‘To the One who remembered us in our low estate - His love endures forever.’ Psalm 136:23

Did you see ‘The Greatest Showman’ - the story of P T Barnum, who founded the first travelling circus in America in the 19th Century. A wonderfully uplifting film!

Apart from the great songs and feel-good factor, what leapt out at me was the stark contrast between the well-heeled members of the establishment, clinging onto the position they had created for themselves as the in-crowd; compared with the freaks and no-hopers, who formed the acts for the first circus. They had no position to protect.

Winners and losers. Or so it appeared.

The turning point of the film comes when Barnum stops trying to ‘make his name’ with the in-crowd - meeting none other than Queen Victoria and promoting a sell out concert tour with the famous opera singer, Jenny Lind - and focusses instead on the people he has recruited to make up his circus.

When his ‘losers’ start to realise who they are, and what they have - their identity - that’s when they start to become ‘winners’. The song 'Come Alive’ speaks of the realisation of something deep within; … ’dreaming with your eyes wide open’ … ‘breaking free.’

And when the considerably oversized and bearded (yes, bearded) leading lady of the circus sings ’This is Me’, she is discovering her true identity. A poignant and beautiful moment.

Psalm 136 tells the story of how God led His people through the wilderness - where they were a rabble on the move for 40 years - striking down great kings to allow them to move into the land of their inheritance, Canaan - The Promised Land, where they were to discover their true identity as the provided-for People of God. (By the way, one of God’s names in the Old Testament was: Jehovah Jireh meaning ‘God will provide’.)

Can you see the similarity here between the Circus people and God’s people? (The image is of my home church - which looks a bit like a Big Top!) … each discovering that their identity is not to be found in what others are saying, but by realising who they have been made to be - in God’s image.

And God can do something similar in our lives today - if we will lay down our insecurities, let Him help us to break out of the ghettoes we get stuck in … and follow Him into the inheritance He has prepared for us. ‘For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’ Ephesians 2:10.

And when we share our story with others, we shouldn’t be saying how great we are; rather, pointing to how our Saviour God has, in the imagery of the prophet Isaiah, called us out of darkness and into his glorious light.

There’s a lot more to be said around what God has done to move us from being losers to winners, including our own preparedness to be transformed, but that’s for another day.

Simon Ward
March 2018

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