Tag Archive: Disney World


I remember having kidney stones several years ago.  There I was at three o’clock in the morning groveling on the bathroom floor begging my wife to take me to the hospital.  I thought I either had appendicitis or was dying.  Death would have been the better option at the time.

They tell me a kidney stone is the closest thing to having a baby.  If that is so and I will believe it to be then I gained much appreciation for the female species that day.  Not only that but God must have made having children real special.  To forget that pain and birth more than one has to be a gift from God.

Once I passed the stone I was amazed.  I was amazed that something so small could cause so much pain.  When they told me I had kidney stones at the hospital I imagined a bolder in my body.  Once it came out, I was disappointed that a stone the size of a sand pebble was the cause.  Just goes to show you how wonderfully we are made.  

I haven’t had a bad attack since.  A few kidney pains came and went over the years.  I figured they were small stones that didn’t need a lot of attention.  That was until we were away recently on a long weekend vacation celebrating our granddaughters eleventh birthday at Disney World.  It wasn’t a three o’clock attack.  This time it waited till four a.m.  I knew what it was as soon as I turned over.  Welcome back you little devils.  I didn’t want to wake everybody up, nor did I want to worry anyone.  Mitigate the pain.  Drink lots of water and keep walking.  That would do it.  Only the room was not big enough to walk.  So…outside I went.  Guess what?  There are not very many people moving around, even at Disney, at four a.m.  They is sleeping. 
It took about three and a half hours for the pain to become bearable.  We will have to wait to see how long it takes to have this bolder pass.  Now to drink as much water as possible.  Hopefully, it won’t take too long and sleep will be possible tonight.  

I believe I have found the reason for pain in our lives especially the life of a believer.  It’s clear in the Holy Bible that suffering is associated with the life of a follower of Jesus.  The prosperity teaching is a lie.  Comfort is addictive.  Often when we are too comfortable in this life, we become myopic.  We live to protect the comfort we have created.  That does not gel with the Biblical teaching.

Pain connects us.  As I walked around and around the hotel I became suddenly aware of things and people around me.  I also began to think of others who suffer.  As I thought of them there was only one thing to do.  Pray.  

The true connection in our world is not through happiness.  Here I was in the happiest place on earth, andI was miserable.  As I looked around, I saw children who had been out in the hot too long being dragged kicking and screaming to the next thing the parents believed will bring them happiness.  I saw wheelchairs and handicap scooters with people who struggled to smile since they are limited.  Happiness is relative, and pain is very real.

There is a verse in Proverbs that basically says, “Don’t sing songs to a heavy heart.”  Why?  Our thirst for happiness in the state of a broken heart only brings more dread.  As I think of my physical pain, my mind wanders to those who suffer emotional pain.  They hide their suffering with a smile and a hearty handshake.  But, their pain is oozing out of them, often behind closed doors.  

Those suffering from clinical depression often can’t get out the front door.  When they do, it’s a struggle to paint a smile, be joyful and sing songs.  They are suffering no differently than my kidneys.  I want to just cut it out.  They often want to end their lives.  

The suicide rate continues to move steadily upwards in our society.  We look around and wonder what drives someone to do such a deed.  It’s their suffering in a world that often does not allow them to suffer.  Recently, a mega-church senior pastor took his own life ,leaving many to wonder.  I’m sure some asked the age-old question, “Was he a true believer?”  Sure he was.  He had reached a point of no return.

A wise teacher once told me, “Everybody has a breaking point.  You don’t know what and when they will get there.”  I have found in seventeen years of counseling ministry the one relative factor is their sense of loneness.  Don’t kid yourself.  They can have a ton of people around them just like I had thousands walking past me at the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs.  But, do they have any idea of the pain?  

I have had a lot of people ask me how to reach their neighbor or their community.  I believe Jesus showed us.  He connected with people.  He connected with their pain and suffering.  But, he had an answer.  A daily relationship with the Lord is the only answer.  So, why does a minister end his life?  When the fellow believers only want to judge their faith by how much joy they have.  We are missing the boat.  A friend of mine told me once to go out and find the “need” or “pain” in our community and find ways to address it.  I’ve been trying to do so for 14 years. Maybe next week I start the Kidney Stone support group.  Don’t laugh too hard.  You might be next.  

As I walked into the room,I sensed something was wrong with my dear friend.  He had a look on his face I had not seen before.  After four years, I was surprised!  He had handled just about everything thrown his way.  I asked him what was up.  His answer surprised me as he broke down into tears.

“John, there is going to be one that will get you,” he muttered.  “I wish I could say to look out for it, but you can’t.  You just don’t know which one will get you,” he continued.  At this point I had no idea what he was talking about.  ‘It’s Jim,” he said.  “Jim’s death has got me deep down,”  he finished.”  That was all I could get out of him as he sat at the table and wept.

Jim was a member of the church.  They did not have any special relationship.  He was an elderly man who suddenly died of a heart attack.  For some reason, this was the one that caught my best friend deep down.  Later, when he was able to talk about it, he said that while he was in seminary, they talked about the one death that will get your attention.

A lot of people don’t realize how much pastors are around death.  For me as a police and fire chaplain, death scenes have become the norm.  I had no idea I would see as much death as I have.  Sometimes I take some time off to process after a critical scene.  In a sense, I try to cushion the blow.  

That was until yesterday.  Little did I think the death of our 15-year-old Papillon dog, Jake, would shake my world.  It was a bittersweet day.  On the one hand, my new dog’s birthday was yesterday.  On the other hand, we had to say goodbye to the happiest dog I have ever known.  We have seen a lot of pets come and go.  Sure it tugs at our heart a bit.  Usually after a good cry we are able to get up and get going.  This one has me.  

I’m tired of death, suffering, and the pain of living in a fallen world.  Maybe it has me since we have lost three long time dogs this past year.  Perhaps, it’s the pending loss of my mother, who the doctor informed us after her latest hospital visit  is “on the clock.”  Her brain is dying.  My sister and I agree; she is already gone but her body remains.  

It’s more than that though.  I’ve seen the death of the young and the old.  I’ve seen death that takes a long time.  I’ve seen it happen real fast.  Too fast actually.  It’s not just the death.  It’s the veil of death that covers our existence.  

I so much want to stop all counseling and just say, “Pick one.”  Either choose life or choose death, but you can’t have both.  In the movie Shawshank Redemption, Red, played by Morgan Freeman,, and Andy, played by Tim Robbins, point out we either “get busy living or get busy dying.”  I think it’s at that level Jake’s death has ventured in to my soul, like Jim’s death touched the soul of my dear friend.

I understand why we are so attracted to Disney World, drugs, alcohol, and anything that can numb the reality.  In Disney everyone lives happier ever after.  With drugs and alcohol, we like to think we can live happier ever after.   Only, we don’t.  Actually, we cause the death of a lot of relationships along the way.

As another friend texted yesterday, death just leaves us empty.  So does divorce.  So does the moving away of a friend.  So does the slow loss of our young abilities.  So does a member of the church who slowly drifts away.  So does dementia.  It’s a side of life we don’t want to look at.  But it’s that world in which Jesus enters.

Believing in Jesus is not only a way to get to heaven.  We have over emphasized the Jesus of John chapter 3.  Jesus also comes to give us life through his death and victory over the grave. He crushes death!  When we follow Jesus, we aren’t just waiting to go to heaven, even though that will be real nice.  No, we are to be carriers of life.  Everything outside of a life in Christ is death.  

Here it is April ,and we are going to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is important to celebrate.  It’s also important to grasp that life in Christ is indeed life that is to produce more life.  It is to redeem a broken marriage.  It is to heal the broken-hearted.  It is bring hope to hopelessness.  It is to be that person who remembers those who mourn weeks and months after this world steals from us.  It is this life that reminds us this is not home.  It is this life that is to be infectious.  

Fellow believers in Christ we don’t have a choice.  There is no “get busy dying.”  We have been given a new life.   A new life in Christ that in its very essence gives us victory over the forces of death in our world.  Instead of complaining, encourage.  Instead of demanding, lend a hand.  Instead of remaining silent, share the good news of the risen Lord.  Instead of shying away, step forward and lend a hand.   Yes, loss hurts, but there is more to come.  

“You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden!”  Matthew 5:14