“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.” –He 10:1
My parents are probably the most intentionally loving and generous people I’ve met on this earth, and some of the best memories I had growing up were the special vacations and trips they would take us on. Disneyworld was probably our favorite. I still remember bits and pieces of our first trip, being swept away by the magic of it all. I was probably 5 or so at the time and ecstatic that I got Robin Hood’s signature (and still have!), honored to shake Goofy’s hand , and truly felt I was in another world as I rode on Peter Pan. Everyone was smiling and laughing and it was etched in my mind as a place of absolute perfection. I felt like the luckiest kid in the world and dreamed of what it would be like to live there forever. We went again when I was a bit older (Jr High) and it was super fun, but my experience was a bit different. The rides were still fun, but the wait in line sure seemed longer and it turns out the characters were actually real people in costumes (but oh-how fun the workers must have had making kids happy all day!). While waiting for the laser fireworks show, I attempted to save spots for my family while they went to the bathroom and was consequently yelled at by a mom stating that saving spots wasn’t allowed. Needless to say, the place seemed a little less magical. My freshman year in college, my Mom and I decided to run the Disney ½ marathon in January. The race was amazing and there was no one I’d rather spend time with! While we were down there we spent a few days in the park. As it turns out, staying at a hotel is pretty darn expensive for a college student (old enough to be paying my way, but not old enough to be making much money), as was the food, souvenirs, and plane tickets. I learned that Disney workers were actually treated pretty lousy and thought of how uncomfortable it must be for the poor guy or gal playing Mickey in a giant black suit and 100 degree weather.
The older I get and the more I learn, the heavier life seems to be (Ec 1:18) and the bleaker the world around me appears. A realization of the abundance of wonderful and beautiful gifts God has blessed his creation with contrasted with the sad reality of how deeply we have managed to corrupt them is crushing. Greed, pride, and selfish ambition have stolen the place of generosity, humility and self-sacrifice that characterizes our Lord. We have depleted so many of the earth’s resources, oppressed and enslaved one another, ignored and neglected his word, and placed ourselves, our children, and our stuff upon the throne which he so deserves to dwell.
I think the heaviness results from a maturity through life experiences and willingness to have one’s eyes opened to reality and heart exposed to the truths of our depravity which I suspect were graciously hidden by a loving father who knows our limited emotional capacity present in youth. There never was anything magic about Disneyworld—it was just a shadow of paradise, a glimpse of perfection as conceived through the heart of a toddler. Disneyworld is ultimately as dark and broken a place without Jesus as is the rest of the world, though at times I think God allows a distortion of reality to give us hope as he begins to slowly open our eyes to the truth.
I suspect the world is at the same time both worse than I will ever know and better than I can ever imagine because we live in the in between-the paradoxical frustration of Jesus’ triumphant victory which has not yet consummated. I suspect that as we grow nearer to God, we see more clearly the contrast of what we once thought reality, but which ultimately is simply a shadow of the glory which once was and will one day become, and the state of depravity in which Adam and our own sin has reduced us. I suspect the deeper the wisdom, the sharper the contrast and the clearer the vision becomes, the more we see things from the perspective of the heavenlies—all as shadows of perfection waiting to be transformed.
“If I find, in myself, a desire in which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” –CS Lewis
PhotoCredit: Joyce Yong