Disneyworld is the happiest place on earth.
And yet if you’ve ever walked the fabled pathway of Main Street Disney, you will have observed an interesting phenomenon. When the gates open, everyone is smiles and laughter. But as the day presses on, you find that those smiles and laughter steadily turn toward scowls and anger. In the happiest place on earth, you find a bunch of angry parents.
What started out as joy turned into frustration.
As a parent who has lived through this scenario, I can tell you with certainty how and why it happens: it’s because you get tired. A vacation to Disneyworld is the parental equivalent of running an Iron Man. You find after 2 or 3 days that you just don’t have the stamina to keep going over and over again. And so what starts out as joy turns into frustration because our ability for enjoyment is limited by our capacity for enjoyment.
This is one unexpected way in which sin corrupts even the most enjoyable of things – it’s because we, in our sinfulness, have a limited capacity for enjoyment.
Too much DisneyWorld turns joy into frustration. Too much ice cream turns what is delicious into what sours the stomach. Too much relaxation turns what is restful into lethargy. This is just another element of our total selves that has been corrupted and broken by sin.
See, we typically think about sin in the realm of individual actions – that we sin when we lie, or when we lust, or when we are greedy, or when we commit any number of acts that are against the revealed will of God and are inconsistent with His holiness. While it’s true that these are acts of “sin”, our “sin” problem runs deeper than making the wrong choice. Like a tree with a disease down deep in the roots, we produce rotten fruit because of the condition in which we live. The fruit is in reality the evidence of the much deeper issue we have. So it is with sin.
We, along with all creation, are in the state of sin. Poverty, hurricanes, cancer, and all the individual sins we commit are all the fruit of this condition of brokenness. That condition, then, not only influences the decisions we make, it also corrupts our capacity for true enjoyment. We know, if we are honest with ourselves, that every bit of our enjoyment of any single person, circumstance, food, or anything else is tainted in some way. Now that reality can either drive us to despair, for we know that no matter how good anything is in the moment, it’s not as good as it could be, or…
Or this realization can drive us to a holy longing for what is to come. We can, simultaneously, live in the moments of joy that we have and recognize that a day is coming when our joy will be full because our capacity for joy will be redeemed. We will no longer settle for the “almost good enough’s” and the “great for a while’s”. The day is coming, when all is redeemed, when everything will truly, and forever be good and good alone.
Come, Lord Jesus, and make it so.