Thursday, September 22, 2011

Who's Your Daddy?

 It's a hard knock life for us! It's a hard knock life for us! 'Steada treated, we get tricked! 'Steada kisses, We get kicked! 
- Annie and the Orphans

It would be hard to overstate how many times I've viewed the movie/musical Annie this past year.  Our Maggie doesn't care for animation at all.  Just give the girl a good old-fashioned live-action comedy with dancing and singing and she's satisfied.  Our problem is...we only have Annie and I'm not kidding here, it's starting to get to me.

I'm hearing these sings in my sleep and humming them during the day. (We need some recommendations for other musicals for kids.  Pleeeease pass along some ideas!)  Yet with every viewing I can't help but contemplate The Gospel implications and find (surprise, surprise!) that they are indeed hard to miss....

 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. 
- Psalm 27:10

With no parents Little Orphan Annie is consigned to live under what amounts to a slave driving task master, Miss Hannigan.   It's just thistles and thorns (Gen. 3:18) and cold mush for all the orphans living "East of Eden" who find their only comfort in their shared suffering.   Everyone seems hopeless except for Annie who displays faith fighting for the downtrodden younger orphans, rescuing the put-upon mutt, Sandy, and singing to parents she does not know but whom she hopes to meet "tomorrow".

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. - Rom 8:23

When the aptly named  "Grace", Mr. Warbucks personal assistant, arrives things take a turn.    She is the conduit of love that both saves Annie from the dreaded oppressor, Miss Hannigan, and woos the stoic Warbucks with a combination of surreptitious hints and overt pleads  for him to take Annie in, initially, and then finally, adopt her.

For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; 
it is the gift of God - Eph. 2:8

Once freed from the orphanage, the money-grubbing Rooster and the incorrigible Miss Hannigan concoct a heist.   The other half of Annie's prized locket belonged to her parents.   But unbeknownst to Annie, Hannigan, has had her ill-fated (deceased) parents' locket all along.   Locket in hand, Rooster and his lady use "a form of the truth" to try and steal Annie away from her new life and collect the reward Warbucks offers in order to find Annie's parents.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. - John 10:10

Once Annie is kidnapped Hannigan finally "comes to the end of herself" (Luke 15:17) while witnessing the terror that her crazed brother has unleashed on the little girl.   She repents and helps to foil Roosters plans.

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. - 1st John 4:4

Next Annie lands safe in the arms of her new father, Daddy Warbucks. It's implied that he and Grace will tie the knot and that Annie will now have the parents she always dreamed of having.  As the story closes there is also the feeling that with her father's heart for justice and his riches now at her disposal Annie will work to free the other orphans.   Can someone say Great Commission? (Mark 16:15)

What a universal mission it will be!  What worse fear is there than being parent-less and forlorn?   Fairy Tales often tap into the deepest recesses of childhood sub-conscious fear preparing them for the inevitably up-hill battle that is maturity.   From Hansel Gretal to Snow White to Jack and the Beanstalk the loss of or absence of a parent strikes at the heart of the human condition.

I remember the heaviest text I've ever been given to sing.   I was in seventh grade when my incomparable choir director, John Gerber, instructed me to sing a version of "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child".   It's gravitas was completely lost on me at the time but what a universal reality this is for us all at one time or another: the deepest of fears of a human laid bare in the loneliness of an orphan's cry.

Even as a Christian I sometimes operate as though I am a forlorn child left to "fend for myself", "look out for number one" and "pull myself up by my bootstraps".    This all stems from fear.  Oh for more of the indwelling Spirit that I might no longer doubt His presence within me.   The truth is, in Christ, I am never an orphan.   I will never again be alone - I have been eternally adopted!

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" - Rom 8:15

God worked one of His greatest miracles through an orphan.  In a sense, Moses was given up for adoption by his mother to save him from Pharaoh's decree that all male children be thrown into The Nile.  

Pharaoh's daughter found the baby in a basket floating along The Nile River.   The very man who would deliver God's people from Egyptian oppression was miraculously adopted and raised within the very home of his people's oppressor. Moses found that the faith of a son in His Heavenly Father was of infinitely greater power, wisdom and comfort than any physical father could ever provide

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." - Ex. 2:6

Jesus did things in a completely counter-intuitive way.   He was the Son of God who became an orphan for us.  The very fullness of the deity was pleased to dwell (Col. 2:9) in a child who was brought into this world without a physical father and to a mother who was born under (and consequently in bondage to) The Law.  It's worth considering that the only way Mary, the mother of Jesus,  could know Him for who He really was would be too allow His Lordship in her life to supersede her identification to Him as a mother.  With Abrahamic faith she had to give him up her son to God's purposes.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 
- Gal. 4:4-6

Yet ultimately it was on the cross where Christ became a true orphan, crying out, "my God, my God why have you forsaken me!".   Jesus lost His Father for us that we might be joined to our Heavenly Father for eternity.   There is hope for the tomorrow that Annie sings about because, and only because, of Jesus.   This is the effect His resurrection has bringing hope to tomorrow and peace to today.

 Just thinkin' about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs, and the sorrow 'til there's none! Tomorrow, tomorrow - bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'll be sun! - Annie, Annie


Next Week...  

* Monday Men's Lunch - Dakota's 12pm - Andrew Murray's Classic Humility discussion of chapters 1 & 2 and prayer.
* Wednesday Men's Group - Humility, Chapters 7 & 8 @ 2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm)

* The Magills - PraiseFest to Benefit Full Measure Ministries -  Saturday Oct. 1, 4pm - Tyler, TX  

* The Magills - Pine Cove Camp Marriage Conference - Saturday Oct. 1st 7pm - Tyler, TX 



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