A Dark Side of Disney

Just this past Friday I took my day off to go with a group of people to share a day at the Disney parks with our missionary Chet Williams and Gilberto (the grandson of one of the killers of those famous missionaries of 1956; Jim Elliott, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian). We understood this to be the first time a person from the Waorani people had set foot in Disneyland. Gilberto had never seen or in some cases never heard of such wonders. It was fun to experience the park with him.

As we walked the conversation came up how wonderful these parks are taking in the best of the world with all its sights, sounds, and fun, yet without the real risk! Radiator Springs (the ride made from the Disney move CARS) is great, very entertaining, and you even get to race, yet with no real risks. Sure, the line is long and there is a risk of standing out in the hot sun, yet in no way do you face the real risk of race car driving. (Over 20 people die yearly or suffer great physical damage due to the sport). Disney has dealt with any real risks in addition to not allowing some ‘at risk’ people to ride. Gilberto loved the ride and we rode it twice. He also loved the California Screamin’ ride that was to him a lot like flying in a single engine plane when the airplane hits turbulence (which Gilberto does often as he travels into the jungles of Ecuador to minister to his people). Yet again this Disney ride is without real risks; you are strapped in, and the ride it well equipped with appropriate breaks and safety measures, nothing like the real risks of flying.

The Jungle Cruise is another risk-free ride void of the real risks of jungle travel with venomous snakes and spiders, poisonous plants, bugs that burrow into your skin or carry malaria or dengue fever, let alone the threat of panthers or an anaconda or two or even unfriendly natives. The Disney Jungle Cruise is safer than walking out your front door and there is even a funny boat driver to boot!

Ok, so how is this ‘dark side’ any concern of ours and why is noting that of any importance to us? Good question…glad you asked. Let me start by having you read a few proverbs from the Bible:

Proverbs 10:4-5 Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.

To be lazy is to seek to live risk free; free of pressure or strain or expectation or failure. To be diligent is to be willing to take the risk of working hard; feeling a little stress, getting your hands dirty, pushing against the pull of ease, and striving after goals and accomplishments. Now not that enjoying Disney or any other fun risk free place is wrong, but we can long to live that risk-free, work-free life where there are no pressures at all. Let’s read on…

Proverbs 18:9 One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.

The one who never takes risks and seeks to only do the minimum is not a good thing.

Proverbs 12:11 He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.

That fantasy life of never a risk, just one entertaining ride after another, is not what God has in mind for us. Here are a few more verses:

Proverbs 14:23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
Proverbs 21:25 The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.
Proverbs 22:13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!” or, “I will be murdered in the streets!”
Proverbs 28:19 He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.

Sluggards don’t take risks and even escalate the minor risks into insurmountable risks that only a fool would take.

Yet it is risk that helps us grow. That’s why the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1:5-7 challenges is to take the risks of spiritual growth. The words ‘make every effort’ can also be translated to read ‘at your own personal risk.’

2 Peter 1:5-7 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

Any growth does not just happen, it takes risk; the risk to learn, to change, to start a new good godly habit, to love like Jesus, to be selfless, to be helpful, to care for people who are tough to care for, to not be selfish, read our Bible…and the list goes on. Sure life would be great if all we had to do was buy an entry ticket and go from one risk-free experience to another, but all that would do would be to turn us into lazy slackers or daydreaming sluggards, not the vibrant strong Christ-followers we were created to be.

Now, please know I am not down on Disney, I love the place and visit many times and encourage people to have fun there too. There just is a dark side when we think that is what life should be like.

Seeking to take some risks to grow with you,


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