I LOVE the Kung Fu Panda series! Just love it. Yes, I'm a grown woman who watches children's movies. So what? HA! Go ahead and laugh...but when I'm done explaining why, you'll never be able to see these movies again without a deep appreciation for them.
Po is a panda (duh, April). A big, fat, flabby, clumsy panda. He's not always real bright and he has the patience of a five year old. That's ok...because what he does, he does with joy! Real joy. Unhinged joy. Blatant, out loud joy. We could all use more joy in our lives.
In the first movie Po is chosen to be Dragon Warrior. Everyone thinks Master Oogway is nuts. Po has no training, is unheard of, and certainly is not anyone's image of the Dragon Warrior. Master Shifu does his best to make him quit because Po does not fit the mental image HE has for who and what the Dragon Warrior should be.
Is this starting to sound familiar? Doesn't this totally sound like real life? Po is about as different as you can get. He's adopted...by a goose. He's nothing like his adopted dad. He's out of shape with a dream to be this amazing martial arts master. He plays with dolls...sorry, action figures...as a grown man...I mean, panda. If we are going to be stereotypical, this man panda should never be anything more than a big kid who works in fast food and lives with his dad.
But he's got a dream and no matter how foolish, or how many people tell him he will never make it, he never gives up. "Because a real warrior never quits!" How can we not want to emulate this goofy panda? Even when his dad tries to discourage him (probably because he doesn't want him to get hurt, and probably a little bit because he's used to having him help in the restaurant), he still, politely, presses on.
The secret in this movie is that "there is no secret ingredient". YOU ARE ENOUGH! No, really, you are enough! You, just the way you are. You with the flabby arms and saggy tummy...you are enough. You with the GED working in an auto repair shop...you are enough. You with the two kids and no spouse and two jobs and never ending pile of bills...you are enough! How awesome a message is that?? Po...flabby, clumsy, and mostly untrained Po was enough to beat the bad guy.
What's interesting is that this, for me, is the same message that God gives us. I am enough to do what He has put me here to do. I am enough for my kids. I am enough for my husband. I am enough for my church. I am enough for the people in my neighborhood. I am enough for my friends. I have to remind myself of this, over and over again because the world is often like Shifu...telling us that we aren't right for the position we are in. We aren't enough or right or what's needed. What nonsense! If God put you there, you are enough. I love that Po is able to prove him wrong and defeat the bad guy (who really is just a big kitty who has lost all joy in life). And I love that Po tries to help Tai Lung understand what he is missing. Too bad he wasn't willing to listen to a panda.
I could go on and on. There are two more movies, and maybe later I'll pull apart the other two. However, I'm just going to mention one more thing. Po is always joyful. Po loves kung fu. Po loves training, even when it hurts. Po loves being able to hang out and learn with his heroes. Po just plain loves life. He might not be able to do all that stuff that those professionals do, but it sure doesn't stop him from getting in there and trying. He's not afraid to start at "level zero" and while he doesn't want to show off his mad skills in front of the masters...well, he works his way up to it! Does he embarrass himself? Sure. Does that make him quit? Nope. Does he take some pain? You know it! Does he quit? Nope. In spite of all this, Po still takes joy in being able to train with the Masters. He doesn't get bitter, and every time a new piece of kung fu is revealed to him, he gets as excited as a toddler with a candy bar.
I love Po for this! We all start at level zero. We all fail. We all fall. We all embarrass ourselves. We all know and have others who are better than we are. But not all of us carry on any way. Not all of us keep our joy. I wish we would. I wish we who are Christian would remember that the joy of the Lord is supposed to keep us going. We can reach people through our joy. We can accomplish so much if we just keep our joy. Not our happy...even Po wasn't always happy. Remember the sacred peach tree? He had his downs. But he never lost his joy. He knew that he still got to do what he always wanted to do.
I should hope that we should have always wanted to serve the Lord and be a part of His miracles. I should hope that we should have always wanted to serve others and be a part in bringing some light to the dark. I should hope that in spite of our ups and downs in this life, that we take joy in remembering what comes next. We are the children of God. Heir to the throne with Christ Jesus as our brother. We will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. And we are bringers of light in a dark world.
Whenever you start to lose your joy, think of Tai Lung. Was he great at Kung Fu? You bet! That kitty was beating people up left and right. He took on all challengers and won...right up until he went against that "big, fat panda". Then he lost. Ever notice that Po smiles and giggles when he's fighting Tai Lung. Even against this opponent who might kill him, he's joyful.
Don't let us be the Tai Lungs of the church. Don't let us lose our joy. Don't let us be ashamed of where we are in life, and don't let us listen to those Master Shifus who tell us we aren't enough. Whenever you are feeling down about your journey with God and you need a silly and quick lift...watch some Kung Fu Panda. I promise it will make you smile...and remember that YOU, yes YOU, are enough in God's plan.
My favorite quote: "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why they call it the present." Master Oogway.
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4: 13-15