(this was the short sermon I delivered at Agape Evangelical Church on Friday, 9th of July, 2010. Of course I only had an outline back then and it was delivered in Indonesian so it was probably quite different than this).
I went to Disneyland on Thursday (that’s 08.07.10) and had a real blast. Disneyland claims to be the happiest place on earth and therefore the time in Disneyland becomes the happiest memories on earth which you will see printed in many of their souvenirs. And I have to admit: it was a really happy place! So I tried to analyze why it was “the happiest place on earth” and there are at least 5 reasons I came up with:
1. You are on a holiday when you’re in Disneyland. So no work, no routine activities, no cleaning the house, etc.
2. There’s “magic” everywhere. Unexpected animation, Goofy jumping out of a door that seemed to be locked, Tinkerbell flying above the castle in the middle of fireworks, sudden twist and turns and so on… Disneyland is filled with surprises that make you go “WOW!”
3. Your mind is set to expect happy things! Disney movies have influenced you, you pretty much have a happy thought just by entering the park and seeing familiar cartoon faces. You’ve heard stories, seen pictures… Even a day before (or months before in my case) I was anticipating a happy day at Disneyland!
4. Twists, Ups and Downs! This might be personal preference, but I was happier on rides that had sudden movements than those that was just passing by sceneries. It’s probably scientifically proven though that when your heart beats faster you feel uplifted.
5. Disneyland is a family place. Most people go there with their families. Some would go with their loved ones, others with their friends. In any case if you do end up alone in Disneyland, there will be hundreds of people around you sharing the same happiness. I don’t think Disneyland would be a happy place if you were the only person in there!
So that was Disneyland. There’s a slight problem though… whatever joy we experienced in Disneyland, it is temporary. It was for the moment only. Yes, you do still have the happiest memories on earth, but memories too often fail you anyway.
The joy of a Christian, however, is NOT temporary! Let’s read Phillipians 4:4-9 before I continue.
4 Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The LORD is near.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Paul says “Rejoice in the LORD ALWAYS.” And you certainly can rejoice in the LORD always because the joy of the Lord is continuous, ever present, never failing!
Yet we can learn from Disneyland how to rejoice in our lives as Christians, as follows.
1. Just like being in Disneyland is a holiday, we need “holidays” in our lives, a time where we break out of the ordinary, forget about our routine, mundane tasks and just relax and marvel at the beauty of life. The Sabbath, which is that day of rest, is a command of God. God wants us to rest! Jesus himself also often took rests in the middle of all his works. And if you’ve ever gone through an episode of burnout, you’ll know just how much you need to rest (if you’ve never been through it, please don’t try!)
2. There’s magic in our everyday lives too! No, seriously. We take so many things for granted that we forget that God makes REAL miracles happen every single day! The sun rises, the birds are singing, we inhale clean air, our enjoyable meal gets processed into energy, a baby is born, and so on and so forth? Come on, don’t tell me you don’t find that magical? And lets not even get me talking about all those times prayers get answered in amazing ways.
Here’s a little secret… I often envy people in whose lives God seems to have done great miracles. Like the story of a lady who needed money and someone suddenly called her to say that God has put it in their heart to help this lady financially? You know stories like these? I wonder why something like that doesn’t happen in my life! And yet God always reminds me that I have my own miracles happening. Each of us do. Take a look at verse 6 & 7… that’s a promise, and that’s a miracle that WILL happen in your life.
3. Mindset! Now here’s the thing. Whether or not we realize that something is God’s miracle is based on how we think. Mindset is very important and it influences our lives very much. Which means it also influences us in our ability to rejoice. And Paul is very helpful here… look at verse 8, he tells us exactly what we need to think about. Now imagine always thinking about those things… doesn’t that make you happy already?
4. Ups and Downs. “Life is a roller coaster, you just have to ride it” a song goes. And just like the rides with lots of ups and downs make you happy, life has many ups and downs… and that could actually help you rejoice in the Lord. Yes, I mean all those times you felt hopelessness! How does that work? Well, first of all, if you don’t have sad moments, you wouldn’t know what a happy moment is. Your life would be static, without feelings at all, really. Second, it is too often that it is in time of dire need that we turn to God, and truly realize that he’s there! So yeah, the ups and downs of life actually help you rejoice in the Lord! Oh, and here’s another thing… the reason why you’re happy on these rides even if it seemingly plunges you down is because you know it’s safe. You know you won’t crash into that wall that’s coming at you, you know your cart is turning just before that waterfall. It’s all controlled! And guess what? Your life is in God’s hands too… so if you’re about to plunge, don’t worry!
5. Last but not least, SHARE! There’s a quote I can’t remember by whom that goes “Sharing doubles your joys and cuts your sorrows in half”. So share your life with your family, your friends, your praying group at church… share your joys so they can give other people hope, share your sorrows so they can comfort you.