My favorite Disney cartoons of the past few years have been the ones about close family relationships. The “What are we going to do today?” question of Phineas & Ferb wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable without the genuine affection their sister Candace and their parents had for the inventive kids. Gravity Falls‘ weird and wonderful adventures would have been nothing without the incredible familial bond between Dipper, Mabel, and their Grunkle Stan. (I love this show so much, I even have an entire Vacation Bible Camp themed around it.)
Of the two, Phineas & Ferb speaks more dearly to my heart. For 104 days of summer vacation, Phineas and his less talkative brother Ferb would ask a question (“What are we going to do today?”) and then set out to answer it in the most engaging, life-changing way possible. Across its many seasons, the brothers and their friends engaged in incredible adventures each day of their summer break, making the most of every opportunity.
This isn’t a Disney idea. This is a God idea. The apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:16 that we needs to “Make the most of every opportunity” because we live in evil days. He writes frequently about running the race set before us, going after the prize, and not wasting the moments we are given. God did not create us to rest or wait or just be lazy. Like Phineas, He looks at you and asks, “So, what are you going to do today?” And by today, He means, your life: what are you going to do with it?
Phineas and Ferb built a rollercoaster. They flew to space, formed a band, bounced around the world, and frequently asked “Hey, where’s Perry?” And every time they were asked, “Aren’t you a little young to be….?” they answered, “Yes. Yes, we are.” But that doesn’t stop them. Like Paul says to Timothy: “Don’t be looked down upon because you are young! Be an example for the believers…” (1 Timothy 4:12)
The brothers set an example for all of us to be all that God created us to be. Don’t waste a moment. Don’t rest on your laurels. Don’t get comfortable. Just because what you did yesterday was great doesn’t mean you can’t do something even better tomorrow. Every bit of time given to you is the same bit of time given to Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Sister Theresa, Marie Curie, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, JK Rowling–you get the idea.
Phineas and Ferb reminds us of this in several musical moments throughout the show. My favorites come from two different songs. The first is “Summer Belongs to You,” where the brothers manage to get their sister and friends around the world in one incredible day. Singing a song to sum it up, Candace sings these words:
Don’t waste a minute sitting on that chair
The world is calling you, just get out there
You can see forever so your dreams are all in view
Summer belongs to you!
Wise words from a cartoon sister. What are you waiting for? You don’t have to be an adult to make a difference. Start today. Ask yourself, “What am I going to do today?”
Still need motivation? In the episode, Rollercoaster: The Musical, the entire cast sings a song that sums up my entire motivation, and my hope for every child I’ve ever had the privilege of leading. The song harks back to a favorite film of my college years, Dead Poets Society. The song is called “Carpe Diem,” which is Latin for “Seize the Day.” Give it a listen.
So, if I have anything left to say to kids after talking with them 3 times a weekend for 8 years, it’s this: go be all that God created you to be. You are not defined my your age, by your family, your size, or anything else. God created you for something amazing. You can trust Him no matter what, and He gave you everything you need.
You don’t need to be a children’s pastor. You don’t need to build a roller coaster.
Every day’s a brand new day, so carpe diem.