Look Beyond the Chocolate

Wonka Bar

One of my all-time favorite movies teaches one of the greatest lessons to be learned in this life. Released on the 30th of June 1971, this American musical, fantasy film is a timeless classic. Actually, in great abundance we discover many tasty, teachable moments, but one is particularly golden. If I mention that the movie was based on a story by Roald Dahl and starred Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, and Peter Ostrum, I’m certain that you can guess its name. Ah, of course, it’s in your personal collection as well: “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”!

As you know this story is choc-full of commentary regarding the follies of the “natural man”.  The cleverly delivered messages are as applicable to us today as when it was originally made. The colorful cast of characters convey the preponderance of slothfulness, greed, the desire for instant gratification, a sense of entitlement, pure selfishness, rudeness in discourse, and outright disobedience. Surely, these are nothing new to the human experience. Wonka’s magical candy-land is the ideal battlefield to test anyone’s ability to wage the ongoing war against temptation. Each of us needs to discover the path to fight off our own demons. I bet you’re thinking about the Oompa Loompas! For sure, their distinctive look, creative songs, and hilariously choreographed moves are memorable! But none of the warning, instruction, or correction gleaned from their fun-filled, lovable lyrics is central to my theme on this particular day.

I am asking you to fast-forward to the end of this delicious joy-ride. Let’s bypass the luscious lollipops, mouthwatering mounds of marshmallows, the raging river of real chocolate, the eggdicator, and anything remotely scrumdiddlyumptious. I don’t want you to focus on the weaknesses of Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Mike Teevee, Violet Beauregarde, or even Grandpa Joe. Don’t think for a minute that you are completely immune from the obvious flaws in each of their characters. To do so would be pure imagination! Despite the extreme popularity of the movie, I believe that it is quite possible that many overlook a truly powerful message contained in one of the closing scenes. In fact, I would go so far as to repeat my opening statement. It is the preeminent lesson to be taken away from this production, and it has real life applications. It is the simple fact that you must look beyond the chocolate! It is the grand truth that your worth is infinitely more than just the chocolate.

Let me reset the stage for you so that you can more fully understand. Grandpa Joe and Charlie enter Mr. Wonka’s office. Wonka is sitting at his desk dutifully engaged in nothing in particular. You remember, “there’s so much time and so little to do!” Wonka was waiting and hoping for his vision to unfold. Wonka is not thinking about chocolate. His plan, after all, has really little to do with chocolate alone. But that doesn’t stop Grandpa Joe’s mind from being  firmly fixated upon that concept as tightly as the wrapping around a Wonka Bar. Completely engaged as such, he wishes to know when his grandson is going to receive his life-changing reward–the chocolate. He mistakenly believes the notion that a prize is due without truthfulness, without effort, without transformation, or without a change of heart. Charlie Bucket’s grandpa expresses his outrage at Wonka’s apparent heartlessness and sense of fairness. He calls Wonka an inhuman monster. Grandpa Joe vows to enact revenge upon Mr. Wonka for destroying a boy’s dreams. He cannot fathom why Charlie will not be the recipient of a lifetime supply of Willy Wonka’s chocolate creations. It is pretty straightforward, though, as the Candy Man lividly points out just prior to Grandpa Joe’s outburst: “Under section 37 B of the contract signed by him, (Charlie), it states quite clearly that all offers shall become null and void if , and you can read it for yourself in this photostatic copy, I, the undersigned, shall forefit all rights, privileges, and licenses herein contained, etc., etc., ….it’s all there, black and white, clear as crystal. You stole Fizzy Lifting Drinks. You bumped into the ceiling, which now has to be washed and sterilized. So, you get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir! ”

 But wait, in a moment that I hope we all reenact at some point in our lives, Charlie does not succumb to his Grandpa Joe’s misplaced anger! Charlie comes to a realization that he has let Mr. Wonka down. The look on his face is of pure sorrow and remorse. He is prepared to accept the consequences of his actions. He makes restitution by returning the Ever-Lasting Gobstopper. “So shines a good deed in a weary world, “ is softly spoken by the magnanimous Candy Man. Then, Mr. Wonka reveals his true intentions. “Charlie, my boy, you did it! Forgive me for putting you through this. I had to test you, Charlie, and you passed the test.” “The Master said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of the Lord.”–Matthew 25:21  He declares Charlie as the winner. Yet, there’s something more to it, isn’t there? Charlie, unaware of what awaits him, is still simply focused on the chocolate. He asks, “The chocolate”? Wonka, now beaming with joy beyond measure, appears to roll his eyes. “Yes, the chocolate,” he responds. “The grand and glorious jackpot! But, that is only the beginning!”

Perhaps, we, like Charlie, may not recognize our full potential. That is why we cannot see beyond the chocolate. An old proverb declares: “Be Humble, for you are made of earth. Be Noble, for you are made of stars.” Why do we settle for less than we deserve? Why can’t we see our true potential? Why are we afraid of change? It is crucial to know that “the task ahead of you is never as great as the power behind you.”--Brad Wilcox  Simply put, you will have help! To move beyond our “chocolate stage” though, we must become as sincerely repentant as Charlie. Any trial or adversity which prevents us from making progress must be met head on. To move forward, we must first accept responsibility for our current state. If you’ve gained back all the weight you had lost, please believe that all is not lost! However, you must lose the “I want it now” attitude of Veruca Salt. Reaching your worthy goal in the past took time. Recall, that you felt that it was worth the effort. More importantly, remember that you believed you were worthy of obtaining something important. For a while, you saw beyond the chocolate! You knew that your endeavor was surely more than just about the weight. Even now, what awaits you at the journey’s end is far greater than you can imagine.  You can still choose to do what is right and never, ever give up. Adherence to the commandments of exercise and healthy eating is your pathway to success. Charlie Bucket had no idea that he was to be Willy Wonka’s heir. My hope is that we recognize that our destiny is to be heirs as well. “And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; and he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.” Thus said the Master Chocolatier! “The Lord doesn’t put us through this test just to give us a grade; He does it because the process will change us.”–Henry B. Eyring  That knowledge, my friends, is the great lesson. Now, you may have a bite of chocolate!

photo credit: Crafting with Cat Hair Felt Wonka bar iPod cozy via photopin (license)