“Where dreams come true.” That’s the first thing you read as you roll onto the Disney property joining the thousands of people who are flocking to a Disney park with high hopes of riding every ride, meeting Cinderella, or basking in the sights and sounds of Disney. We scurried through the retro landing zone for the ferries and soon hopped aboard, along with hundreds of others, to embark on our journey to the Magic Kingdom. Cast members are smiling, pointing you in the right direction, and saying “have a magical day” as you hurry past. Even waiting in line for security to check your bag is pleasant. Soon you, and everyone else are entering the “happiest place on earth.”
As you walk down Main Street USA you see toothy children smiling; you look to your left and there is a five year old girl with her hair pulled into a tight glittery bun and she is showing off the new Cinderella dress her parents just bought her. To the right you see a boy who looks as if he has just enlisted for Captain Jack Sparrow’s crew and is ready to take on the seven seas as he is swinging his sword, fighting off the invisible swashbucklers that are approaching him. Everywhere you look you see parents fumbling around with their iPhones attempting to capture every moment. If you continue walking down Main Street you hear laughter, music, and then you smell the Ice Cream Parlor at the very end of the street. Ohhh the Ice Cream Parlor–I am fairly certain I could stand by the Ice Cream Parlor all day and just enjoy the smell, but right in front of you is Cinderella’s Castle enticing you to come deeper into the Kingdom.
Soon, Mickey & Minnie are skipping past you hand in hand heading toward their next picture station, Gaston is attempting to woo women (even Mallory!) with his marvelous fake muscles, and food carts are rumbling down the pavement making your mouth water with the smell of way-to0-buttery popcorn and funnel cakes heavily dusted with powder sugar. We were shocked at the amount of people who dump their strollers with all their belongings at the front of rides and wait for an hour in line for their next ride. Surprised that people do this, Mallory and I asked a family if they were worried about their stuff being stolen, and their response was: “We are in the happiest place on earth, nobody’s thinking about taking our stuff!” There is something otherworldly about DisneyWorld that is addicting to humans and it makes me ask, “Why do people love DisneyWorld so much?”
DisneyWorld is an oasis of hope in a hopeless world. The park is a clean, friendly, bright, and beautiful place that transcends our imagination, which comes as a breath of fresh air from the dark, broken reality of the world we live in. There is something deep within all of us that aches and yearns for something better that we know we will never experience in this life. Yet, for a few fleeting hours we can escape to the Magic Kingdom with our friends and family and experience what that future hope will be like.
DisneyWorld is an oasis of hope in a hopeless world.
In the beginning, God breathed life into man, and he put him in a garden called Eden. He gave him everything he needed, but gave him one command, which was to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17). Then God created Eve, and you know the rest of the story, Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and became like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5). From that point on mankind has been in an endless spiral of failing at attempting to be God. One chapter later Cain kills his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8) and if you keep reading the Bible you will see incest, rape, famine, more murder, racism, dysfunctional families, the pain of losing a child, the longing to even be able to have a child, depression, a wealthy man who can buy everything but happiness and fulfillment. You will read about blind people, paralyzed people, people who died unexpectedly, people who are so zealously religious that it causes them to hate and persecute people who don’t follow the same rules as them. All of this sounds too much like our current predicament. We live in a world that is shattered by sin, by a world of people attempting to be like God, and yet failing miserably. However, we yearn to live in a world where the color of your skin doesn’t determine how people view you, where death is no more, where children are not starving to death, and cancer takes victims no longer.
God could stand it no longer, so he stepped into the muck of the world as a man named Jesus. John 1:14 tells us that God became flesh and lived among us. Graham translation: “God moved into our neighborhood” and soon history was to be changed radically. Jesus turned water into wine, stepped over cultural boundaries and loved the unlovable, he engaged the rich and the poor, he healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the hungry, walked on water, wept at the death of a friend, made the blind see, was betrayed by a friend, was spit on, cursed at, mocked, whipped, beaten, and nailed to a cross by his own people, was buried, and raised from the dead, and ascended into Heaven. God moved into our neighborhood, gave us glimpses of the kingdom to come, and in the jacked up, messy, disgusting world that we live in Jesus was killed, but he didn’t die for no reason, he died so that we may have life and life abundantly (John 10:10). The purpose John gave for writing his Gospel was so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
The story isn’t over yet either, one day Jesus is going to return and make all things new. The world we will live in will no longer be jacked up, messy and disgusting. We yearn for a Genesis 2 day in a Genesis 3 world. The Bible tells us that one day that the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat as well as the lion and the fattened calf, and children will lead them. Cows and bears will graze together, and the ox will no longer have to worry about being eaten by a lion, and nursing children will be able to play around cobras (Isaiah 11:6-9). Friends, this is just primarily about animals! Imagine what it will be like for people when knees ache no longer, arthritis is a thing of the past, hearts beat healthily, vision is 20/20, and death is no more! John wrote later in Revelation 21 that one day Jesus will return, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth where God will dwell with his people, and every tear will be wiped away, and there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain for those who have believed in Jesus Christ.
So, DisneyWorld gives us hope, because for 12 hours we can escape from the brokenness of the world around us and experience a small taste of what the world will one day be like. Instead of standing in awe of Cinderella’s Castle we will be standing in awe of the glory of God. Instead of Mickey & Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald passing us by, we will be surrounded by the saints of those who have gone before us like the apostle Paul, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the beloved family member or friend. It will even be a world without long lines, sunburns, over-priced food, and achy feet. It will be a world without locked doors, wars, and neighborhoods “on the other side of the tracks.” It will be a world redeemed by God. We will exist in the world that we were created for and currently, so desperately long for. Until then, may we, like Jesus, bring glimpses of the kingdom to our communities.
Coming soon: Part 2 & 3 of our “Where Dreams Come True” series.