Until this weekend, I was likely one of the final few people who had yet to watch Tangled, the Disney movie about Rapunzel. Watching it, I was struck by how it, like so many movies, fables, and fairy tales communicate the same message: we are blinded to our real identity.
The Sun Fell from Heaven
Tangle begins with a tiny drop of sun falling from heaven with the power to heal the sick. Change the middle letter of “sun” and we have the Son of God coming down from heaven with the power to heal the sin-sick.
That drop of sun heals the Queen during childbirth. It also endues the newborn child, Rapunzel, with hair that keeps one young forever.
Satan Blinds and Binds
The evil Gothel, the Satan-figure in this story, steals baby Rapunzel at night. For eighteen years she hides Rapunzel deep in the forest in a tower. Gothel continually whispers lies to the child.
“You’re safe with me.” “I love you.” “You are precious to me.” “Only I can protect you.” “The world out there is unsafe.” “I am your mother.” “You belong to me.”
So like the serpent in the garden. Blinding and binding.
Claiming God is a shalt-not God. Claiming God is a hoarder. Claiming God is untrustworthy—that God does not have a good heart.
So like Satan. Blinding us to our true identity as children of the King. Binding us in chains of lies until we no longer remember who we are nor Whose we are.
My Chains Fell Off
But then (like the two greatest words in the English language—“But God”), her chains fell off, her heart was free. Through the unlikely intervention of the scoundrel Flynn Rider, Rapunzel remembers.
Stunned, she remembers her true identity. “I am the lost Princess!” “I am the daughter of the King!”
Remembering, she realizes how she has been used and abused by Gothel. She and Flynn sing words that powerfully portray how foolishly blind we were under Satan. In a song appropriately entitled I See the Light, they sing:
All those days watching in the windows, all those years outside looking in.
All that time never even knowing just how blind I’ve been.
Now I’m here blinking in the starlight; now I’m here suddenly I see.
Standing here it’s all so clear; I’m where I’m meant to be.
And at last I see the light, and it’s like the fog has lifted.
And at last I see the light, and it’s like the sky is new.
And it’s warm and real and bright, and the world has somehow shifted.
All at once everything looks different now that I see you.
Though singing to and about each other, I hear in their song the echoes of truth from eternity past. Truth about Christ and truth about who we are in Christ.
He left His Father’s throne above, so free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love, and bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free, for O my God, it found out me!
Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
When we at last see the light of the Son of God, we remember. We recall that we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we may declare the praise of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
We Drink from So Many False Fountains
In our endless attempt to find meaning, to find purpose, to find our true identity; we drink from endless cisterns. Jeremiah calls them “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
Rather than turning to God the Spring of Living Water; we turn to the world, the flesh, and the devil in futile attempts to discover who we are and Whose we are. We’re clueless to just how blind we’ve been. Blinded, we have no idea that the False Lover of our soul doesn’t love us one iota.
Set Free by Love
When we finally refuse to buy the lie, when we’re set free by the light of the Son, everything changes. We no longer live to find out who we are. We now live in light of Whose we are—children of the King.
“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:15-17).
Rapunzel and Flynn, living new lives aware of their true identity, no longer live for self. Their frantic search for self ended; they now live for each other and for the good of the Kingdom. Each is willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice to save the other.
As a result, the kingdom is restored. Celebration. Grace and wisdom. No more crime.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ (Revelation 21:1-4).
Identity Lost and Found
We can’t go to the world’s Lost and Found Department if we expect to find our identity that comes from another realm. We must go to the Word’s Lost and Found Department to discover and uncover what’s been true all along.
We are given our true identity by grace through faith in Christ. It is the gift of God, not by works, lest anyone should boast.
Nothing the world has to offer—none of the broken cisterns, none of the false lovers of the soul—will ever provide true shalom. Peace that passes understanding comes when the light of the truth shines in our souls and we realize that we are sons and daughters of the God of Peace.
Join the Conversation
Where are you turning to discover who you are and Whose you are?