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Almost Disney

Not long ago I was in Orlando Florida with my wife and children who are ages 4,7 and 9. Let me preface this story by telling you that our family has been to Disney before and I do plan to go again one day. However, on this trip, the reason we went to Orlando was not to go to Disney World. But, on our last day in Orlando, I started thinking…..We are right down the street from Disney and Disney is pretty awesome. Maybe we should at least drive through there. Or, better yet, what if we eat lunch at one of those Disney restaurants on our way out of town. So, I found a restaurant right outside the gate of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We had no Disney tickets, so this was about as close as you could get to Disney without going in. So I tell my family we are going to eat lunch at Disney but we are not able to actually go inside. But I don’t think that last part was very clear.

So we start driving in, and there’s the big mouse sign that says, “Welcome to Disney World”. Everyone in the car gets really excited. So we follow the signs to Animal Kingdom, and get in the general parking lane with all the other cars going to Animal Kingdom. We pull in the parking lot with hundreds of others. Everyone in the lot has their strollers, their cameras, their Disney apps ready to go, and they start walking to the tram. So we do the same thing. We do what the rest of the crowd is doing. We follow the bunch up to the tram and hop right on it. The man driving the trams takes us all to the front gate of Animal Kingdom and he says “Welcome to Disney World, park closes at 8pm tonight, have a good time”. So we hop off the tram and walk up to the main gate to find the restaurant.

This next part made me a little nervous because we didn’t have tickets. Everyone that is heading toward the gate has to go through security before you go into the gate. Are they going to ask for my ticket at security? Ok, we’ll just go with it, fingers crossed. So we go up to the security checkpoint, “Welcome to Disney World folks, we just need to peek inside that bag”. “Oh, thank you, enjoy the park today”. If only we were actually going to the park. It sure seemed like we were going in. So we walk to the restaurant, outside the gate, and have a nice lunch. By this time, the Disney bug had completely set in. I had another brilliant idea. As we stepped outside the restaurant I could see the line of Disney Buses. Now the purpose of these buses is to take you to the rest of Disney World. These buses could get you to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, a resort, you name it. And all you have to do is hop on. There is no ticket check to ride the bus.

“Hey Guys, this lunch was so awesome, and this all feels really fun, how about if we see a little more of Disney?” “YEAH”. Ok, so we are going to get on this bus to Epcot and then ride the monorail around a little bit. We are going to be able to see a ton of cool stuff that way. So we head over to the Epcot bus line. In the line, people are talking up the rides at Animal Kingdom, excited about the Epcot rides, it’s all great. In fact, a woman came up to us who was completely lost, had no idea how to get where she needed to go. “Oh yeah, we are heading to Epcot right now, you just have to get on this bus”. Wait, we are telling other people how to get to Epcot? We don’t even have tickets.

So the bus takes us right up to the front gate of Epcot. From outside the gate I can see the huge Epcot Ball, right there to greet us. “Hey Kids, stand right here, let me take your picture in front of this Epcot Ball” “Cheese!”. Ok, lets get on that monorail and go see a little bit of the Magic Kingdom. Oh, we have to go through security again. No problem, it was easy last time. “Welcome to Disney World Folks, let me peek in your bag, ok right this way to the park, enjoy Epcot”.

Come on Kids, this way, let’s just head up to the monorail platform. We don’t need tickets for that. So we head up the ramp with all the other folks who are going from Epcot to Magic Kingdom. We squeeze on the monorail with the big crowd and the monorail departs. “Ok kids, start looking out your window now, we are coming up on it.” Then the announcer comes on, “Welcome to the Magic Kingdom, enjoy your day here at Walt Disney World”. “Hey Kids, just stay in your seats, we are going to keep riding the monorail. But look out your window over there, you are going to get a really good view of Cinderella’s Castle and Space Mountain”. “There it is, see it kids? Looks fun huh. Yeah, so awesome, man I love Disney.”

So the monorail moves on, and pulls into the Contemporary Hotel. Everyone is getting off and heading to their rooms. From the elevated platform we can see inside the hotel restaurant, “Dad, Dad, I see Pluto, there’s Pluto!” “Dad, this hotel is awesome, are we staying here?” “Nope. We don’t have a reservation like the rest of the folks here”.

So, we head on down to the bus stop to make our way back to Animal Kingdom so we can retreive our car and make the 9 hour drive home. We almost did Disney. It looked like we were going to Disney. All the other people who were really going to Disney thought we were going. We parked in the lot, we road the tram, the monorail, saw the castle, saw some characters, even bought souvenirs at a hotel. We got really close. But we never made it through the gate. We didn’t have tickets. For my children, they didn’t understand that we needed tickets. They thought since Disney was all around us, we could just walk through the gates. There was a misunderstanding.

Almost Disney is a parallel to my life. My whole life I went to church. I did all the church things. I hung out with all the church people. Church was all around me. On the outside I looked like a Christian. I looked and acted like someone who had a ticket into Heaven. However, I didn’t have a ticket. But I sure thought I did. There was a misunderstanding.

You see, I thought that by going to church, being fairly moral, believing there was a God, and by acting like the other Christians I was going to Heaven. But what I failed to understand was that those things would not get me in the gates. I did not understand that I could only enter the gates of Heaven if I had a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. There is no other way in.

I didn’t realize that what keeps us all out of Heaven is sin and that the punishment for sin is eternal separation from God, outside of Heaven. But because of his great love for all people, God himself came down to earth in the form of a human, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment for our sin. We can’t make up for our own sin, but Jesus has already paid the price for us. He has redeemed our sin with his death on the cross. If we are willing to turn from our sin and surrender our lives to Jesus Christ through Faith then He will forgive our sins. That’s how we get our ticket into Heaven. Only through a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, which begins when we come to Him in Faith and Repentance.