Disneyland: I Had to Come Here…
Here we are, just a few days after the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attack. I had the privilege of spending the afternoon of September 11, 2011 at Disneyland, including watching a very special Flag Retreat ceremony. Being there reminded me of a story that Tim O’Day (former Director of Publicity at the Disneyland Resort, among other things) shared about the day after the attack.
- September 12, 2001 he was walking across Town Square towards City Hall. There was almost no one in the park that day (“You could throw a bowling ball any direction and not hit anyone”, he said), but he saw a woman sitting by herself on a bench sobbing. He walked up to her and asked if she was alright, if there was anything he could to help her. She continued to cry for a few more minutes as he sat next to her. When she could finally talk, she said, “I had to come here. I just couldn’t watch it anymore.” Doesn’t that resonate? For this woman, Disneyland was an escape, a safe place, and a place of reassurance. She was so distraught that she sought refuge at Disneyland.
I have to be honest. Disneyland has been that for me on more than one occasion, though it was not on that particular day. There are times when we all seek refuge. The world overwhelms us or batters us. We’ve seen all we can stand, and we have to get away. We reach a point where we have to escape and find a safe place. Fortunately, as believers, we have that.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. (Psalm 5:11)
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9)
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the hornof my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2)
But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 59:16)
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off. They swarmed around me like bees, but they died out as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off. I was pushed back and about to fall, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. (Psalm 118:8-14)
The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him. (Nahum 1:7)
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
God is our refuge from a harsh and cruel world. He is our strength when we have none left of our own. That doesn’t mean He takes us out of the world (though sometimes we do get that much-needed respite), but He does gives us all we need to stand, as long as we are standing in Him. And that means spending time with Him, knowing who He is, and being able to trust Him (and you can only fully trust one you know well). Sometimes that’s easier said than done, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
When you can’t watch anymore, when you’ve been battered and beaten and have to get away, stop looking around and look up! Take comfort, listen, and be restored. Then act.
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
- Refrain: Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!
His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!