The Kingdom Around the Corner

Some days you just don’t know what’s on the other side of the door.  You just don’t realize how close you are to touching something extraordinary.  Take today, for instance.

I took a tour of what looked like an ordinary set of corridors that could have been a part of any manufacturing plant in the country.  It was a long series of tunnels with air conditioning ductwork and exposed plumbing running over my head.  Employees pushed carts of food supplies past me, and a security guard hustled by from the other direction.

The place was clean and functional, but like most industrial complexes, it wasn’t pretty.  It was just an average looking, dull hallway.

But then, at the top of the stairs, our tour group stepped out into an alley, and thirty feet beyond that?  Magic.

I was suddenly in Colonial America and just down the street, I saw Cinderella’s castle.  I was in the Magic Kingdom in the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, but you would have never guessed it from the backstage areas I saw beneath Mickey’s kingdom.

I’ve spent the week here as part of a fantastic leadership program called The Disney Institute, which gives participants an inside look at the business behind the pixie dust.

Today’s behind-the-scenes tour helped our group see the complex operational organization required to make a place like the Magic Kingdom run seamlessly.  That includes a mile and a half of tunnels that run underneath the park to allow cast members to pop in and out of the guest areas whenever needed.

But the weirdest part about the tour was just how absolutely plain the employee tunnels appear and how easy it is to go from this utilitarian world to a world of beauty and enchantment.  If you didn’t know where you were, you would have no idea that a magical kingdom waited just on the other side of those doors.

The first time we made the jump today, it took my breath away.  Even though I knew where I was, it blew my mind how one second I was staring at a dumpster, and the next minute I was in this pristine wonderland.

Immediately I realized that this was a perfect picture of our world.  We spend most of our days trudging through our plain, ordinary routines.  Who could guess that just around the corner awaits something beyond our wildest dreams?

The Bible says that just beyond the edge of our daily lives there is a kingdom of absolute perfection.  It’s the kingdom of heaven, the place where life is what God intended it to be all along.  No tears.  No suffering.  No evil.  No death.  No regrets.  No shame.

As much as I love Disney, this heavenly kingdom is one with no comparisons – because it’s not a fantasy.  It’s real, it’s eternal, and it’s absolutely free for anyone to enter.  Our ticket has already been purchased.  The cost?  A cross.  The life of the Son of God.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, there’s a place for you in the kingdom of God.  Don’t let religious bullies make it hard or more complicated than it is.  God has a place for you, for free, and He died to make it happen.

Anyone who wants it, anyone who believes and asks for it, gets access to heaven.  Period.

That’s why we celebrate Easter – for the price that was paid and for the promise that was made when Jesus walked out of that tomb.

The beautiful thing is that even now, when you least expect it, heaven touches earth here and there.  You see it in simple acts of charity and kindness. You hear it when someone says the words, “I forgive you.”  You touch it when a healing prayer mends your body.  Changed lives, saved marriages, restored hope.  These are the moments when we step around the corner and stumble into heaven, even if just for a short time.

These things don’t always happen, of course, but that’s because the kingdom is still coming, begun on that first Easter, but not yet complete.

Yet, someday soon the kingdom will come, and this ordinary, average place we’ve called home for so many years will be swallowed up into something beautiful.

Heaven will come at last.  Happily ever after will begin, and all our noblest dreams will finally come true.  Like I discovered today, at any given moment, the kingdom is closer than you think.


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