One weekend about 18 years ago I took my then 4-year-old son to Walt Disney world. We had a bunch of fun, and it was afternoon before we knew it. As we talked about which areas we still had to visit, my son said ” dad, can we go to Tom Sawyer Island?” I told him we sure could and we proceeded on to the area of the park where it was. I remember us passing signs on the way showing the island and all the cool stuff you could see there.
So we got to the line and waited about 30 minutes ( not too bad for Disney) before the guy that controlled how many people can go opened up the way for us. We got about 100 feet from the entrance to a cave looking massive rock that had a tunnel for everyone to pass through. I recall feeling a tight squeeze on my hand as we approached, followed by a full on dead stop by my son, and I was basically dragging him for a minute before I realized he was not tired or lazy like I first thought. He was scared.
Micah looked up at me and said ” No I don’t want to go”. So I calmly asked him what was wrong and he said he did not want to go through the dark tunnel. In order to get to the actual island and area he wanted to go, you had to pass through this dark and cold tunnel. Pitch black and shaped like a pretzel so as you go through you are guaranteed to run into the sides of the walls, and other people.
At this point I looked him in the eye, and told him I would take him through safely, and never let go. I promised I would not let anything or anyone hurt him. After he asked about any alternative methods of getting there, he agreed as he took one last look at the sign showing what was on the other side. It seemed to motivate him at least enough to go to the entrance with me. We went in.
About 3 minutes and 500 yards in, we were far enough in that we could not see the light from either side, the entrance or the end. Micah did what many young kids do when they want some attention or are trying to avoid going on any further with something. I call it the ” stop, drop and drag” that every parent experiences at some point. It’s the move where one minute you are walking hand in hand and the next you look down at the end of your wrist and you have this twirling 45 pound weight spinning and dragging their feet.
It was then he said ” no daddy, I don’t want to go let’s go back”. We could not really see each others face but we could hear each other. I said ” Micah, I know this is very scary. I know it is not what you hoped for. However if you will trust me, and hold tight to my hand, I promise to get you to the island that you want to go to. You may bump into a wall or even another person for a few minutes as we go through this dark and cold part but I wont let go of you and I will lead you safely to the other side”. It really was a defining moment for the 4-year-old.
After a minute of huffing and puffing and doing the ” almost crying but not really ” noises while squeezing my hand for a minute he actually said alright. He slowly put both hands around my one wrist and within 3 minutes ( but to him an eternity) we were out the other side. He had a great time there and clearly was glad of his choice to keep trusting.
That story has been a great reminder to me as an adult, when I am facing difficult times. Often times as a person of faith I know what I should do but my flesh, my feelings, are pulling hard in the other direction. I think of that time at Disney world when I , as a father told my child to trust me, and ignore the feelings, and circumstances around him. It reminds me of the promise that all believers have that God will never leave or forsake us. He never has.
I hope today that if you do not have that reassuring hand to grasp on to and trust with all you have, that you would consider calling on your Heavenly Father and taking advantage of His offer to be by your side 24/7. Remember, God will never force Himself on you, you must call out to Him, and He will surely respond. What have you to lose?