“Where the Wild Things Are,” is only a children’s story

Chris —  November 24, 2010

Only God stills the “Wild Things” of life (Psalm 67:7).

When our children were young, Where the Wild Things Are was a favorite.  I can still quote most of it.

The story is simple.  Max mouths off to his mother and gets sent to his room.  To occupy himself, he imagines that his room is a far away land infested with terrifying “Wild Things.”

The Wild Things are a scary bunch.  They roar their terrible roars, roll their terrible eyes, and gnash their terrible teeth. 

Max is having none of it.  He says, “Be still!” and tames them with the magic trick of staring into their yellow eyes without blinking once.  After that, Max and the Wild Things are friends and the wild rumpus begins.DSC_0005

Max has sold more books than Houghton-Mifflin.  Where the Wild Things Are has been made into a movie and it all goes to show that something about the story strikes a chord with people.  (As a lover of books, making a good book into a movie strikes me as positively Canaanite.  It is what it is, as we say). 

So, what is it about this children’s story that resonates?  I wonder if what it is that we like about Where the Wild Things Are is that we all like to imagine ourselves as Max.  We like to dream that we can tame the terrifying problems of life by saying, “Be still,” in a commanding voice.  It’s satisfying to pretend that we are in charge.

Yet, it’s only a children’s story.  If we had known only one person with terminal cancer or studied one war, we have learned that it doesn’t work for us to tell the problems of life to be quiet.  We have no magical powers.  The more we insist on being able to command all the chaos of life, the more fatigued we will find ourselves.

Yet, there is hope.

Psalm 67:7 assures us that only God who established the mountains (v. 6) is the one who can quiet the roaring seas and the tumult of the people.If right now there are some wild things in your life, understand, that it is the God of Heaven and earth can say, “Be still.” 

So, if you are sent to your room without supper, rather than issuing mandates to the wild things, be still and know that God is in control.  Ponder the power of the One who by his strength established the mountains being girded with might (Psalm 65:5), and yet chooses to atone for our transgressions (Psalm 65:3-4).  Rest in God, and when you finally are released from the confines of what has been troubling you, your supper will still be hot.

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4 responses to “Where the Wild Things Are,” is only a children’s story

  1. I adore this book. I still have the copy I bought at a book fair when I was in elementary school.

  2. When our son was 2, he was “reading” his Jesus Storybook Bible version of David and Goliath, when he said, “Then Goliath roared his terrible roar and gnashed his terrible teeth!”


  3. Scott – – that is great. I will have to remember that the next time I preach on David and Goliath.

  4. Does it bother no one else that the monster that all the others were following resembles Satan with his curving horns and weird tail? And the book says that Max tamed them with MAGIC. The Bible is very clear on the stand of God’s servants on magic and spiritism. The early Christians burned a pile of very expensive magical books. Am I the only one who sees that this story clearly pictures the fallen angels or demons following Satan, and that only a person with special powers can make them helpful rather than harmful? The demons are never helpful; only harmful. Christians and sincere Jews should shun magic. Deuteronomy 18:10,11; Acts 19:18,19