I just returned from a visit to Disneyworld – the so-called “happiest place on earth.”  In three more months I’ll visit Moldova, which, according to one author who was ranking countries on a misery scale, “the most depressing place on earth.”

Disney was fun, though I couldn’t help laughing every time we passed a squalling kid for whom the magic of the Magical Kingdom was momentarily lost; or some exasperated parent whose last nerve had been plucked by a child who was too distracted to attend to carefully reasoned instructions on staying together.

The whole Magical Kingdom thing got me to thinking about all the kingdoms we are building for ourselves.

Disneyworld must be the ultimate destination in a child’s quest for happiness (and a parent’s quest to bring happiness to his child).  The payoff for the thousands of dollars it costs and the aching feet it produces are memories, quality time with kids and perhaps a little esteem among our peers.

Workland is another theme park in the kingdom we’re building.  We visit it often and it’s filled with a variety of “attractions”:  Meet the Micromanaging Boss Character; Under the Sea of Work (and Drowning); Inept Co-Worker Mountain; The Grueling Travel Coaster; and Pirates of the Commission.  The payoff for your trouble is a paycheck and occasional recognition; both important.

After a season pass to Workland, some adults like to decompress in Vegas, their grown-up version of the Magic Kingdom.  (Yikes, we won’t even go there today boys and girls).  I guess there is a payoff here for some, but those cherries seldom line up in a row!

And then there’s the Kingdom of God.  For many, this is an optional kingdom that can be postponed or skipped altogether.  Others pick and choose the parks they want to visit there.  Quite a few enjoy WorshipWorld.  It’s lively and comfortable; educational and inspiring.  Then there’s, It’s a Small Group World After All, a great “meet and greet” opportunity as well as a chance to dig deeper into the mysteries of God and life.

But I’d like to draw your attention more toward the place too few of us want to consider in God’s Kingdom:  UttermostPartsoftheWorld.  That’s where you’ll discover Orphanland….PovertyWorld….StrangerCity.  These are at the furthest edges of the Kingdom.  They’re harder to get to and more expensive to boot.  As destinations, they can be uncomfortable and even dangerous.  But the payoffs in terms of discovering the very purpose of your life and getting in touch with the best of who you are – these are truly priceless!

The JMI Benefit Gala on Oct. 8th is a celebration of this remote part of God’s Kingdom and the children who inhabit it.  The stories we will share come from the most tender places in God’s heart. 

RSVP if you still can.  Make a one-time gift to Make Justice Personal at www.justiceandmercy.org/donate if you can’t.  Because after all the Kingdom parks we build are closed for good, this is the one everyone will be talking about!

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