Yesterday, we were almost at Disneyland.
For those familiar with the Disneys, Disney World in Florida is truly a “world” in itself. You have to park, walk/ride a tram to the ticket booths, then take the monorail or ferry into the park itself. Disneyland, however, is smaller. You can, as we did, park at the Downtown Disney lot, walk around, then go right up to the front gate. All for $0 (if you leave the parking lot within two hours). We were right there – we caught glimpses of Main Street, heard strains of “It’s a Small World”, smelled the cotton candy. But we did not go in. Not this time. We’re putting our extra money towards helping our oldest pay for college next year. So we enjoyed the beauty of Downtown Disney, but we remained outside the gates of the park itself.
Downtown Disney is just a “taste” of Disney. Like the appetizer before a seven -course meal. It’s nice. But it isn’t the “meal” itself. It draws people in, lets us see, on keychains and ornaments and scaled-down models, what’s inside. Thankfully, we have amazing kids, and there was no grumbling or complaining about not getting to go into the park. But we all recognized that, though we were “almost” there, we did not get the actual Disneyland experience. However, knowing we live just a couple hours away, we have hope that, someday, we will get a picture inside those gates!
This morning, my bible study took me to the middle of Romans 8. In this, Paul talks about the reality of heaven and how it pales in comparison to life on this earth. I thought of our time at Downtown Disney yesterday. I realized that too often, I expect more of this world than I should. This world is like a “Downtown Heaven”. We have glimpses of the Kingdom here, tastes and smells and scaled-down models of the the real thing. But this world is not heaven! Unlike Downtown Disney, which was quite pleasant, this world is filled with the unpleasant, sinful, and sometimes horrific. We suffer and groan and work. We get frustrated because we expect this to be heaven, we expect perfection and ease and sinlessness.
The good news is that we are longing for a real place – there really will be a time (eternity!) where we will experience pure joy and endless worship, no tears, no pain, no disappointments. Until then, “we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance, we wait eagerly for it.” (Rom. 8:25b)
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I am challenged to remember why He came – to redeem a fallen world, to offer hope, and to provide a way for us to join Him in heaven forever. May we choose to rejoice, choose to remember why we are here and what waits for us just beyond the “gate”. May we enjoy this life, but not live it in the expectation that this is all there is. There is far more, my friends! Let us “wait eagerly for it”.