If you haven’t already done so, find your way to Finding Dory, the long-awaited sequel to Pixar’s 2003 classic Finding Nemo. Hearing rave reviews, Bobber Bill and I finally found time to catch this box office hit for ourselves. Finding a mostly empty movie theater in Sauk Centre on a rainy night, we found Dory … and a whole lot more!
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not yet seen Finding Dory, go see the movie then come back and read this CONNECT blog.
There’s much to enjoy about this cute fish tale. In finding Nemo, it’s a clownfish father looking for a lost son. In Dory, it’s an adorable blue tang trying to find her parents. Beset by a severe case of short-term memory loss, Dory’s ventures involve a number of flashback moments that contribute to her adventurous and comical journey home.
Like Dory’s unplanned drift into the dreaded undertow, we, too, are swept into the drama. As parents ourselves, we alternately agonized and celebrated with every turn, cheering for that inevitable happy reunion.
Now back to the story. After years of separation and much searching, the now grown-up Dory becomes distracted by a pretty purple shell partially covered in the sand. Suddenly…wonderfully…she sees another shell … and another … and another! Wait? Didn’t her mom love purple shells? Could this be the way home? (Tension mounts as the music intensifies!)
It was the next scene that left me completely undone. In a beautiful widescreen shot of the ocean floor with a little conch house in the center, paths of shells lead out like spokes of a wheel in every conceivable direction. Following one line of shells, Dory swims to a house … her house! But, how sad! The conch home is silent! And then the Kleenex box moment happened.
At just that moment, Dory’s tired-looking parents swim into the picture, carrying yet another armload (fin-load!!) of shells. As it turns out, this mom and dad have spent every waking moment over all these years laying shell after shell across the ocean floor. They had but one hope: that their precious and forgetful Dory would someday see the shells and be reminded of her way back home.
I sobbed. Ok, I know. It’s just a movie, and an animated movie at that! Maybe it hit me harder because only days before we transitioned my dementia-stricken mom back to a nursing home in South Dakota.
My very first thought was this verse from Psalm 16: “LORD, you have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (More tissues, please!)
Like Dory, I forget a lot of things. But what I know with absolute certainly is this: Our good and loving God continually calls us to draw near to Him. In His written Word, through His Son the living Word, and in the handiwork of creation, He has provided every conceivable way for us to know Him. The promise of Scripture is clear: our Good Shepherd is not far off, but very near to those who seek Him. And for those who do, there is the ultimate reward: we find Him. In His presence is fullness of joy, unfailing kindness, secure relationship, personal identity, and a love that never abandons or quits.
For all of us, it is so easy to get caught up in the undertow of life and carried away by waves of doubt and insecurity, distracted by the temporary trappings of this world. We, too, suffer from a sort of spiritual memory loss, forgetting who He is and whose we are. But God calls us to a deeper destiny. He stops at nothing to guide us back to the path leading to fullness of joy, eternal blessings, and a life that is truly life … with Him!
So, when life overwhelms us and shakes our moorings, we can and must REMEMBER and SEEK for Him. And when we find Him, we discover a loving Heavenly Father that has never stopped looking for us.
So, just keep swimming!
– Lisa Abeler