[Warning: this post contains pretty big spoilers for the recent Pixar movie, Toy Story 3.]
Toy Story 3, by way of a review, is hilarious, thought-provoking, and emotionally gripping. Like its predecessors, it tells the story of Woody and friends attempting to return to their owner Andy; this time before he leaves for college and they never see him again. Together, the three movies paint a fantastic picture about finding one’s identity, correctly organizing priorities, and about what it truly means to be faithful. In short, they tell a story we’ve seen before: the gospel.
This third film starts with a desperate attempt by the toys to rekindle Andy’s affection. When it fails, they realize that playtime for them is over and prepare for long-term storage in the attic. While Andy stuffs Buzz and the others into a trash bag for the attic, however, he picks Woody to accompany him to college. Andy gets sidetracked, Mom finds the trash bag, hijinx ensue, and before you know it the toys are being shipped off to Sunnyside daycare with Woody tagging along. Woody knows that Andy didn’t mean to throw the other toys out but can’t convince them of Andy’s fidelity, nor of why they should honor their own end of the ownership.
At this point, the film present Woody and his friends with a choice. Return, against all better judgment, to their seemingly-neglectful Owner, or stay at the daycare and make generations of children happy in the years to come. While Woody turns back to Andy, Buzz, Jessie, and the others stay at Sunnyside, looking forward to new play times. However, despite their good intentions, their new residence becomes a living hell between abuse from toddlers and the oppression of Lotso Huggin, a stuffed bear who has corrupted his purpose. It takes a daring escape and an ultimate face-to-face with the furnace to see Woody and co. back to Andy in time for his departure. They return from the edge of ruin, but at the cost of lost time and immense hardship.
Like Andy’s toys, each human has a calling. We are created, put together, to honor God with our lives. Very frequently that calling is difficult, and at times it seems like God has forsaken us. We feel neglected, unused, aimless. We try in vain to get God’s attention and lose hope. We see the allure of other endeavors and start thinking about how much good we could do if only we were just free of our Owner.
The gospels tell of a man who knew his calling, his identity. He knew what God had in store for him; he knew where his path would go. His priorities never wavered. His faithfulness never faltered.
Eventually it led to his death.
Christ died as a perfect example of remaining faithful. When we find ourselves stuffed in plastic bags, locked in the attic, or separated from our Owner, we have the opportunity to be like Christ. At the end of the movie, Andy gives his toys to a new owner, a young girl named Bonnie whose imagination and exuberance are just what they have been waiting for. They are finally fulfilled as a direct result of faithfully adhering to their time with Andy. But they aren’t decommissioned or sent to some Toy Valhalla; they are simply given a new calling and a new chance to find purpose.
Until the day that we’re with Christ, our lives consist of remaining faithful to one calling until we are granted another. Luckily we have the examples of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and Jesus himself to illuminate our path.