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On my family’s second trip to WDW, our boys were six and four-years-old. Our first visit had been two years before, and everything had been truly magical. The children were in awe of all the sights and activities. There were no disappointments and no complaints. Naively, I expected the same attitudes, reactions, and dispositions in my precious boys the second time around, but I was in for a rude awakening.
My sweet little boys, while at the happiest place on earth, were complaining!!! I was shocked and disappointed. Our very first day, which was actually an evening in the Magic Kingdom, included a surprising amount of whining and complaining. The boys had decided that they did not want to be in the Magic Kingdom. They wanted to be in Epcot riding Mission Space, but mean ol’ mommy had forced them into Magic Kingdom, torturing them with rides like Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway.
Although I tried not to show my inner feelings, for fear I would make matters worse, I was livid on the inside! Why weren’t they happy? The Magic Kingdom IS magical! Why wasn’t it enough? Other kids would give their right arm to be at the Magic Kingdom. What was wrong with my children? Had they no sense of gratitude? Where had I gone wrong?
My husband and I talked with the boys and pointed out their bad attitudes several times that first evening and on into day two of our trip. We tried to help them become grateful and happy and enjoy the activities at hand. We talked with them about their heart attitudes. By day 3, their attitudes were improving. But I was still confused.
Throughout the week, I kept thinking about Disney being “the happiest place on earth.” I wondered why there were so many kids crying in this happy place? Why did I hear angry, frustrated parents speaking sternly to their kids? Could there a better place to take your family? I thought about these questions a lot and decided that there isn’t really a better place on earth.
There is no place that has no crying or whiny or anger or frustration. The only place that doesn’t have any of that baggage is heaven. The Bible tells us that in heaven God will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will be passed away (Revelation 21:3&4). Now that’s a vacation destination! That is a place I’d like to take my children. It will be even better than Disney World!
When we go to WDW, I do a TON of pre-trip planning. I book our restaurant ADR’s, plan which days we will spend in which parks, map out touring plans for each day, and get the whole family walking together months before our trip. I even color-coordinate our T-shirts for each day.
In light of all my Disney planning, I had to ask myself, “How well am I preparing my family for heaven?” It’s true that we can’t watch a travel DVD about heaven, but we can read a guidebook. I can read the Bible with my family and study what it has to say about heaven. I could easily spend a whole day, more than one, reading about and planning for Disney. But this question struck me, “Do I ever spend days reading and planning for heaven?” I go to great lengths to prepare my kids for our Disney vacation. Where is my urgency in teaching them about heaven?
And what about the reservations? I’ve made my reservations for heaven. I believe John 3:16 and have a personal relationship with Jesus. I am not perfect, but I know he loves me flaws and all. I am teaching my children how they can have their own relationship with Jesus. I can’t buy their ticket to heaven for them, but I can point them in the right direction and teach them that Jesus came to earth and died in order to make a way for us to enter heaven. Jesus told his disciples that in his Father’s house are many mansions and he was going there to prepare a place for them (John 14:2). He has a place for everyone, who believes in him and makes him the Lord of their lives.
I am eager and excited to tell people about WDW and to help them plan their trip. I love to talk about Disney! And I want my Disney planning to remind and encourage me to plan for eternity. I want to be as excited to tell people about heaven—about how much Jesus loves them—as I am to tell them about Disney. So thanks, WDW, for making me think about heaven.