciples to take up daily in His call to follow Him. That daily cross means pain, suffering, personal sacrifice, giving up one’s soul life and laying down one’s preferences and comforts, all for Jesus’ sake.
In ignorance and spiritual immaturity, the church at large hides from the pain and suffering of the cross that Jesus told us to take up and carry daily. She only desires comfort, knowledge without experience, familiarity, prosperity and blessing. She has settled for stories about Jesus instead of living His Resurrection Life that lies beyond the cross and subsequently has preached a watered down and powerless gospel to the world.
As the Moana story goes on, Moana ventures out past the reef and things happen as a result, which is a great picture of what is happening in portion’s of Christ’s body/church today. Yes folks, be encouraged because there are many saints all over the world who are quietly actually embracing the cross in its various and perfectly fashioned forms by the Father. They’re venturing out past the spiritual reefs and breakers so to speak, in search of knowing a greater Christ than they’ve ever known before. Brothers and sisters in Christ are responding to the Spirit’s call, they are rising up in a growing desperate pursuit of Christ who is our real food, our real drink, the food that satisfies, the drink that quenches all thirst forevermore.
These believers are no longer satisfied with being spoon-fed in the comforts of their pews or even small cell groups still existing under man-made positions and facilitation. They are hungry and thirsty and willing to pay the price for the real food – Christ as the Head and Centre of His church!
Coming back to Moana – typically, once she has faced her fears and trials, she eventually achieves the goal she set sail for. When this happens, the animators give the viewers a climactic explosion of life in a glorious scene of Moana sailing on the wild seas and watching with wide eyes of wonder, her ancestors on their boats riding the waves all around her, passing her on their journey as she looks on. The two realms of time & eternity are revealed simultaneously.
This scene spoke to me of that great cloud of witnesses that we read about in Hebrews Chapter 12, verse 1;
Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…
I was reminded of our Christian roots – that we as believers are sojourners, voyagers in our discovery of Christ and all that He is. He is the mighty ocean. He is the reef (the cross) and all that is beyond the reef yet to be discovered. He is the Resurrection and the Life! Our lives are meant to be lived out as an adventure in knowing Him through our trials and tribulations for the glory that lies before us – truly knowing Him!
Those trials and tribulations can come in all shapes and sizes. Yet, in all peril we are travelling a path well trod by those who went before us – like Moana’s ancestors who forged on past the reef and through storms and danger carried along by their adventurous spirit to find richer food and a richer existence as a result. So we can do the same in our journey in knowing Christ with hearts of faith and love for Him.
Those saints who have walked the ancient paths of knowing God through all their trials and tribulations, perseverance and endurance, fellowshipping with Christ through suffering – can really be thought of as our spiritual ancestors. I’m talking about spiritual ancestors in light of the reality that those who are in Christ, are called the children of Abraham – not by the flesh but by the Spirit – faith.
When we take up our cross and pursue Christ at all costs, when we are prepared to forsake all if we have to in order to follow Him, when we are desperate to know Him and what He is after and are prepared to lay down our own lives so that He gets what He wants in us, we join the same venture that our spiritual forefathers knew. We walk with them – they cheer us on.
Let’s get one thing straight. The journey of the believer is a spiritual one. That means it is not of this realm. It is not an external journey of a type of godly behaviour, rules and appearances. It is a life lived by another realm, the realm of the Spirit – because it is a life that is impossible for us to live. It is our self-life laid down in the waters of baptism and Christ’s life resurrected in us – no longer we that live but Christ who lives in us instead.
It is said concerning our spirit…it is the only place in you that comes from the other realm, the heavenly realm, the external realm…It is the place where I (Christ) live as the connection between heaven and earth…(New Day, Milt Rodriguez).
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes…(Ezekiel 36:26).
God causing us to walk in His statutes (measure, ruling, commandment, covenant, proclamation) is a spiritual act on His behalf, done by God Himself! Brothers and sisters, if you are in Christ, then God is the one causing you to walk in His statues. Just as He has done so in countless other saints who have walked those ancient ways before us. Thousands upon thousands of saints have lived and died before us, having carried their cross daily as they walked the same paths of knowing God and Christ Jesus, as God intended to be known.
Is the Lord calling you to venture out from the comfort and conformity of life on an island (passive Christianity) and go beyond the reef (take up your cross) to travel the ancient pathways trod by thousands of saints who’ve gone before? Do you sense in your God-given spirit that there is much more to discover and explore of and in Christ than you’ve ever known before? Do you sense that He is worth a desperate pursuit? Do you believe there is Life awaiting you on the other side of the reef (cross)? Are you prepared to embrace the cross in your life, whatever it may be?
Then Jesus said in Mark 4:9, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”.