Bolt is the story of a dog who plays a superhero on TV. He has no idea that what’s happening on the show isn’t real. The producers decided that not knowing would make him a better actor – “if the dog believes it, the audience believes it.”
Problems arise one day when he ends up outside the studio lot – suddenly none of his powers seem to be working. He tries the Super Bark; nothing happens. For the first time in his life, he feels hunger, pain and weakness. As the makeup of his “lightning bolt birthmark” begins to fade, he has a crisis of identity: “I am not a superdog.”
However, during the journey, he starts to discover some things about being a real dog, beautifully captured in this song:
My high school daughter just taught me some cool new lingo: “Don’t be extra.” If you’re reading this and you’re as unhip as me, I’ll explain it – it essentially means “Don’t add something fake or dramatic beyond what you’re actually feeling.” Hopefully next time you’re tempted to be overly dramatic about something, you can hear a teenager’s voice saying to you, “omg don’t be extra.”
It reminds me something else I learned from Bill Walsh, a Hall of Fame football coach of the San Francisco 49ers. So many coaches tell their players, “Go out there and make a play!” – a vague piece of advice that sounds good, but usually results in the player operating outside of their actual skill set, causing the announcers to lament how he tried to “do too much.” The 49ers under Walsh had a different motto – as they would run onto the field, their rallying cry would be “Let’s play within our limits!”
This is the true blessing of what Bolt learned. In the end, he WAS a superdog, but not because of Hollywood special effects. He saved the day by being a normal dog – by embracing his limits, not in spite of them. If you feel like a normal person with no special superpowers, good news – God is looking for people just like that for His team. His favorite thing to do is show up right in the midst of your regularness, and use it to do a miracle. You may feel weak, but you have what it takes – let’s go out there and play within our limits!
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” –2 Corinthians 12:10
Dave Brubaker is Newsong’s Communications Pastor and movie lover.