Splash Mountain: Where is Your Laughing Place?
Splash Mountain has a particularly special place in my heart. I remember going to Disneyland with my Junior High band, and we were backstage for part of that time. I don’t remember a lot of the details, but I do remember being back stage and being told that Splash Mountain would be opening soon. I could hardly wait. It’s the first time I can remember feeling that way about something at Disneyland.
That it did. July 17, 1989 this attraction officially opened to the public. With it came the transition from Bear Country to Critter Country, as the bruins in the Country Bear Jamboree across the way were no longer the only inhabitants of this area of the park. (In truth, bears had never been the only residents of Bear Country—just as Max, Buff, and Melvin, the talking trophy heads mounted on the wall of the Playhouse (and now neatly hidden in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh).
The last of the 4 mountains in Disneyland’s “Mountain Range” (which also includes the Matterhorn, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Space Mountain), it finally brought the log flume ride to the park. However, along with that came fun music, entertaining Audio Animatronics (many of them from the recently-defunct America Sings), and 10+ minutes of references to a movie that now hasn’t been seen for a couple of decades or more—legally, anyway—Song of the South.
There is some great music in this ride, and for most of it you get to float along—with a few small drops, but nothing significant—watch these fun characters, and listen to lively songs such as How Do You Do and Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah.
But then the ride turns darker and takes on a more ominous tone. There are hints of dear in the characters, and right before climbing a large and rather intimidating-looking hill, two buzzards sit above you, taunting. “So, you’re looking for a laughing place. We’ve got your laughing place right here.”
Half way up the hill is a shadow of Brer Fox lurking over Brer Rabbit, who is tied up and blubbering: “P-p-p-p-p-please don’t throw me in that there briar patch!” We crest the hill and what do we see? That very briar patch, which we get dropped into (and under)!
As it turns out, the briar patch is Brer Rabbit’s laughing place! Brer Rabbit’s “laughing place” was the place he knew best, where he was most familiar and felt the safest.
Where is your laughing place? Not where you feel the happiest, for happiness is temporary and based on circumstances. No, we are looking beyond that. As Christians, where is your “joyful place”? I propose that it can be found in only one place: the presence of God Himself.
“You have made known to me the path of life;
You will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”
“How great is Your goodness,
which You have stored up for those who fear You,
which You bestow in the sight of men
on those who take refuge in You.
In the shelter of Your presence You hide them
from the intrigues of men;
in Your dwelling You keep them safe
from accusing tongues.”
In good times and in bad, the presence of the Lord is where we find joy.
How do we spend time in His presence? There are only two ways I know of: reading our Bibles, and prayer. We listen to what He has to say to us—sometimes about our current circumstances, sometimes an encouragement or a reminder from the past. We talk to Him, about what’s going well and what’s going badly. We ask for His perspective, His wisdom, His grace, His love. We remember what He’s done. And we remember that He has given us His Holy Spirit to dwell in us.
The reality is, we can be in His presence all the time. If His Spirit lives in us (and He does), then He is always with us, and we can always be in His presence. It takes intentional attention. It takes practice. It takes discipline. But isn’t all that worth it for a more constant awareness of “the joy of the Lord”, our strength, our hope, and our peace?
Question: Do you find it easy or difficult to be “in God’s presence”? Can you think of others ways to do it? Talk about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.