The Iron Jesus

I just had the most tear-jerking moment in fatherhood, and in my life, thus far.

I talked Sarah (and Emerald after much rhetoric) into watching The Iron Giant together. It has been 18 years since I’d seen it and I didn’t remember much but figured it would be fun for the whole family.

— SPOILER ALERT —

I’ll reveal as little about the movie as I can, but inevitably this will give some stuff away. At the final resolution of the movie, Emerald jumped up and shouted, “He’s alive, just like Jesus!” Then she said, and I quote, “Wow, the giant died to save everyone and came back to life just like Jesus! I guess this story is just supposed to remind us of Jesus, huh?”

Sarah and I looked at each other and burst into tears. We have gone through seminary-level trainings about interpreting the gospel from mainstream artforms. I’ve read about Tolkien’s take on Christ being the “true myth” to which all other myths can’t help but point. But seeing my 3-year-old daughter put these pieces together not only put me through the emotional gauntlet, but was an awakening that Jesus reveals himself at any time, to anyone, through anything he wants.

After a few minutes of tears and worship over that experience, I had a sudden resolve to show her Jesus in everything. I want to raise her so she sees the beauty of Christ everywhere she turns her head!

I’m not trying to say my kid is better than your kid. I know she will have seasons of doubt, and probably all-out rebellion. Eventually, she’s going to, in some form, test out this world to see if it has more to offer than Jesus; if creation tastes better than the Creator. What better way to prepare her for that world than show her all the ways God’s creation, even the fallen part, can’t help but resound over and over, “Jesus is the best, and everything else is just metaphor! Jesus is the final hope behind every happy ending! There’s nothing and no one better than Jesus!”

What will she do when she wanders through darkness and keeps seeing that painted into every canvas and written into every song?

I don’t want her to only encounter Christian art. I want her to encounter Christ in all art. I will not often worry about the Christian-to-secular ratio in my daughter’s music preferences. I won’t be concerned if her favorite style of music isn’t hymns or worship songs. I will, however, worry if her thoughts about happy endings stop short of heaven. Happy endings are the most tasteless of all lies if Jesus is not alive. I will devote my next 15 years with her to making sure every Pinnochio, pumpkin, and princess come to life in the life of Jesus.

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