The Toy Story of Redemption

The Toy Story of Redemption

A Movie Review of Toy Story 3

By: Stacey Tuttle

The story of Andy’s toys, facing the uncertainty of their futures once Andy goes off to college in Toy Story 3, has a lot in common with the story of the disciples facing their uncertain future once Jesus ascended into heaven, surprisingly enough.  And as the toys battle Lotso and suffer and struggle in Sunnyside Daycare, we see striking similarities to the battles Christians face with Satan on earth.  But here, let me break it down for you so you can see what I am saying.

It all begins with the question of, “What will happen to us [the toys] once Andy is gone?”  The toys begin to fight amongst themselves as fear and jealousy set in.  “Will he take any of us with him when he goes to college?  What about Woody? What about Buzz?  Woody was his favorite, surely he’ll go?”[1]   They contemplate life with out Andy:  life in the attic or with a new owner or even in the trash and suddenly someone states the very thing they are all wondering and terribly afraid of, “Maybe Andy doesn’t care about us anymore.”  Such a horrible thought.  If they only knew he loved them, then they wouldn’t mind being in the attic quite so much.  But if he doesn’t love them anymore, it changes everything, it even redefines what they thought was true about the past.

The disciples faced similar fears several times.  When Jesus died, they were not only afraid for their own lives, but they were afraid that this man they thought was God was only mortal after all.  He was dead, right?  And then He wasn’t.  He rose again.   Oh joy!  He IS God!  He came back!  He loves us!  But wait, he said he’s leaving – leaving again.  He’s going to ascend into heaven?  Can you imagine the questions they might have asked?  If he loved us, wouldn’t he stay?  Maybe he’ll take some of us with him?  Who does he love the most?  Surely he won’t just leave us behind?[2]  But He did.  And then again, He didn’t, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

As the toys debated Andy’s leaving, it inevitably brought up questions about their purpose.  Woody, more mature and more confident in Andy’s love than the others, continually reminded the toys of their true purpose.  “This job’s not about getting played with, it’s about being there for Andy!” he reminded them.  “We have a kid, and if he wants us to join him or wants us in the attic…” Woody began, trying to petition the toys to remember that their purpose was to serve Andy, whatever his wishes.  Woody believed that despite appearances, Andy loved them—so he was willing and able to trust Andy with his future.  But for all his truth and all his encouragement, the voice of fear kept creeping in and interrupting, distracting the rest of the toys from their purpose.  The voice of fear said, “Maybe it would be better if we  didn’t need owners, we should be masters of our own fate.”  It encouraged the toys to be selfish, to look out for their own selves.  If Andy doesn’t love them, then why should they love and serve him?  Why should they do what he wants if he didn’t love them or have their best interest at heart?

After Jesus left, Christians had to battle these same issues.  While the Apostles, with their 40 days of experience with Jesus after the Resurrection, may not have had precisely these same doubts, Christians ever since have had to deal with them. We have to choose which voices we will listen to.  There are those mature voices in the faith, those who are secure in the fact that God loves them, who cry out to us, plead with us to remember that it’s not all about us, beg us to remember that it’s not about getting everything we want, but it’s about being there for others, about serving Jesus, being there when He wants to use us.  They tell us, “We have a God, and if he wants us to join Him up in heaven or wants us here on earth…if he wants us in a palace or wants us in a prison…whatever He wants, it’s our job and our joy to do it.”  These people are able to trust that, despite any appearances to the contrary, God loves them and so they can trust God with their futures and their lives.  But for all the truth and power of those voices, we still have to choose to ignore the other voices: the voices of pride which say, “We don’t need a god, we are masters of our own fate;” and those negative, fearful, nagging voices which tell us that if God left us here, he must not love us.  And if he doesn’t love us, then why should we love and serve him?  Why would we humble ourselves and do what he desires, if he doesn’t love us or have our best interests at heart?

To really complicate matters and confuse the issues, there was some miscommunication and the toys which Andy purposed for the attic, were put on the curb with the trash.  Circumstances completely confirmed their suspicions and their greatest fear:  Andy didn’t love them, he threw them away.  Of course that wasn’t the real truth.  Woody knew the real truth:  Andy DID love them.  But the toys were deceived by their circumstances.  It was at this point that their decision to no longer trust Andy with their future but to take control of their own destiny instead was made.

How often has this very thing happened to believers?  How often have circumstances, miscommunications, incomplete and false perceptions confirmed for you your suspicions and your worst fears?  Some bad thing happens and you are convinced it’s true; God doesn’t love you after all.  Of course that isn’t the real truth.  The Bible tells us the real truth:  He loves us SO much he gave his only son for us (John 3:16)!  But nevertheless, we are deceived by our circumstances and so we, like the toys, decide God cannot be trusted with our lives.  We decide to take control of our own fate.

And boy, let me tell ya, taking care of their own fate was looking pretty darn good!  Sunnyside Daycare seemed to be everything you’d expect from a daycare named Sunnyside.  The toys received a warm, wonderful welcome. They had promises of being played with to their heart’s content.  There were even repair centers to keep them in tip top shape!  And running the place was the loveable, huggable, warm and gentle Lotso.  Lotso gave them the tour, explaining how wonderful and perfect Sunnyside was.  He promised them love and care.  He promised that all the hurt and disappointment they had faced with Andy was over and they would never feel that way again.  They were going to love life at Sunnyside.

And for a time, when we as Christians take control of our own lives, things will often look just as appealing as a day at Sunnyside.   It actually seems like we will be able to make all the money we want.  We can go out and party and have all the fun we want.  We are surrounded by friends who are all having just as much fun as we are.  And taking us around, explaining to us how wonderful it is to live in control of our own lives, outside the oppression and disappointment of God (at least that’s how he presents it and we have perceived it) is this wonderful, beautiful angel dressed in light named Satan.  Just like Lotso, he promises us that all the hurt and disappointment we have faced with God was over and we will never have to feel that way again.  We are going to love life, here in this kingdom of our own making.

But it doesn’t take long before things begin to go wrong, horribly wrong.  The toys do get played with, but it is brutal.  They aren’t loved, they are abused.  The community doesn’t work together to love and support each other the way the toys were told.  Actually, they begin see that they, as the new toys, are being sacrificed while they others sit back and watch.  They realize that although Lotso “may seem plush and huggable on the outside…inside he’s a monster.”  He’s “a liar and a bully.”  And once the truth is out, all of Lotso’s niceness disappears.  He gets means.  He hurts them and lies to them and puts them down.  He tells Woody, “You think you’re special Cowboy?  You’re plastic!”  And to the others, “You’re all just trash waiting to be thrown away.”

Our story is no different.  Before long, things begin to go wrong once we’ve taken control of our own lives.  We get what we were promised, in a way, but it’s twisted and it’s brutal.  We get what we thought and hoped would be love, but find out it’s abuse.  We find that our new-found friends aren’t as supportive as we thought.  Really, they are just looking out for themselves, just as we are.  And if we have to be sacrificed for their good, they will sit back and watch.  And we find that that beautiful, angelic being dressed in light named Satan isn’t beautiful and good at all.  Inside he is a monster—the very worst monster, in fact.  He is a liar and a bully.  And just like Lotso, one the truth is out about who he is, he doesn’t even try to pretend any more.  He gets mean.  He lies to us, he hurts us, he does his best to destroy us.  He tells us we aren’t special to God, we are sinful and broken and human.  He tells us we are trash and frankly, we are inclined to believe it.  Why?  Because we know that it is true.  We are sinners.  We are broken.  We did walk away from God, why would we believe he would want us?  What good could he see in us when there is no good in us?

But there was one thing keeping the toys from despairing at Lotso’s power and his dark words.  They heard that Andy was looking for them.  Oh the joy!  Andy loves them and is looking for them!  It brought hope, courage and confidence to the toys.  It gave them the courage and determination to escape from Sunnyside and be reunited with him.  When they were finally reunited with Andy they found that it was indeed true.  Andy did love them.  Andy did want them.  And not only that, but Andy cared about their future and their well-being.  Andy gave over their care to a young girl (granted, it was at Woody’s subtle prompting, but let’s not split hairs on that!) and said, “Promise to take care of these guys.  They mean a lot to me.”

It is often in our darkest night, our most desperate plight when we, somehow or other, catch wind of the joyous truth that Jesus is looking for us!  What a joy!  What a relief!  He loves us after all!  Just that small bit of truth or even hope, that Jesus loves us, is enough to give us courage.  It’s enough to give us a confidence to refute the lies of Satan and determination to escape from the pit we are in.  And it’s so much better than Toy Story 3, because we don’t have to forge our own rescue, Jesus rescues us.  He searches for us.  He finds us.  He rescues us.  Not because there is good in us, but because there is good in Him.  Not because we are whole, but because He longs to fix our brokenness.  Not because we are without sin – we aren’t, but because he died for our sin and paid its penalty.  And not only that, but Jesus, because he loves us so, cares about our future too.  That’s why, when he left he gave us the Holy Spirit.  In a sense, he too left us in the care of someone else.  In fact, he said it would be better for us if he went (John 16:7), so that the Helper, the Holy Spirit could come to us.  Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will take good care of us, because we mean a lot to Him.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Do you know that God loves you?
  • Can you imagine how afraid the toys must have been when Andy was getting ready to leave?  How do you think the disciples must have felt when Jesus was getting ready to leave?
  • Woody said, “This job’s not about getting played with, it’s about being there for Andy.”  What would you tell another Christian your job as a Christian is all about?
  • Have your circumstances ever confirmed your fears?  About God or about something else?  Have you ever found out later that you were wrong, you didn’t see the whole picture or your misunderstood something?
  • Some of the toys thought they didn’t need owners (Andy or any other) and that they could be masters of their own fate.  What about you?  Do you think you need a parent or do you think you can be a master of your own life?  Do you think you need a God or do you think you can be a master of your own life? 
  • Have you ever had a friend or boss (or maybe it was a place or situation in your life) who appeared to be wonderful, but then was not?  Who made you promises and then turned out to be a bully and a liar?  What are some times in your life when you have bought into Satan’s lies?
  • Do you believe that Jesus looks for you and rescues you?  Has there been a time when you have seen that happen?


[1] Most quotes are direct from the movie, but these were general summations, not exact quotes.

[2] Again, these are not direct quotes.  In fact, I’m only guessing they had some of these questions, based on some things they voiced prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection on the cross and based on the kinds of questions I might have if I were in their shoes.