Northstar Presents At The Movies – Saving Mr. Banks
Movies have a way of communicating unlike any other art form. In them, we find powerful stories of the human experience—an experience often marked by intersection with the divine. Whether filmmakers know it or not, God’s fingerprints can be found all over their stories. We’ll take some of the most popular films through the month of August and uncover some of God’s truths for our lives. But this is not a lightweight series where we take a break from talking about serious biblical stuff and have a little fun. I think it is the opposite.
The first movie we will look at is Saving Mr. Banks. Walt Disney surely didn’t expect that his promise to his kids to make a movie of their favorite book would turn out to be such a challenge. It took twenty years simply to get an audience with the author of Mary Poppins, Mrs. Travers. Walt Disney and his team worked hard to win her over with their vision for the story transported to the silver screen, but Mrs. Travers was exceedingly difficult. Saving Mr. Banks isn’t just a movie about how Walt finally won over Mrs. Travers. It’s bigger than that. It’s a story about making peace with the past, about healing and about understanding and forgiving.
Something To Talk About:
There are several lessons we can learn from Saving Mr. Banks.
- Letting go of the past: Mrs. Travers had been disappointed by all the adults in her life as a child, and she never got over it. She was scared to trust anyone in general, but more importantly, she was scared to trust anyone with her story. Mary Poppins was the story she wrote out of the pain of her past, trying to make sense of her past, hoping to redeem those she loved in her past. And she didn’t think she could trust Walt Disney to do that well. What about us? Can we see some of Mrs. Travers in ourselves? Can we let go of the past? Isaiah 43: 18-19 says, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
- Finding Forgiveness: Taking the pain of the past and making something beautiful of it all—this is what Walt and Mrs. Travers both wanted to do with their stories. And it is what God wants for each of us as well. Hebrews 12:2 reminds us that Jesus is “…the founder and perfecter of our faith…” The question is whether, we are reluctant to fully trust God with our stories. We are desperately trying to find healing and peace, and God is asking us to trust Him with it. Jesus has felt our pain. He took the ultimate pain and suffering and made something beautiful out of it. He can do the same for us.
- Trusting God: Walt Disney slowly wins Mrs. Traver’s trust. God is patiently waiting for us to trust Him, to rewrite our story and let all the twists and turns in the plot go. Walt Disney tells Mrs Travers that this is what writers do, we restore hope. God restores hope. God can take anything and use it for your good (Romans 8:28). So give God your story. He will “give you a future and a hope.”
- Who do you think you are more like—Mrs. Travers or Walt Disney? If your answer is Mrs. Travers, what lessons did you learn from this movie that might help you to let go of the past?
- Do you think Mrs. Travers ever expected or wanted her story to have a happy ending? Why or why not? Do you believe your story will not have a happy ending? Why or why not?
- Is there someone who has deeply disappointed or hurt you? How have you attempted to deal with that pain? How well has your approach worked? How can you develop a more effective way to deal with the past, as well as your present and future with that person?
- Do you trust God with your story? Why or why not?
- What would it take for you to be willing and able to trust God with your story?
Take One Thing Home with You
Problem or possibility?
“But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26. If I asked you “do you have any problems,” what would your answer be? Most people would say they do. They are a part of life. We learned the problems of Mrs. Travers during the course of the movie Saving Mr. Banks. The question is what do we do when facing those problems? Because, as Christians, we have a relationship with God that gives us insight, wisdom, and power to see an opportunity in every difficulty. Can we see the possibilities rather than the problems or limitations?
I talk about vision quite a bit. My definition of vision is understanding the potential of what could be done for God as well as creating the excitement and motivation to see it become a reality. As Christians we need to understand that our Lord Jesus has placed us here strategically to be salt and light, and to see the possibilities that God gives us, we need to trust God; regardless of what is going on yesterday, today or tomorrow in our lives. Leaning on the power of the Holy Spirit will enable us to to see the possibilities and seize the opportunities God gives us. The Bible says we’re to take advantage of today by capitalizing on opportunities. Be alert to the possibilities each day brings.
Romans 8:312 reminds us that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The Bible is full of stories of people who trusted God while looking lions in the mouth and chasing armies with torches and trumpets and faced grave injustice only to discover a God who honored His word and brought dreams to fruition and saved nations. “Jesus said, ‘No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.’” (Luke 9:62 MSG)