What Simba Taught Me in Mandarin


Months ago I sent Ali her birthday present, and within it were two tickets for The Lion King Musical, which takes stage over here in Shanghai at the Walt Disney Grand Theater. Ali had seen this play a couple times on Broadway back home in the States, but this was the musical I have wanted to see since I was a Simba-shirt-wearing tike who had his parents rewind and replay The Lion King over and over and over and over and over and over again. The stars had never aligned to give me the chance to see this play but last week, I got my chance. The only catch? The entire play is in Mandarin!!! Yup, we paid near Broadway prices to go see one of my favorite stories in a language I know about 15 words in.

But to tell you the truth it was awesome, I could not understand the lines but I sang out loud to all the songs I knew in English, yup I am that guy.

I mean do you really need to know the language to understand that a wildebeest stampede or that when all the animals are walking through the theater for a circle of life moment are powerful? Was there anything else I needed to understand that when Mufasa lie down on the floor after saving his son that he was never coming home again?

But by far the most powerful moment in the play for me required no words at all. It was the moment where Simba approached pride rock for the first time as The Lion King at the very end of the show. This moment has no words in any language but it is obvious what is going on…

The circle of life is being fulfilled, but more than that Simba is finally stepping into the identity already purchased for him by the death of his Dad.

You see, Simba DOES NOT become king when he steps onto the big fake rock, he became King the moment his dad Mufasa gave his life. But out of fear, guilt, and shame he ran away from his proverbial throne and stayed in exile while Scar mascaraed as King, but was really just a poser.

Even Simba’s long distance girlfriend Nala knows its true. In that scene where they are wrestling around in the jungle she sings, “为什么会不是他,我知道他是王者?王我看到里面?” If you couldn’t read that I will translate… “Why won’t he be the king I know he is? The King I see Inside?”

How often is that me?

Running away in fear, striving to earn my way back to God, all the while He doesn’t call me names like failure or wimp but instead calls me son.

Isn’t that crazy? The God of the Universe calls me his son. Paul writes in Romans 8:15, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

I can call the Creator my Dad. But why?

Because He died and was trampled on by His own creation to take my mistakes, my burden, my sins and putting them on His own shoulders through God in the flesh, Jesus.

The title I deserved was enemy of God because of the way I have abused others, lived selfishly, gave into temptation. But because of Jesus I am called Son.

Which makes me a Prince in the eyes of God, and if you are in Christ than you are Prince or Princess, much more real than a Disney one and even more real than the kinds that still live in Castles or high rise penthouses.

But I often don’t feel very prince-like. I still feel enslaved, but Paul assured me that no matter what I feel inside the Spirit I have received does not put chains on me but instead puts a crown over my head and asks me to go and tell other ragamuffins like myself that they are being adopted as well!!!

So whether I feel like a failure, ruled by my constant anxiety I do not have to wait until I step onto Pride Rock to realize my sonship, I simply have to trust the word of the Word of my Dad who tells me I am His Beloved son.

You want to know the beautiful part?

He says it in a language each of can understand if we have our ears open to listen!!!