This devotional draws on fantastical themes of fiction, in particular the Disney movie Moana, in which the ocean calls a young girl to pursue more than just a life of ease on her island. In the same way, as Christians we are called by God. We are meant to be more than just humans, and our lives are more than earthly bodies. In our lives, we pursue adventure as we follow the Holy Spirit, who knows our hearts and speaks for us when we don’t know what to say.
Key Passages: Romans 8:18-29; Ecclesiastes 3:11
Opening: Who has seen the movie Moana? If possible, play some clips or songs from the movie. Discuss favorite elements or characters of the film, and provide brief synopsis of plot if anyone is not familiar with it. Additionally, talk about some of the components of the movie to clarify the movie fiction versus Biblical truth…in the movie, the “gods” have made islands, oceans, etc…what do we know to be true? (God made all things.) There is nothing wrong with enjoying mythology, but we need to make sure to distinguish it from God’s truth.
Spiritual Groanings: Take a look at the passage from Romans. Highlight a few key verses:
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God… Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. -Romans 8:19-21; 23
What does this mean? In simpler terms, think of “creation liberation” as our present bodies and situations as a temporary outfit. We live in the world now, but really it is not our ultimate home. God has created it, so there’s nothing evil about the earth or our bodies. However, there is a greater aspect, a heavenly “adoption” that we wait for. The verse mentions “redemption” of bodies…redemption can refer to turning in one thing for another, or making it better. When we redeem tickets at Chuck E. Cheese, we turn in the tickets and receive prizes in their place. If we redeem our bodies, we turn in these old shells, and God gives us something better to embrace.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. -Romans 8:26
What is this “Spirit”? It is part of God, and it can (as we see here) bridge the gap between our human failings and God’s perfect ideals. We don’t always know what to do or how to do it. But the spirit can step in and speak for us when we have no words to say.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. -Ecclesiastes 3:11
Go back to the Moana ideas…in the movie, Moana (daughter of the island chief) is called by the ocean at a very young age. Her grandmother encourages her to listen to this inner yearning, and assures her that she is destined to do amazing things. The islanders who surround her are content to live in peace within the confines of their little paradise area. The ocean beyond the reef is a terrifying and dread-inducing place to them, and Moana is encouraged to avoid it. However, when the fruits and fish on which the island relies begin to die, someone must take the risk of venturing out into the open and restoring beauty. Moana bravely leaves the safety of her family to pursue the quest of finding the end of the ocean and saving her people.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28
How can we relate to this? We have options…in our present home on earth, we can become comfortable and try to enjoy ourselves. We can develop a tunnel vision and ignore the fear and danger around us. But ultimately, we are black and crumbling inside. If we want to restore our own lives, we must be willing to lose them. We must take risks and venture through the journey of life to follow God and listen to His voice. Moana trusts the ocean, and it takes care of her as the chosen one. At times the ocean buffets and breaks her, but it brings things to good in the end. We can experience the same when we trust the Holy Spirit. We know God has called us, and that even when things feel rough, He is working for our good as those He loves and has called. God has “set eternity in our hearts…” we belong to something more than the temporal world, something greater.
- How do we know God has called us? (The Bible affirms it; we pray and know Him)
- What kinds of things could be that “ocean beyond the reef” in our lives? (Moving; career options; being nice to people we don’t know…)
- How can we confront scary things? (Pray; we know we can trust God for protection)
Craft: Shell art…if available, go with the Moana island princess theme and use seashells to create a craft…they can be turned into necklaces, placed in diorama, painted/drawn on, glued to paper…it all depends on the size and number of shells, and creativity of the crafter.
Close with prayer and thank God for the knowledge and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Ask that we would trust our calling and allow ourselves to be guided in all things.