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Saturday, July 24, 2010

For Pete's Sake

I just started watching one of the first movies that I ever watched as a youngster, along with about the only friend I ever had as a youngster ( all to myself anyway-his name was Shawn, as I recall ); that movie was 'Pete's Dragon', and sitting and watching it with my youngest daughter just now ( were on a break right now ) not only brought back some faint child-hood memories, but it also brought some covenantal truths to mind; 'fresh' truths, if you will!

I just recently wrote an article on how we need not fear the 'night' or 'darkness' ( physical ) anymore, and watching 'Pete's Dragon' ( along with 'Aslan', in the movie version of 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe' ); I was reminded of the superstitious fear that some have garnered over the fear of, even the symbol of the dragon ( see John's 'Revelation' ) and what it has stood for, among those superstitious ones, over the years ( same with snakes ). John's 'dragon' ( from 'Revelation' ) is dead, defeated, conquered, 'crushed' ( Romans 16:20 ) under our heels; we need no longer fear that 'dragon', but Pete's 'dragon', that's another matter!

One line from the movie that I had forgotten, sounds strangely familiar; when asked to sell 'Elliott' ( the dragon, Pete replied that the dragon was not his to sell, and then, when asked who he belonged to, he replied 'he doesn't belong to anybody; he just came to me. He only shows himself to those that need him'. 'Elliott' showed up at a time in Pete's life when he needed him most; like many of us, Pete had a specific need, and this 'magical' dragon came to fill that need, in much the way that God comes to us when we need help. As with most types and allegories; this is not a perfect picture of Christ, nor of what He did and does for us, but as I re-watched this movie today, for probably only the second or third time since I first saw it as a youngster, I couldn't help but see in the story, whether it was intentional on the part of the writer or not, the beautiful picture of the grace of God in Jesus. Granted; this WAS a Disney film, and though an older one, Disney nonetheless, but even so; I have gained a new appreciation for this film and was even almost moved to tears by the beauty of the Christology, intended or not!

This article was not intended to be a synopsis of the movie, so much as a treatise on the Christian life. Whether we will admit it or not; even the strongest of us has fears: fears of the unknown, fears of what may happen if we do such and such, of losing ( in this physical existence, anyway ) a loved one, even of losing ourselves, and to some extent, our salvation. In this physical existence ( and don't get me wrong; I'm not 'downing'' this ( physical ) life ); we often face much the same fears ( and loneliness, which is a fear in itself ), and even though, as Christians, we have realized the spiritual rest that we have been granted in Christ, we still long, often with fear and trembling ( anguish, even ) for that physical rest, that comfort that we, as physical beings, can best feel in the arms of another physical being. When Pete and Elliot first showed up in this quaint little New England ( I believe ) seacoast town; the dragon is not visible, except to those he wishes to reveal himself, and can, at will, become visible or invisible. Watching the havoc, usually purposeful ( to get his beloved Pete out of trouble ), that his mere presence created upon the town, even when invisible, reminded me of Jesus' words to Nicodemus, in John 3:8, 'The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.' Again; not a perfect picture, but I think that this picture, as with many other such pictures serve, not only as entertainment, but as beautiful reminders of what has been done for us, and is done every day, whether we realize it or not!

As I said above; John's 'dragon' was defeated and banished from existence, but we have Pete's 'dragon on our side, fighting our battles, both seen or unseen, real or imagined!

In the love of Christ,  and in His service,
                           Charles Shank

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