“…unless you become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” — Jesus
Our almost-3-year-old granddaughter gave us the gift of a parable—in addition to a wonderful weekend.
Looking forward to a day at Disneyland turned into a here-on-earth glimpse into the Kingdom of Heaven. Suddenly through a child’s eyes we saw the Magic Kingdom mirror the Kingdom of Heaven. That may be why Jesus loved to snag earthly things to make us ponder heavenly things.
He’d say, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…
“Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 10:7).
Once our granddaughter learned our family planned a mini vacation to Disneyland, (I’ll refrain from calling it a Minnie vacation just to spare you…😊) every day she declared “I’m going to Disneyland!” Sure, sure, her teachers and little friends dismissed her declaration. Until the day her parents said she wasn’t coming to school Friday because “we’re going to Disneyland” was a reality!
It was true!
On the way there, she’d innocently asked, “Are we at Disneyland?” I mean, every step of the way! On the airport tram, in the airplane, in the parking garage, on the freeway, in the hotel. It took quite some convincing to explain the concept of “tomorrow.”
When tomorrow arrived, we buckled into our vehicle. “Are we at Disneyland?” Getting close. The drive-through breakfast? On the freeway? Again, even the parking garage was suspect. But we got on the tram, made it through security, bought our tickets, and passed through the turnstile.
At last! (You know what I mean, if you’ve been there.)
But. We. Made. It!
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27, NIV).
Maybe her teachers and buddies built their skepticism on the idea she’d recently “changed her name” to Elsa. Whenever we’d call her Cadence, she’d remind us who she really was now: Elsa. She loved her “new identity” dressing in her Minnie Mouse leotard as Elsa, donning a pastel Elsa swirly dress, making anything draggy as her cape, and, um, even transforming a furry mouse-y cat toy over her shoulder as her “braid.” Imagination had no bounds! She “owned” her new identity!
“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom” (Matthew 25:1).
The teacup ride topped her to-do list. Because the line wasn’t too long, her mommy and daddy carried her through the waiting lines while we stood in the designated “grandparents watch, wave, and photograph” space. Once they got inside and the teacups began to twirl, her eyes lit up. “Faster!” she grinned. Dad complied. They swirled amongst the sea of tea-party dishes. Then it was over.
We weren’t sure how she’d do. She burst into tears. “I want to ride AGAIN.”
It was better than she ever imagined. “Again!”
We all lined up to take a peek inside Mickey’s House. Little did we know it’d end with a private photo op with Mickey himself! First, he held out his gloved hand to Cadence to photo-honor her. She grinned with the Mouse, then stepped away. “No, no, no, not yet,” Mickey squeaked. “I want to shake your hand.” She beamed, delighted that Mickey wanted to shake HER hand. Then we all joined in the photo fun. Big smiles. Big memories.
“Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy” (Psalm 47:1, NIV).
All the day’s energy and enthusiasm culminated in exhaustion. Our eyes-of-a-child granddaughter collapsed into a deep sleep. Even the nighttime hubbub couldn’t wake her.
But before all that, we lined up for the parade, an explosion of festive costumes, dance, and music all honoring the array of films packed with kid-favorite characters. To watch generations gaze in delight touched us all. Little kids squealed and pointed with delight as “their” favorite story hero waved by. It brought tears to her mother’s eyes and mine.
And Cadence noticed. “Mommy, are you sad? Why are you crying?”
“No, I’m not sad. I’m crying cuz I’m happy.”
Confused by “happy” tears, she wondered more…
“You’ll understand when you’re older, like Mommy.”
To our surprise, our toddler replied, “I can’t accept that.”
“So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:4).
Image by Thomas Kelley.