You, the Magic Kingdom & Happily Ever After

Magic Kingdom

I had a strange dream last night. I was doing a Q & A session at a Christian conference, and someone unexpectedly asked, “What do you think of Mickey Mouse and the Magic Kingdom?”

Considering it a very odd question, I initially started to brush it off. “Well, I don’t really have much to say about Mickey from a Biblical perspective,” I said.

But suddenly I had a flash of insight…

“One thing I would point out, however, is that the original Disney franchise thrived because people were thirsting for something magical—which we would call supernatural or miraculous in the Christian life,” I explained. “Glass slippers, fairy dust, magic wands, and kisses that can raise the dead were symbolic of the kinds of things we’re yearning for God to do in our lives. We inherently sense that we’re unable to accomplish these things without His supernatural involvement.”

As the dream continued, I pointed out other parallels. “God’s kingdom IS a ‘magic’ kingdom. When Jesus preached on the kingdom of God, He performed healings and did all kinds of miracles. In His kingdom—as in an old Disney movie—each of His sons and daughters is a prince or princess, and we should treat other Christians like that today.”

Right before the dream came to an end, I went on a rant about how our churches and our Christian lives today should rediscover the “magic”—reflecting more of the miracle-working power of God.

Living Happily Ever After

After waking from this unusual dream, I’ve been reflecting on why we love the Disney fairy tales so much. Yes, there have been some great love stories, like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. But it’s not just  that the protagonists are handsome, beautiful, hard-working, or intelligent. They’ve needed something magical  and supernatural  in order to get to their happy ending.

In the same way, the Christian life is a magical, supernatural life, energized by the Holy Spirit instead of mere human effort. Without Christ living His life through us, all we have is dead religion—which doesn’t make for a good fairy tale at all.

Just as in the Cinderella story, we all need three things in order to experience a happy ending in our Christian life: (1) A love relationship with Jesus, the Prince; (2) Recognition of our glass slipper, the customized purpose we were born to fulfill; and (3) Reliance on the power of the Spirit to bring about His “magic” in our life.

Cinderella’s life was dreary until she experienced these three things, and ours will be as well. But the good news is that God wants to come on the scene and work some of His magic to turn things around for us.

Yet you may ask, “Is it really possible to experience a ‘happily ever after’ kind of life?”

I understand why you may be skeptical. This world is full of discouraging circumstances, making it exceedingly difficult to “wish upon a star,” as the Disney theme song prescribes.

Nevertheless, King David’s words at the end of Psalm 23 show us that “happily ever after” is possible, after all: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

David was a king who had met the Lord as his loving Prince and Good Shepherd. And He was confident the “goodness and mercy” of that Prince would last him all the days of his life.

And notice that while we all hope for a “happily ever after” outcome in this present life, God gives us something even better to look forward to—happiness with Him for all eternity…forever.

No wonder the classic Disney movies are so popular. They tap into our heart’s longing for our Heavenly Prince, our glass slipper, and the magic available by His Spirit.

It’s fitting that we’re treated to these classic Disney stories decade after decade. We all need periodic refresher courses in the supernatural, love-filled Christian life, reminding us of our high calling as princes and princesses in God’s magical kingdom.

Some stories never get old, nor should they.

 

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The Prince, the Slipper & the Magic

Keys to a “Happily Ever After” Life

Another Cinderella movie?!  I could hardly believe it. Haven’t we all heard that story a thousand times already?

But despite my skepticism, I sensed that a fairy tale love story might do me some good. And sure enough, the new Disney movie was filled with numerous sermon illustrations that will definitely come in handy some day.

There’s a reason these old Disney stories never really go away. We’re all  looking for a Prince (or Princess) Charming to rescue us from a mundane, inconsequential life. And we all sense our lives are incomplete unless we find the “glass slipper” custom made just for us.

Believe it or not, these two themes were a central part of the transformation of Saul of Tarsus into Paul the Apostle. When Saul/Paul encountered the risen Jesus on the Road to Damascus, he asked two great questions that hold the key to OUR transformation as well:

“Who are You, Lord?” (Acts 22:8)

“What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10)

Paul’s first query could be called the “Prince” question. He was desperate to know the identity of the powerful Being who had knocked him to the ground and spoken to him from heaven. Of course, this ultimate Prince was none other than Jesus, and He replied, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting” (v. 8).

We can search in vain all sorts of other places for peace, satisfaction, and fulfillment. We can dream of some earthly prince or princess to complete our lives and bring us lasting happiness. And we can make a futile attempt to fill our emptiness with popularity, career success, or financial security.

But every other prince or princess, and every earthly attainment, will eventually let us down unless our life is built upon the true Prince of Peace and Lord of Lords. The only fairy tales with truly happy endings are the ones authored by Him. Why? Because He’s more than just a handsome Prince—He’s a Savior.

The Slipper

Paul’s second question could be characterized as the “Slipper” question. After we discover the identity of the Prince, the most important follow-up question is to ask Him what He wants us to DO with our life.

This second question deals with our spiritual gifts and our calling. We will continually be restless in life until we find “the slipper that fits”—the God-ordained role we’re meant to play in His kingdom and in this world.

We’ve all visited shoe stores and tried on shoes that were too big, too small, too wide, too narrow, too stiff, or uncomfortable for some other reason. What a relief when we finally come across a slipper or shoe that fits us perfectly—just as if it was personally designed for us by a master craftsman.

Next to the all-important question of knowing who Jesus (the Prince) is, nothing is more life-changing than knowing who YOU are meant to be in Him. So I hope you’ve asked Him that second question, “What shall I do, Lord?” And I hope you’ve taken time to listen for His reply.

Remember the scene in John 13 when Jesus knelt down to wash the disciples’ feet? Well, today I see Him kneeling down before you and me. And in addition to making sure the dust and dirt are off of our feet, He’s giving us glass slippers to wear.

Perhaps you’ve tried to fit into someone else’s shoes, but that never works, does it? Your feet end bruised and calloused until you finally realize you need a better fit.

The Magic

Another reason we love the Disney fairy tales is that they always include some magic. It’s not just that the protagonists are handsome, beautiful, hard-working, or intelligent. They need something magical and supernatural in order to get to their happy ending.

In the same way, the Christian life is a magical, supernatural life, energized by the Holy Spirit instead of mere human effort. Without Christ living His life through us, all we have is dead religion—which doesn’t make for a good fairy tale at all.

So after watching the new Cinderella movie, I can confidently list three things you will need in order to have a happy ending in your Christian life: (1) A love relationship with Jesus, the Prince; (2) Recognition of your glass slipper, the customized purpose you were born to fulfill; and (3) Reliance on the power of the Spirit to bring about His “magic” in your life.

Cinderella’s life was dreary until she experienced these three things, and yours probably will be too. But I’ve got a feeling God is about to work some of His magic to turn things around for you.

Yet you may ask, “Is it really possible to experience a ‘happily ever after’ kind of life?”

I understand why you may be skeptical. This world is full of discouraging circumstances, making it exceedingly difficult to “wish upon a star,” as the Disney theme song prescribes.

Nevertheless, King David’s words at the end of Psalm 23 show us that “happily ever after” is possible, after all: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

David was a king who had met the Lord as his loving Prince and Good Shepherd. And He was confident the “goodness and mercy” of that Prince would last him all the days of his life.

And notice that while we all hope for a “happily ever after” outcome in this present life, God gives us something even better to look forward to—happiness with Him for all eternity…forever.

No wonder the Disney movies are so popular. They’re just tapping into our heart’s longing for our Heavenly Prince, our glass slipper, and the magic available by His Spirit.

And why are we presented with the Cinderella story time and time again, decade after decade? Perhaps it’s because we need periodic refresher courses in love—much like we need regular reminders about the beauty of the gospel.

Some things never get old, nor should they.

 

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