Once again, I have come to the conclusion I had a deprived childhood. My parents never took me to Disney World. Not until I was an adult did I have an opportunity to visit the land “where dreams come true.” Several years ago, I attended a youth pastors’ conference in Orlando, Fla. I decided my family and I would take an extra day after the conference to go to Disney World.
Now, I am not normally an organized person. I usually pack the same morning we leave on vacation. However, when we arrive at our destination, I have everything planned to the nth degree. Before I went to Orlando, I read books that described the traffic flow of Disney World. (I bet you did not even know that kind of information existed). There are people who study the habits of people attending amusement parks. They say that only five percent of these visitors take time to plan their day in advance. I am one of the five percent.
My book told me the exact time of day each ride had the shortest line. I made a list of what time we needed to be at each one and mapped out a route to get our family from one attraction to the other in the most efficient way possible. The book also listed a special phone number you could call to find out the park’s unofficial opening time, allowing you to enter as early as possible. Of course, I called. I did everything I could to ensure that the Moores were going to be the first ones in the park. If there had been an Olympics for Disney World visitors, I just knew we would qualify for the gold medal.
We arrived at the park early in the morning and, much to my delight, were the very first ones in line. My first goal had been accomplished. The first monorail of the morning arrived, and we happily entered the first car. As the sun began to reach its early morning brightness, we could see the Magic Kingdom in the distance. I was so excited! My heart was pounding as the doors closed with a loud “whoosh,” and all the wonders ahead began to loom large in the train window. The monorail slid into the unloading dock and all of the doors opened automatically. All of them, that is, except ours. We pushed, we fiddled, we prayed-but it would not open. Suddenly, all of the other doors closed, and the monorail headed smoothly back toward the parking lot. Once again, all we could see was the Magic Kingdom, getting smaller and smaller in the distance.
Back in the monorail station where we started our adventure, we banged on the doors of our car, trying to get someone to notice we were locked inside. Thinking we were waving, the friendly people at the station simply waved back. By this point, the magic of the Magic Kingdom was beginning to wear thin. Again, our train took off, and again, the same thing happened. We spent the better part of the morning going around and around until the employees figured out something was wrong. Finally, the maintenance crew managed to get us out. Of course, by the time we were able to enter the park, the lines were already long. We spent the rest of the day exactly like all the other park visitors: fighting our way through the crowds.
That day, I discovered that no matter how well you plan, you can manage to be disappointed . . . even at Disney World. Today, many parents spend large amounts of time and money providing amusement and entertainment for their children. Sometimes, the adventures end in disappointment. Now, there is nothing wrong with taking our children to fun places. The problem comes when we make the Magic Kingdom a higher priority than the Heavenly Kingdom. After all, amusement is what the world provides, but joy is what God gives. Concentrate your efforts on taking your children to the Heavenly Kingdom-where rust does not destroy, where thieves do not break in and steal, and where no one is ever . . . disappointed.
Dear Father, I know You are the author of life and laughter, and those things reflect who You are. Amusement is what the world provides, but joy is what You give. Today I ask that You help me lead my children to understand that You are the only One who can give a joy that produces hope. May my child’s joy and delight come from You and not from . . . a mouse. Amen.