How many of you have seen Tangled?
I’m a third grade teacher, so keeping up with children’s movies is sort of a hobby of mine.
In the movie Tangled, Rapunzel is locked in a tower and never gets to leave. Her “mother” says it is for her protection, but Rapunzel doesn’t care. She has a desire to see the floating lights!
She paints them on the walls, thinks about them, sings about them; she’s kind of obsessed with them, right? These lights come once a year, but she thinks about them all day, every day.
So for her birthday she decides what she wants most is to go see the lights out in the world, not from her tower. She isn’t concerned with anything else outside of her tower, just the lights.
Today I want to point out some people who are much like Rapunzel. The people of Israel, when enslaved in Egypt are much like her. You see, Rapunzel is obsessed with the floating lights and Israel is obsessed with God’s promise to deliver them to a promise land (Exodus 6:2-5). Rapunzel does leave the tower (without her mother’s permission, which I do not advice) just as the Israelites do leave Egypt (Exodus 13:17). But the first time Rapunzel experiences something “bad” she wanted to go right back to her tower.
When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and left slavery behind they found themselves in the Desert of Shur…without water…for three days!
The Israelites began to complain and grumble (Exodus 15:22-24) just as Rapunzel did.
Rapunzel was baffled at what the world had besides her beautiful floating lights (and not all of it was good) and Israel was missing their so called comfortable living conditions where water and food were supplied each day. But they both continued on.
Rapunzel then meets some men she really didn’t like and is ready to high tail it home. The floating lights aren’t worth it. She is done!
Israel begins to feel hungry and complain to Moses, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exodus 16:3). Now Israel doesn’t follow Rapunzel’s lead here. They stick it out, but they were ready to quit. They were saying that Egypt was better than what God had planned for them. They were saying that slavery was better than God’s provisions. They were obsessed with the comfort of meals being supplied to them.
Here’s the problems. They were OBSESSED. They had their blinders on. They could only see their obsession. Rapunzel was so focused on the floating lights she didn’t think about what else she might have to face in the world. She didn’t think about what other wonderful things the world might have to offer her.
The Israelites were so focused on first the promise of God and then the comfort of food and water, they didn’t think about God providing for them, or freedom, or trusting in the God they prayed to.
The worst part? Neither of them thought about what else God had to offer them. Rapunzel didn’t think about what the world had outside her tower that was beyond her floating lights. The Israelites didn’t think about everything that God could give them above and beyond manna and water. They were so obsessed; they didn’t even realize there was more to life than floating lights and meals.
I must confess that I have had many obsessions in my life. The one I want to focus on today is beauty. You see, middle school was hard for me. I had frizzy hair and a mother who didn’t know what a straightener was. I had braces and the bands to fix a slight over bite. I had glasses and two different skin conditions that made my face look as if it were always broken out. My mother thought she was fashionable and bought most of my clothes, and well…you can imagine it right?
I wasn’t popular. I wasn’t cute. I wasn’t anything.
All I wanted was to be pretty. I wanted shiny hair and clear skin. I wanted beautiful clothes and some tiny curves for by board straight body. I began to buy fashion magazines. I began to watch America’s Next Top Model. I began to study how other girls walked and talked, and stood. I began to be obsessed with being pretty. No, not pretty. Beautiful!
I wanted boys to notice me. I wanted people to compliment my outfits and I wanted to be as beautiful as the models in my magazines.
Middle school passed and high school brought a wonderful turn of events. Or should I say a beautiful turn? My skin cleared up. I learned how to wear make-up. I bought a straightener and carried a purse to hold my glasses. My braces were removed and I started spending more time shopping with my mom. People began to notice me, and it wasn’t because I dropped my books in the hallway. I was getting compliments about my smile and hair. Boys were talking to me and asking for my number (which I didn’t not give out, because I didn’t have a cell phone and my dad would have killed me if a boy had called the house for me before I was old enough to date). I began to stare at myself in the mirror, not because I was disgusted, but because I was beautiful.
Obsessed? Absolutely! At first, I liked being beautiful. But that changed.
Soon I noticed that people would talk to me, but they wouldn’t want to get to know me. I was a pretty face, but no one knew that I was smart, or talented, or a great Christian girl.
You see, I was a shy person. I still am, at times. But in high school, I would walk the halls and if I didn’t see someone I knew, I would just walk. No smile. No friendly expression. You may still not get it. I was a dancer. I danced for 15 years. I walked with my back straight, head held high, and with a purpose. This combination made for a very snobby appearance.
Soon people thought I was a snob. They wouldn’t talk to me, they would talk about me. They didn’t get to know me, but thought they knew me. “Oh she thinks she’s better than everyone.”
I was tall, thin, and beautiful. I was shy. This combination made it even more difficult for people to see past my obsession.
My obsession, became the only thing that people saw in me. I was just beautiful.
I realized that beauty didn’t make me happy. What I thought in middle school would fix everything, hadn’t fixed anything. It just changed what I disliked about myself. Now I couldn’t stand that people wouldn’t see past my face.
I had been raised in church and my parents were always giving me Godly advice and turning me towards Him. They turned me to 1 Peter 3:3-4. “Your beauty should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Beauty on the outside was of no eternal value. It would fade. It has faded. But beauty of the inner self is unfading beauty. It is in a gentle and QUIET spirit.
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This revelation led to a new desire to know God. I wanted to find a best friend in Him. I wanted to be consumed with the Creator of all things rather than with the things created. I wanted to have unfading beauty.
I began to study God’s word and spend a great deal of my time in pray and worship with Him. I learned that an obsession with beauty gave me no response, but an obsession with God gave me more love and comfort than I had ever known. I knew that no matter what came my way, I could make it because I had Him.
God gifted me with so much more than beauty ever could. God supplied a great deal of friends to me. He supplied talents that allowed me to teach young girls about Him as well as to praise Him with dance. God led me to a young man that eventually became my husband.
Like Rapunzel, and the Israelites, I was too focused on my obsession. I didn’t see that God had more in store for me than beauty. The world had more in store for Rapunzel than the floating lights; she had real parents to love her and guide her. God had more in store for the Israelites than food and water; they had a God who would provide and lead them to the Promise Land. Don’t become Tangled in your own obsessions. Let God give you all He has in store for you.
When I was 16 I met a boy. He was 18 at the time and very tall (this was important). I had been on a few dates, but nothing serious (I had a list of what I wanted in a husband, and I didn’t date someone unless I thought they could meet everything on my list). This boy talked to me at youth on Wednesday night, but it wasn’t until a Dare to Share trip that we really talked. We flirted with one another and by the end of the trip we exchanged phone numbers. I liked this boy and we dated for quite a while. He told me later on that the only reason he talked to me was because I was pretty. He also told me that after a few months of dating me, he realized there was more to me that a skinny body and pretty face. After six years of dating that very tall boy who only talked to me because I was pretty became my husband. I love him very much, but there are times when I wonder if my obsession from years before hindered or helped our relationship in the beginning.
Sometimes I wonder if my obsession kept God from blessing me with something greater.
There’s a little fable about a Mr. Jones who dies and goes to heaven. Peter is waiting at the gates to give him a tour. Amid the splendor of golden streets, beautiful mansions, and choirs of angles that Peter shows him, Mr. Jones notices an odd-looking building. He thinks it looks like an enormous warehouse—it has no windows and only one door. But when he asks to see inside, Peter hesitates. “You really don’t want to see what’s in there,” he tells the new arrival. Why would there be any secrets in heaven? Jones wonders. What incredible surprise could be waiting for me in there? When the official tour is over he’s still wondering, so he asks again to see inside the structure. Finally Peter relents. When the apostle opens the door, Mr. Jones almost knocks him over to his haste to enter. It turns out that the enormous building is filled with row after row of shelves, floor to ceiling, each stacked neatly with white boxes tied in red ribbons. “These boxes all have names on them,” Mr. Jones muses aloud. Then turning to Peter he asks, “Do I have one?” “Yes, you do.” Peter tries to guide Mr. Jones back outside. “Frankly,” Peter says, “if I were you…” But Mr. Jones is already dashing toward the “J” aisle to find his box. Peter follows, shaking his head. He catches up with Mr. Jones just as he is slipping the red ribbon off his box and popping the lid. Looking inside, Jones has a moment of instant recognition, and he lets out a deep sigh like the ones Peter has heard so many times before. Because there in Mr. Jones’s white box are all the blessings that God wanted to give to him while he was on earth…but Mr. Jones had never asked. (Prayer of Jabez, pages 25-27)
Who knows what Mr. Jones was obsessed about while on earth, but I know that I don’t want to miss the blessings God has for me because I’m obsessed with beauty, or perfection, or a certain jean size. I want my life on earth to be filled with every blessing that God is willing to give me.
You see, God can give out what can never be taken away. His acceptance. His comfort. His provision. But the happy feeling you get from not eating a meal, or putting on clothes that may show too much skin will be temporary . Your obsession may bring you happiness, but it will fade.
One of my favorite quotes is from a book called Made to Crave. “You are a precious creation of God, lovingly crafted by the Master’s hand. You need to sit at the feet of a great and glorious Father God and hear Him say, “My daughter, you are worthy of being loved—not because of the personality, charm, or sense of humor that I have given you, but because you are so precious to me that I died for you.” God just wants you to put Him in the number one spot. He wants to be first. He wants you to be obsessed—with Him.
I want you to crave God’s voice. Be obsessed with his truth. Dive into His word and shine His light.
I want each of you to learn to “Delight yourself in the Lord” because “He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalms 37:4). I want you to leave your obsession with becoming skinnier, and more beautiful, or shopping, or perfection and become obsessed with the almighty God. You were made to “Love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27). God created you to crave, want, desire, think about, and long for something—for Him. You were made to be obsessed with God.