We’ve been discussing The Sound of Music and the “life lessons” which all dreamers, creators, and people in general, can take from this 1965 Academy Award-winning musical.
In the movie, Maria is an unconventional and often annoying novice at an Austrian abbey. But despite her unconventionality, the Sisters have loved, accepted, and patiently prayed for Maria. The Mother Superior has even acted as a “Barnabas” (supporter/friend/facilitator; see Acts 9:26-31) to the novice; but this wise servant of God is beginning to suspect that, to quote one of the songs in the movie, “a problem like Maria” may not be suited or destined to life as a nun; that in fact, God’s purpose and plan for Maria may lie outside the convent.
Mother Superior knows that you can’t hold a “moonbeam” in your hand. Likewise, you shouldn’t try to restrain a person’s individuality, discourage their dreams, or crush their creativity. And although God wants us all to be actively involved in His “work,” there are many different ways in which we can serve Him.
Pastors, priests, rabbis, teachers, and other spiritual leaders would do well to encourage their congregants to also seek “ministry” beyond the four walls of local church or synagogue. The world needs Godly educators, politicians, scientists, artists, entertainers, and others who can take the life-altering message of the Scriptures to the masses. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14 NIV) As such, God desires that we illuminate the way for others, by our example and influence. And face it, there are far more opportunities to “light the way” outside the familiarity and security of our faith communities.
Light shines the brightest in the presence of darkness. (See John 1:5) Partly for this reason, and partly because of Maria’s abundant enthusiasm and unique talents, the Mother Superior asks her novice to serve as governess to the children of the recently widowed (and rather stuffy and severe) Captain Von Trapp.
At first Maria objects. Her new task is more than a little daunting, and Maria would much rather remain within the safe and familiar confines of the abbey. She is adamantly against the idea of working outside the convent, and makes all kinds of excuses and promises to do better. Truth is, like so many dreamers and creators, Maria has grown accustomed to staying in her “comfort zone” and doesn’t feel she’s up to stretching her wings and expanding her horizons.
Most of us can relate. Change is difficult. Change can even be scary. But change is necessary for physical, spiritual and intellectual growth. Oftentimes people will do everything in their power to avoid change, even when they sense, deep in their hearts, that something better awaits them — outside of their familiar surroundings and trusted routines.
Fear of the unknown can be emotionally crippling. It can limit our choices and opportunities, stifle of creativity and cause us to stall in the pursuit of our dreams. But our Heavenly Father has an antidote for fear: His LOVE, combined with our faith, reinforced by the Word of God.
“God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” (1 John 4:18 NLT)
“You have already won a victory … because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NLT)
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” (Jeremiah 31:3 ESV) “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NLT)
Despite Maria’s pleas to be allowed to remain in the convent, the Mother Superior is firm. Like a mother eagle, she nudges her nestling from the familiar surroundings of the abbey, in the hopes that Maria will find her “wings” and take flight — that the young woman will become all that God intended her to be. This is a prime example of TOUGH LOVE, and it’s precisely what’s needed when dealing with people who find themselves at a crossroads, who need to make hard choices, and who need a gentle but FIRM push forward.
The Apostle Paul states, “…We will no longer be infants, tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind…. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ….” (Ephesians 4:14-15 Berean SB)
Are you still searching for your “One Thing”? (See Philippians 3:13) Have you found yourself at a crossroads, needing to make difficult and perhaps painful decisions? Do you feel as if you’re life has been turned upside down due to tragic circumstances; that your dream is dead and your “life is over”?
Or are you in a situation similar to the one Maria was in, at the beginning of The Sound of Music — not exactly where God wants you to be; or not doing what He designed you for? Do you feel your gifts and talents are more suited to other pursuits? Or that perhaps something better is awaiting you outside of your comfort zone?
Listen to Godly counsel! That’s what Maria did, and it changed her life for the best (God’s best). Even though she didn’t want to leave the safety of the convent, in order to assume new tasks and new challenges in new — and strange — environments, she nevertheless submitted to the wisdom and authority of her spiritual leader, which took great humility. Remember, Maria always wanted to be a nun. Furthermore, she was convinced that her Heavenly Father had called her specifically to this kind of service. Quite a miscalculation, wouldn’t you agree?
Maria could have refused and rebelled. Instead, she listened and heeded — to the sound advice of a Godly person. In so doing, she found her true calling and God’s best for her life. Which serves as a great lesson for all of us: “…Place yourselves under the authority of spiritual leaders. Furthermore … serve each other with humility, because God opposes the arrogant but favors the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5 GW)
Of course, the Mother Superior didn’t let Maria fly from the nest without first giving her some sound advice — in a memorable song, no less! We’ll share both the song and its life-changing message next session.