I think we can learn a lot about life from going to Disney World. I spent a day in the Magic Kingdom last week with my husband and some friends, and I Couldn’t. Stop. Smiling. The fun, the food, the fantasy, the FIREWORKS—I may or may not have cried a little when Tinkerbelle flew from the castle—everything there really does feel a bit magical.
Corey and I were in Orlando for a Young Life conference that happens every four years. We had five days that allowed us to taste heaven on earth, as the planning team showered us with surprises around every corner and excellence in every detail. Kind of like when you go to Disney World.
While in Florida, we spent one day with some friends at the Magic Kingdom. One of the friends we went with is mildly obsessed with all things Disney, and he served as our unofficial tour guide through the park. KJ used to work at Epcot, so he had a behind-the-scenes perspective I’d never heard. He was like a kid in a…well, like a kid at Disney World. His excitement was contagious, and I’ll admit I caught the bug!
We learned all sorts of new factoids that only increased our wonder at the creativity and purposeful strategy of Disney:
Did you know that when you walk down Main Street U.S.A., the streetlights gradually become more and more modern-looking, as if you’re walking through time?
Did you know that in every room, there is a “hidden Mickey” silhouette somewhere to be found?
Did you know the path slopes slightly uphill as you walk into the park, so that when you’re tired at the end of the day it’s easier to walk out?
Did you know that delicious smells are strategically blown into public areas to create a positive emotional experience?
Did you know the sidewalks on Main Street are red so you feel like you’re walking down the red carpet?
Seriously. This place is so fun!
I learned so much about Disney by spending time with someone who loves it and seeing the park through his eyes. Magic is in the eye of the beholder, and he saw magic around every corner. My excitement for each thing we saw, rode, or experienced only grew because his enthusiasm was irresistible! Appreciating the attention to detail, care, and story behind every attraction increased my joy as I discovered a purpose deeper than what was immediately visible.
I fell in love with Disney because I understood the lengths Disney had gone to make my experience magical.
It’s kind of like real life.
The more we are able to look beyond the surface circumstances of our lives, the deeper we can gaze into the details that weave our story together, the more our amazement increases at the Storyteller behind it all.
The more we know God, the more we will love Him. The more we see the story behind what He’s really doing, the care He puts into providing for every detail, the unexpected joy that comes from witnessing His creativity all around us, the more we will respond in awe and wonder.
The more we understand that nothing in life is random, the more we will be on the lookout for the “magic” behind everything we experience—no matter how deeply hidden.
Real life magic may look like building a snow castle with my kids in the front yard, or it might look like hope for change in an area of past struggle. Magic may come in the form of an unexpected conversation with an old friend or in the beauty of sharing your story with someone who needs hope for theirs. The more I look for magic in real life, the more I find it in real life moments.
I want to live my life like I experienced that day. Yes, I realize that Disney World is not real life. But maybe, just maybe it’s a taste of the life we were intended to live. Life filled with wonder, delight, appreciation for the unexpected gifts in each experience. Life that is unhurried and open to the possibilities in front of us, holding loosely to our plans and accepting interruptions expectantly.
I’ve been thinking about heaven a lot lately. It’s on my mind and in my prayers as I study more and more about what the Bible says is coming “soon.” I just heard an illustration about eternity as a rope that goes out of the room and down the street, and our life here on earth is just two inches of the whole length. There is so much life to be lived beyond what our eyes can see. But our experience in the real magic Kingdom—the one that lies just beyond our current life—depends on our willingness to believe the One who designed it is a trustworthy Guide.
I’m still reveling in the glory of our week in Florida. Even greater than the day spent at the Magic Kingdom was the rest of our time gathering with Young Life friends from all over the world, refocusing our hearts and minds on the One behind the work that we do. A room full of 5,000 people who love Jesus enough to spend their lives making Him known really did feel like heaven on earth.
I’m treasuring the words of affirmation given to us all by the beloved Jen Hatmaker: “This is a really good use of your life.” Thanks, Jen. I want to use my two inches of rope well.
I learned last week that we must train our eyes to see what we want our hearts to adore. Our focus matters. The more we look for God’s fingerprints, the more we see them. Real life magic is everywhere, for all to see. And the more we see the beauty of God’s hand working in all things to draw us toward Himself, the more we will love Him!
May we all find tour guides to help us discover the real life magic all around us. And may our hearts overflow with delight at the wonder and beauty on earth designed to draw us toward eternity. I’m willing to bet there are fireworks in heaven.