King Moon Racer is a majestic, fierce-but-gentle winged lion in our 1964 film and the master of the island of misfit toys. Not only does he care deeply for all the outcasts who live in his care, he spends each night flying about the entire world, seeking out any other lost and lonely toys. Upon finding these exiles, he retrieves and brings them to the island; offering them a home, camaraderie, and a destiny beyond isolation. Just as he searches for these isolated playthings, he likewise endeavors to find children who will love and play with each toy. Once he has located such a home, he then delivers the plaything into this new-found setting.
I know what you may be thinking: this sounds like someone else I know of. An Advocate Who, out of love and compassion, seeks out the lost and hurting and redeems them into a new life of belonging and hope. If this is the conclusion you leaped to, then—spoiler alert—allow us to inform you that you are correct. King Moonracer is an obvious parallel for the Lion of Judah. Or, perhaps, one would compare him to Aslan of the Chronicle of Narnia. Ultimately, he makes a great representation of Jesus the Savior: the Defender of the helpless, the Life-Giver to the dying, the Friend to the forgotten, and the Champion of the outcast.
King Moonracer is an iconic character because he epitomizes an individual who exists to extend hope to those without it: those whose lives have become so abandoned, isolated, and forgotten that these have no place to call a home.
The guardianship, advocacy, and interpersonal connection that this lion offers in conjunction with his active seeking-out of the banished is reminiscent of God’s endless pursuit of lost souls. And, when he finds these outcasts, there are no criteria they must fulfill; no limit beyond which they become “too damaged” or “too quirky” to join the other misfits. Instead, their very status as oddballs qualifies them for a place in this family. It is Moonracer’s desire that all toys have a place to belong, and that these live happy and fulfilled lives where they can exchange joy with one another and the children.
In Luke 15, we see multiple examples of the same type of redemptive searching that is characteristic of Moonracer. Verses 4-7 explain that a shepherd who lost a single sheep out of his one-hundred in number would certainly leave the ninety-nine to look for the missing one. Furthermore, it is stated that all of heaven celebrates over the return of the missing one. Verses 8-10 describe a woman’s diligent search throughout her entire house as she endeavors to recover one coin lost from her count of ten. Again, we are told that heaven rejoices over the reappearance of the mislaid. The remainder of the chapter (verses 11-32) outlines the parable of the prodigal son. In this story, a young man asks his father to divide his estate and grant him his portion of inheritance at once, so that he may take it and venture into the world to make a different life for himself. A deep study on the nature of such a request is outside the scope of this book, but a quick, cultural wrap-up of this element reveals this to be in poor taste on several levels. First of all, for a son to ask for his share of an inheritance in hopes of obtaining it from a healthy, living father is similar to telling this paternal figure that he has grown weary of awaiting his death.[i] Additionally, from the description of the father’s assets as referenced throughout the story, we see that he was a man of vast estate, which would have taken some great effort to divide, liquidating his son’s portion. In this way, we see that this son’s request was rude, selfish, inconvenient, and something which would have brought embarrassment within the surrounding community. (Resources were not discharged quietly in such communal settings.)[ii] And, inheritances within this culture were not only utilized for securing future generations’ financial providence, these also represented a passing-on of the family business: the younger descendants carrying on the ancestor’s way of life. To demand that one’s percentage be “cashed out” in such a way was an insult to the entire family on many levels. The reader can now imagine how much worse this atrocity became when the wayward son squandered this allotment on “riotous living,” (verse 13), which many scholars sum up in such terminology as “parties and prostitutes” (based on insinuations in verse 30). At such a time, a son would be considered such a disgrace that he would be deemed “dead” to his family, and at the very least cut off from his surrounding community.[iii]
For the father in this parable, what was asked of him was an affront to him as a paternal figure, as a provider, a maker of family heritage, as a loving child-rearer, and disgraced him before his community. He had every right to deny the request of paying out the young man’s inheritance, and yet acquiesced. The story itself describes a father whose unselfishness supersedes that of human ability, paralleling the supernatural love of our Heavenly Father, even in the face of shortsighted, self-seeking, disgraceful rejection placed upon Him by the ones he raised up in the first place.[iv] We should be outcasted from Him. We deserve to be isolated. And yet, Luke 15:20&32 describe a Father who is constantly watching from afar for his returning, wayward children: “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him,” and later, announcing, “…[my son] was dead [to this family], and is alive again [restored to the status of this family]; and was lost, and is found.”
Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, God is seeking those who have rejected and even disgraced Him, desiring only to see them restored to His family. And, similar to this paternal character, He does not care what you have done: how you may have wasted your inheritance up to now. He will run to greet you, just as the elderly man in the story of the prodigal son did. The same way that King Moonracer searches for the lonely, rejected, and the hurting; He wants to bring the lost ones into a place of belonging. It was never intended that mankind would live a life of separation from God. Nor was the Creator’s aim ever that we would reside in isolation from others.
At one point in the Rudolph movie, the young red-nosed exile approaches King Moonracer, requesting to live permanently on the island of misfit toys since he, too, is an oddball. The King denies the request, saying: “Unlike playthings, a living creature cannot hide himself on an island.”[v] The crowned lion immediately follows this refusal up with his own petition, asking Rudolph to help him find children who will love the residents of the island so that they can be re-homed into happy, new lives. What a touching sentiment of advocacy and redemption that, even at that moment, the royal guardian’s thoughts are toward beseeching redemption for his beloved residents.
If you are one who has self-isolated because of past pain or trauma, because of feelings of unworthiness or awkwardness, there is a King—King Jesus, the Lion of Judah—Who wants you to know you belong. Perhaps you are secluded because it is you who has rejected Him. Understand that He wants nothing more than the missing ones to return. He has clearly stated in His word that all of Heaven rejoices upon the homecoming of one prodigal son (or daughter!). There is a place you fit in: you are unique, loveable, and beautiful in His eyes. Your flaws, shortcomings, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses are a part of your testimony. You are completely redeemable—you are only an outcast if you choose to remain one. He is seeking you out, even now. He will restore you to the status of His family, and will place you in a permanent home where you can give and receive joy and love, and experience true peace.
Regardless of why you may have found yourself separated from the Body of Christ, it is time you come home. There is a family reunion awaiting you, and like the father whose wayward son returned to him, God is watching in hopes of your return, ready to embrace you.
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DO YOU FEEL LIKE A MISFIT? PERFECT! GOD HAS BIG PLANS FOR YOU!
Growing Up a Misfit
One of the questions I (Allie Henson) hear people ask repeatedly is what it was like, growing up the daughter of Tom and Nita Horn. To some degree, the question is connected to this book about misfits, since these two have walked a path and followed a calling which have been so matchless. As a member of this family, one likewise follows a distinctive course and sees unusual things. However, many of the people who make this inquiry do so, not looking for a commentary on church under-workings or ministry expose, but usually operate more from a sense of curiosity regarding the “family side” of Tom & Nita Horn. To satisfy that curiosity, I will deviate for one moment to indulge the reader’s interest.
I remember when I was under two years old (I have very young memories—in some of them I’m not yet even walking), living in a small, two-bedroom trailer on the corner of a local farmer’s corn field (this living situation is discussed at length in The Boy From El Mirage.) I had a fun world of the simplest playthings with which to occupy my time: a pavement slab outside with a wading pool on it, a red tricycle, and later, a red-and-white-candy-cane-striped swing set that made me feel like I owned my own peppermint-themed playground.
One particular day, a box of books came in the mail. My parents were very excited, and there was a celebratory theme surrounding the idea of “daddy getting his homework in the mail!” Of course, I had no idea at the time that what had arrived were his correspondence text books for becoming a trained, licensed, and later, ordained minister. At my age, all of that was far over my head. What I recall vividly was my daddy, despite juggling more than one means of industrial employment, coming home and closing himself into one of the dark, 1970s wood-toned paneled bedrooms of our trailer between work shifts so that he could “study.” Mom and I would keep each other company while taking care not to make so much noise that we may distract him—whatever he was about in there was emphasized as very important. This went on for quite a season—a few years—until one day, another box arrived which was received in similar gleeful fashion to that early shipment of books. I’m guessing it must have been some type of completion certification, but as young as I was, I didn’t understand what I was looking at. What I distinctly do recall, was that, as part of this small merriment, he took out a suit catalog he’d been keeping at his desk, and he and mom quickly began pouring over it, discussing colors, cuts, designs, and more. She measured him in a variety of directions: arm length, leg length, shoulder width, etc. They wrote on a card which had been torn out along its perforated edge, which was then placed in an envelope with a check and put in the mail. Weeks or maybe months later, the fruits of this labor arrived.
To reward himself for his hard work in finishing ministerial school, and to launch his newfound role with style, my dad had ordered himself two new suits—both made of polyester—each featuring pants with a belled-cut leg and a jacket on which every angle of the design took on an exaggerated, curvy swoop. The buttons had a pearlescent tone which added a modern, edgy look; causing what may have otherwise been mistaken for a leisure suit to be regarded as completely professional business attire. And the best parts about these two recently acquired, stylish outfits were the colors: one was maroon and one was hunter green. As he emerged from the next room to show the first one to my mom, I’ll never forget both of their excitement at seeing this tangible manifestation of the new chapter in their lives. In the wide-eyed excitement of their youthful zeal, they just knew God was leading them into a path of service for the Kingdom, and the milestone of the first pastor’s suit—as ridiculously and as quintessentially “1978” as it may have been—was one of the earliest visible icons of their dream of ministry being brought into the observable.
So, for your reading enjoyment, there it is: The visual of a young, beaming, Tom Horn in a hunter green or maroon, polyester, bell-bottomed leisure-business suit, holding a Bible in his hand, ready to take the gospel into the world; with a giddy, barely-older-than-adolescent Nita beside him, grinning ear to ear.
And yet, these two had no idea the journey they were about to embark upon. Looking back, I see that while they both were ready to obey the call to ministry, they had no idea what the path would present across the years. The types of obstacles that they would face and the specific fashion of predicaments that would surface in churches that they led were so unique that this accumulation of experiences carved the unparalleled ministerial path which eventually paved the way for Skywatch TV, Defender Publishing, and Whispering Ponies Ranch. But anyone who knows much about my parents will know that each of these was not raised in church and had childhood experiences which had rendered them a misfit in their own way. These two who, for years, led congregations and held a successful ministry, were just a couple oddballs who answered God’s call on their lives at a young age with the words “send me.”
UP NEXT: We’re all Misfits Here
[i] Dodson, Bob. “The Request For the Inheritance:Part 1 of the Study of the Lost Son Parable in Luke 15.” Acts 242 Study. Last Accessed July 26, 2021. https://acts242study.com/the-request-for-the-inheritance-part-1-of-the-study-of-the-lost-son-parable-in-luke-15/.
[v] Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, written by Romeo Muller, directed by Larry Roemer and Kizo Nagashima, narrated by Burl Ives, composed by Johnny Marks, produced by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, originally aired December 6th, 1964 on NBC Television’s The General Electric Fantasy Hour, 4:36–5:19.