Thoughts on the (Magic) Kingdom

By: James Thompson

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A couple of weeks ago, my family went to Walt Disney World.  And, when I say family, I mean my parents, my in-laws, my nieces, and my aunt.  There were 12 of us in all.  We had a great time.  My wife said something during our “Post-Disney-Evaluation-and-Assessment” Meeting that really stuck with me.  She mentioned how the “kids were different” this trip.

We reflected on how we had accomplished much of what we (er, she) had definitely wanted to do: (1) character greet with Anna and Elsa (not an easy task); (2) ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train; (3) take Lexi on the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (she was too short last time); (4) attend the Very Merry Christmas Party; etc.  While a few items on our “to do” list were recent additions to the park, a lot of what we planned were things that we had before.

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So, as we approached our vacation, we basically knew what to expect. We knew on this attraction, your seat jostles around and at the end a dinosaur springs out at you (and your picture is taken and available for purchase at the gift shop).  Or, on this ride, the roller coaster accelerates really fast before doing two loops (and your picture is taken and available for purchase at the gift shop).  At this restaurant, the princesses will come to your table and say hi (and your picture is taken and available for purchase at the gift shop).  We even planned on going to some of the same stores – Lego Store, World of Disney, Christmas Shop, etc. (where you can purchase frames for your newly purchased pictures of you being scared of a T-Rex, hanging upside down, or smiling with Ariel).

On one hand, it seemed that we were just going to repeat the experience we had last time – after all we were going to the same parks, eating at some of the same restaurants, riding the same rides, etc. Yet, it wasn’t a repeat. And, I think, the kids had more fun this time.  Like Missy said, they were not the same kids that we took last time.  Last time we took a 6, 4, and 2 year old.  This time we took a 9 (working on 18) year old very social and outgoing Zoe; a 7 year old daredevil “not scared of any ride” Lexi, and a 5 year old Isaac who was ready for everything. So, while Disney was the same, they were not.

I think Disney’s consistency is what many find appealing. They are consistent in the type of people they hire and the experience they provide.  And, for the most part, what you saw there last year will be there next year.  Rides you rode when you were a kid are still there (I’m talking about you It’s a Small World).  You have the opportunity to share the same experience with your children.  But, as Missy and I noticed this time, something had changed – namely the kids.  We got to witness how the children’s experience was different because they were different.  Zoe was more interested in meeting the characters and watching shows, Lexi was interested in the rides and roller coasters, and Isaac didn’t want to miss anything!  Missy and I wrapped up our Mother and Father of the Year awards by getting all three to be able to fight Darth Vader.

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But, James, what does this have to do with God?

    Malachi 3:6      “For I, the Lord, do not change.

Hebrews 13:8  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

This idea of being constant was what I started to think about. If something is constant, we can see change in ourselves on how we experience it – because we change. God is constant. I have never opened my Bible to see that someone has changed the words in it.  Yet, often when I read a passage or verse, I will notice that it resonates with me differently that the last time I read it. So, if the words didn’t change, but how it affects me does, then I must have changed. Simply put, because the Word remains constant, it allows me to notice how I am changing.

So, like my kids at Disney this year, I am different every time I read the Bible. It becomes a cycle.

“The more I read the Word and study it, the more it transforms me,

and the more it will reveal itself anew to me next time.”  

I think that God gets to enjoy the process as well. Missy and I enjoyed this trip not because of the rides, shows, or meals. Mostly, our enjoyment came from watching the children. They were more excited and eager to experience what Disney had to offer. Zoe volunteered to teach a whole auditorium a dance, Lexi nearly pulled my arm out socket to ride the roller coaster “one more time,” and Isaac got on a stage and fought Darth Vader – and all three danced in a street parade in Magic Kingdom. They all literally took a step forward from merely watching to becoming a part of the show.  

I can’t help but think that God feels the same way watching us learn and grow in our knowledge of him and his will; and thereafter, become part of the action.  

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JET

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