As a little girl, Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorite all time movies. I still love it. I identify so much with Belle - with her longing for more than the mundane.
In her famous opening number, Belle belts out, “I want so much more than this provincial life.” I have definitely been in places and seasons where my heart screamed that so loudly. I have had an ache in my soul that has oozed discontentment into every part of me and clouded the way I see life.
Haven’t we all been there? Haven’t we all wanted to join Belle in her chorus?
Don’t get me wrong. I have experienced the overwhelming grace of God throughout my life.
Yet it is never my automatic reaction to recognize these victories in the everyday moments of life. Instead, I am more consumed with whatever is in front of me right now – whether it be chaos or boredom.
If I’m being really honest with you, here’s where I have too often found myself – overwhelmed by my daily to-do list and busyness, yet underwhelmed by just going through the motions to get it all done.
Why? Like Belle, I scroll through social media and wish for more. (Remember her going through all the profiles of the different people in town? Remember her comparing?)
I, too, look at others to define what life should look like for me. I see all the wonderfully filtered photos and beautifully edited captions that appear with ease. And then look back at my less glamorous life and it feels . . . weightier , and less appealing.
I want to share a story of people who weren’t happy with their own social feed, and wanted to change it up a bit. They wanted to do something to help make them look like the other nations around them.
In 1 Samuel, the children of Israel weren’t happy about how things were going, so they wanted to try it the world’s wayThey said to Samuel, “Look, you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have” (1 Samuel 8:5, emphasis mine).
The Lord warned them that this what not a good idea – not what he had planned for them. Samuel “spoke all the words of the Lord” and told them all the terrible things that would happen if they got what they were asking for (he gave a detailed list in verses 11-18).
It did no good. “But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. ‘Even so, we still want a king,’ they said. We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle” (1 Samuel 8: 19-20, emphasis mine).
They were comparing themselves to the other nations around them. And once they were done scrolling through everyone else’s feed, the children of Israel felt that they didn’t measure up. They were thirsty for validation from the world – they wanted to look just like everyone else.
Haven’t we all been there? Our lives just don’t look as wonderful when we measure them with others. That’s exactly what was going on. So they were resorting to the world’s way, longing to look like them.
The Israelites’ eyes weren’t on God or God’s work in their lives – their eyes were on their neighbors.
When I am in a vicious cycle of obsessive thinking about some struggle, insecurity or disappointment, I need help to listen to and hear His voice. I need to become truly present to my surroundings and to my God. I need to remember His goodness towards me.
I think David gave us the answer.
“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:3).
Magnify. There’s the solution to endless scrolling. To magnify is to make bigger.
Imagine using a magnifying glass like a detective - carefully hunting, searching, studying the object of your inquiring very intensely. The magnifying glass enables us to focus our eyes by increasing what we seek and, thus, decreasing the distractions. Doesn’t that sound like God’s promise to Jeremiah? “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Magnifying Him (pursuing and promoting Him) makes Him easier to be found.
N.T. Wright says, “You become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship.”
When I set my focus so much on Jesus that He becomes bigger than who or what I see around me (or on my feed), then I am equipped to thrive in my space with Him, because I become more like Him.
Sister, let’s get out our magnifying glasses and scroll over His goodness and faithfulness. Let’s promote His name and fret less about profiles. Let’s change our song from Belle’s anthem to David’s, “My eyes are fixed on you, O Lord” (Psalm 141:8).
Mika is a leader who loves volunteering in the local church. She and her husband, Josh, parent a unique combo of six kids including special needs, adopted, biological, and step children together in rural Arkansas. As a speaker and aspiring author, Mika is passionate about letting Jesus use both the miraculous and messy parts of her story to help people learn of his extravagant faithfulness and redemption. She is earning her masters degree in Evangelism and Leadership with the Propel Cohort at Wheaton College. She'd love to connect with you at www.mikaharry.com or on Instagram: @mikanicholeh.