Tonight our student ministry continued our summer series titled “Merge at the Movies: Finding Faith in Film” by taking a look at “Kung Fu Panda 2.” Can Po the Panda teach us anything about our relationship with God? This time we see a hero’s awesome new life interrupted by the emergence of a formidable villain who is planning on using a secret and unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu once and for all. Po must take a hard look at his past in order to uncover secrets from his mysterious origins. He is called to find strength in such painful secrets.
What aspect of faith can we draw from this film? Why is this so important? I think of the scene where Po is distracted by a symbol on the head wolf’s armor which causes a flashback of his mother (and unknowingly allows his enemies to escape). He immediately returns home to ask his goose-father where he came from (and then is told that he was found as a baby in a radish crate).
This story reminds me of a similar narrative found in Scripture (where another hero was saved to then save others). The Bible reads, “Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, ‘This is one of the Hebrews’ children.’ Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’ And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Go.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed him. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, ‘Because,’ she said, ‘I drew him out of the water'” (Exodus 2:1-10, ESV).
We read of a new regime of Egyptian leadership who felt threatened by the rapid growth of the Hebrew slaves. They choose to work them ruthlessly. But nothing seems to stop them from multiplying. The Pharaoh finally orders the nurses to kill any boys born in these homes – going as far as to drown them in the Nile.
I think of what the wise-woman said to Po, “Your story may not have such a happy beginning, but that doesn’t make you who you are. It is rest of your story, who you choose to be. So, who are you?” The biblical account tells of a mother who does everything she can to save the child she adores. We know from later on in the book that she already has two children, Miriam and Aaron, but for some reason she has a special place in her heart for this one. She describes the boy as being lovely (in looks and in appearance). So she hides the child…but there comes a time where to do this just becomes far too difficult and dangerous. So here is the heart-wrenching part of the story…she is forced to create a basket-like boat from papyrus reeds and pitch (that it might be watertight). We must understand that this is anything but child abandonment – but instead an act of love and hope. The mother uses what she has while at the same time still managing to trust that God is in control
The basket floats down the river. Who of all people would discover it but the Pharaoh’s daughter. She hears the baby crying. Her heart softens. She wants to spare this baby – even if he is Hebrew in descent. And then one should also be impressed with the maturity of Miriam – she knows exactly what to say (not too much and not too little). What a glimpse into God’s sovereignty – Pharaoh’s daughter actually unknowingly returns the child to his mother, paying her to take care of her very own child, and that the child might now be taught the traditions and teachings of his own faith and family.
The child would later be brought into Pharaoh’s household and adopted by his family. He would be given the name “Moses” – which means “to draw out of the water.” He was rescued in water (and would one day rescue by water – through the separation of the Red Sea). Moses would grow up to be the very man chosen by God to free the Hebrew slaves – that they might live in a land of Promise and worship the One True God.
Does your story not have a happy beginning? Does that in and of itself make you who you are? Will we allow the tragic situations or circumstances to define us as individuals? Will we settle for becoming bitter or resentful towards those who have caused us such great harm? Will we forever play the victim or feel as if we are doomed to repeat the past? I know that so many of us wrestle with that forever-nagging question, “Where is God when it hurts?” We know that it was never supposed to be this way – the world clearly is broken. And yet, we can be confident that he hears (and feels) our cries – and that he shows himself time and time again as a God who is present with the hurting.
What will be the rest of our stories? How will we find peace? Share that peace? We should take hope by reading of yet another prince who was being threatened by a rebellious ruler. This boy was caught up in a time period where the Herod (a pagan and puppet-king appointed by Rome to reign over Israel) caught wind of the REAL king of the Jews being born. So, like Pharaoh, he actually believed that he could usurp God by killing all male children under two years of age in Bethlehem. But heavenly messengers warned Joseph via a dream so that the family could pick up and move (raising their son, Jesus, in Egypt (of all places) until Herod’s death.
We can learn such insightful life lesson from Po’s interaction with Shen. His rival asks him, “How did you find peace? I took away your parents, everything, I scarred you for life.” And the Panda responds, “See that’s the thing – scars heal.” Shen, who can’t fathom this forgiveness, retorts,”No they don’t – wounds heal.” Po answers, “I guess. But scars fade.” Shen, frustrated by this, screams, “I don’t care what scars do!” And Po ends the conversation by saying, “You have to let go of stuff from the past – it only matters what you choose to be now.”