Warning: Minor Moana Spoilers
By all accounts the newest feature from Disney Animated Studios, Moana, is a huge success. The movie has gotten extremely positive feedback from children as well as the adults who take them. One of the real standout strengths of the film is the soundtrack. The musical numbers are well composed catchy songs that fans have come to expect from an animated Disney movie. However, the lyrical quality and thematic integration of these songs seems to be a cut above most. All of the songs from the feature “How Far I’ll Go” to the whimsical “You’re Welcome” further the overall storyline while exploring the deeper theme of the film. At its heart Moana is all about the concept of discovering and knowing who you are. Exploring this theme makes Moana more than just a forgettable kid’s movie. “Who am I?” is one of the great existential questions, and Moana delves deep into that question in a very accessible way.
The title character wrestles with this question as she struggles with a pull to the open ocean and the responsibility of being a future leader. In the song “How Far I’ll Go” she sings: “See the line where the sky meets the sea it calls me/ And no one knows, how far it goes/ If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me/ One day I'll know, if I go there's just no telling how far I'll go.”
The use of the word call is prominent in many of the songs Moana sings. This word really stood out to me, because when she sings about how the sea calls her, I deeply understood that feeling. I am ordained clergy in the United Methodist church. One of the aspects of the ordination process is probing, questioning and ensuring the candidate feels called to ministry. The call to ministry is very similar to Moana’s call to the sea. This calling is an undeniable, sometimes unexplainable urge that cannot be ignored. The prophet Jeremiah did a good job at defining how this calling feels. Jeremiah 20:9 states, “His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”
The Bible is full of people being called. Some, like Moses at the burning bush, are reluctant. Others, like when Mary was visited by the angel, are faithful and willing. Those who are called often give up a lot to follow the calling. A good example of this are the disciples. Jesus called to them “follow me”. They did even though they had no idea just how far they would go. This idea of being called is an intrinsic part of following Jesus as Lord and savior.
The fourth chapter of Ephesians states: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Paul then goes on to write in that chapter, “to each of one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” A big deal tends to be made about being called to vocational ministry, but the truth is all followers of Christ are called. We all have gifts and graces apportioned to us. We all have a unique way that we can serve God and help bring about the heavenly kingdom on earth.
There are no shortage of spiritual gift inventories, tests, and books that will assist you in figuring out what kind of purpose God has for your life. Those can be helpful, but I am not always sure they are necessary. Whatever we are called to, calls us. It is a yearning deep in our spirits. It is a holy discontent that can only be satisfied by fulfilling our calling. It is a fire shut up in our bones. Our calling is very rarely revealed through a multiple choice test. It is found when we quiet the distractions of the world and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit tugging at our heart.
May you seek God, and may you seek what you are called to. May you pursue your calling with reckless abandon. Because if you are in step with the spirit and fulfilling your calling then there is no telling how far you’ll go.