Almost Disneyland

photo by andy commons Early this spring, I took a trip to California and got to spend a day with my brother, one of my very favorite people on the planet.

He took me to Downtown Disney, which, for those unfamiliar with the area, is a place not un-similar to "Main Street U.S.A." located within Disneyland. There you can shop and eat in themed restaurants (we chose New Orleans) to your heart's content. Also, at that time at least, you could take in the great spectacle of Maleficent (in dragon form) trying hard to defeat Prince Phillip, all constructed using Legos.

We both grew up loving Disney, for better or worse, living near enough to the 'Land to make the trek now and then. He went to school in the very near vicinity and would often text me from the line for Indiana Jones or Space Mountain as he took a "study break."

As we walked through the shops and the lobby of the hotel, we were surrounded by the trappings of the Magic Kingdom. The characters stared at us from photos and window decals and, of course, merchandise. Every once in a while I got the feeling that I could hear the sounds of the park faintly.

Magic was within easy distance.

I do this often, I realize. I settle for "almost."

I live with the way a relationship, or a situation is for a long time without realizing that I'm settling. Many of the earmarks are there. I tell myself that it's supposed to be hard, that it's supposed to hurt sometimes. These things are true, but sometimes I use truth as a weapon against myself. Sometimes a sliver of truth is far worse than a lie.

I believe that God works mightily between the rocks and hard places. I believe that the suffering I share with Him, participating in His death, is powerful and transformative. Sometimes I cling so hard to my theology of suffering that I forget that He also leads me beside still waters, that I am asked to "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure-- pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." (Luke 6:38).

This is a balance that I so often fail to strike.

Lately, though, I have been echoing the Psalmist: "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living." (Psalm 27:13)

Sometimes I forget that the Lord has good things in store for me, even here on earth. When that happens, I do despair.

It's easy for me to think that Heaven is a wonderful place, and that when I arrive, all will be well. But God is here now, too. He is present and moving in the earth. He has won, and we are no longer under the curse. Eternal life has begun.

There is nothing almost Disneyland about that.