Chances are, you’ve seen all three “Toy Story” movies, and so I’m going to take the next couple weeks to talk about them. And first is the 1995 masterpiece, “Toy Story” itself. I was three years old when “Toy Story” was released, and it may well have been the first movie I ever saw, and I love it to this day. The characters are unforgettable, the music is incredible, the story is even almost compelling—and there are a lot of themes in this movie that Christians can apply to themselves.
Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) is a toy cowboy that belongs to a boy named Andy (John Morris), and Woody encourages all of Andy’s other toys, like Hamm the piggy bank (John Ratzenburger), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Slinky Dog (Jim Varney), and Rex the dinosaur (Wallace Shawn), that even while Andy’s family is getting ready to move, they don’t have to worry, because that’s not what being a toy is about. “It doesn’t matter how much we’re played with,” Woody tells them. “What matters is that we’re here for Andy when he needs us. That’s what we’re made for, right?”
But on Andy’s birthday, in walks the new Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) space ranger toy, stealing Woody’s spot on Andy’s bed along with the admiration of all the other toys—except Woody. He tries to tell the other toys that Buzz’s laser is just a light bulb, and that Buzz cannot fly even with his plastic wings, but Buzz becomes popular nonetheless. Buzz himself cannot even see that he is just a toy—he really thinks he’s a space ranger. And in an attempt to knock Buzz under Andy’s desk to get rid of him, Woody ends up accidentally “pushing” Buzz out the window, and soon, they both end up in the dangerous hands of Sid (Erik von Detten), the kid next door who “tortures” toys for fun—like replacing body parts with other toys, giving them to his dog Scud to chew to his heart’s content, or sticking them to an explosive device, such as the case with Buzz. Soon, Buzz is stuck to a rocket awaiting his fate the next morning, with Woody trapped under a cart sitting next to him. Buzz has found out that he really is just a toy, and he doesn’t find any more purpose in his existence. Then comes the coolest conversation in the movie, when Woody is trying to encourage Buzz.
WOODY: Look, over in that house is a kid who thinks you are the greatest. And it’s not because you’re a space ranger, pal! It’s because you’re a toy. You are his toy!
BUZZ: But why would Andy want me?
WOODY: Why would Andy want you? Look at you! You’re a Buzz Lightyear! Any other toy would give up his moving parts just to be you. You’ve got wings! You glow in the dark! You talk! You are a cool toy!
Psalm 139 is an encouragement to anyone who doesn’t find purpose in his existence. The psalmist writes, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.” (139:14-16a) When I read that, I can’t believe that God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, would take time to create me specifically. He created each one of us specifically! What an encouragement!
Buzz Lightyear in “Toy Story” is going through the same struggle. He tells himself, “I’m just a toy. A stupid, little, insignificant toy.” But Woody reminds him (and ultimately convinces him) that as long as he is Andy’s toy, he has a purpose. That’s the same for the Christian believer—as long as he is trusting in and living for God, he has a purpose. My prayer for you, the reader, is that you always remember that as long as there is a God, you have a purpose, and in order to know that purpose, you need to follow Him.