Last week I was in the Orlando-Sanford airport waiting to catch a flight home. I was sitting just outside of a gift shop eating a Cinnabon at the time. Don't judge me. It was a moment of weakness. It was also a horrible decision. Honestly, whoever thought it was a great idea to load people up on a thousand-calorie, gooey, greasy cinnamon roll right before they get on an airplane? Anyway, in the middle of gorging myself I was distracted by a family that walked past me while their son was having an all-out meltdown. If I had to guess, I'd say he was about 2 and 1/2 years old, and he was losing his ever-loving mind right in front of me. As you may know, it's hard enough to eat a Cinnabon in a calm, controlled environment. It takes concentration, courage, and perseverance to accomplish a feat such as this. So having a toddler screaming right beside you makes it almost impossible. I was tempted to ask him to take his outburst elsewhere so I could keep my mind focused on the task at hand, but I decided against it. Instead, I shifted my attention from the heart-attack on a platter I was consuming to figuring out why this kid was so upset.
It didn't take too long for me to discover the source of his tantrum. The issue was that he'd just seen some Mickey Mouse plush toys in the window of the airport gift shop, and he wanted one for himself. He was begging his mom to take him into the store to buy him one. His mother, a very loving and rational human being, was trying her best to explain to him that they didn't need to go to the gift shop because they were going to see the real Mickey the next day. The problem with this approach was that the little boy, like all other toddlers, was not a rational human being. All he knew was that they flew on an airplane to see Mickey and now Mickey was right there in front of him. No matter how hard his mom and dad tried to convince him that the real Mickey was going to be so much better and that Disney World was going to be full of Mickey Mouse toys, he was not having it. So after a couple of minutes of trying to be patient and attempting to calm him down, they finally had to pick the kid up, kicking and screaming, and carry him out of the airport. At this point I was relieved that I could go back to eating my Cinnabon in peace.
Later on I found myself reflecting back on the Mickey meltdown. As a dad, I can totally relate to that situation. Every parent has been there before. There's actually an entire website dedicated to pointing out all the ridiculous reasons why kids throw fits. It's pretty entertaining. You can check it out here. (reasonsmysoniscrying.com) But it's so fascinating to me to think about how far that family had come to see Mickey, and how close they were to actually getting there, only to be stopped short by a toddler who would rather have the airport gift shop version instead. Can you imagine if his mom and dad would have just given in? Like, what if they would have allowed him to trade the whole Disney World experience for the gift shop toy? Imagine if they would have spent a few minutes in the store, bought him the Mickey doll, and then headed home. That would go down in history as the worst Disney vacation ever. Obviously no parent in their right mind would ever do such a thing.
I can't help but wonder if God often feels this way with us, particularly when it comes to his will for our lives. There have been so many times in my life when I've been tempted to trade in what God wants for me for some cheap, knock-off replacement instead. It seems like the temptation to give up on God's plan and to choose an artificial substitute in its place often comes when we are so close to experiencing the real thing that God has in store for us. We can be just like that toddler, kicking and screaming, begging God to give us something less because it's easier and it's right in front of us. But God, an ever-patient, always-loving heavenly father, continues to point us toward the real thing, toward his true will for us. And occasionally, he picks us up, kicking and screaming, carrying us along the way to bring us to where he wants us to be.
There's a passage of scripture that's been speaking to me since I was a senior in high school. It comes out of the New Testament book of Hebrews. It says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Every time I read that passage, I'm reminded that there's only one way to really experience God's true will for my life. I have to fix my eyes on Jesus. The only way I'm going to avoid getting sidetracked by the airport gift shop is to keep my eyes focused on Christ. Especially when I'm tired, when it's tough, and when the journey has been long, that's when I have to keep my eyes fixed on him. What I love about this passage is that it teaches us that if we focus Jesus, he will take care of the rest. He's the author and the perfecter of our faith. It's his story to write. It's his story to perfect. Our only job is to fix our eyes on him, to run after him with perseverance.
My hope is that as you read this today, you would be encouraged to run the race marked out for you with perseverance, keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus. When the temptation arrises to trade God's will for something less, remember Jesus. Remember what he did for you on the cross, what he endured for you and for me, so that you won't grow weary and lose heart. His way may be harder, it may be longer, and it may not always make sense at the time. But it is always, always better.
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