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Monday, July 13, 2020

When It All Came Crashing Down

My wife and I watched the Disney “hit” of the summer a week ago: Hamilton. It’s seems like the only thing that company has to cheer about these days. The theme parks have had a disastrous spring. The movie roll outs—aren’t rolling. Theaters are fading to black.

It’s amazing how fast the world can change. The Washington Post highlighted the miseries of the Mouse in their recent article, “How Disney could be facing a lot more than a lost summer.” It may be one of the biggest understatements of the year.

WaPo bases their headline on the stunning reversal of Disney revenue in a single quarter of 2020. A year ago, the magic was still happening at the Kingdom to the tune of $20.3 billion. Not this year. Numbers are not even in the same theme park!

What makes the analysts particularly uneasy is the future. As WaPo states it, “…a growing number of voices are starting to ask whether a more fundamental change is brewing, a change that will affect them beyond one bad quarter. They’re wondering whether a company built heavily on a foundation of in-person gatherings, and on the peddling of an inoffensive utopia that largely exists outside racial identity, can be effective in a prolonged period of isolation and fulmination.”

The words Disney and imagination go hand-in-hand. The new Disney is now heading toward re-imagination. And that vision will likely lack the big dollars they are used to hauling in at the “happiest place on earth.”

Speaking of imagination, a good friend and fellow Christ follower and I enjoyed lunch together recently. Our conversation included this question: Where is the heart and mind of Jesus in all of this—the pandemic, the protests, the economic turmoil?

We both tried to imagine Jesus visiting an American church on a Sunday morning. At the end of the service, we imagined Jesus taking questions. Here was the big one: "When will we get back to normal, Jesus?” (*I shared this example with our church recently.)

As was often the case when people asked the Lord difficult questions, His answer was surprising. Challenging. Even painful.

The imagined reply went something like, "Returning your lives to 'normal' is not my plan. The crises you've been experiencing I've allowed to help you sort out your idols and put your relationship with Me in perspective. Some of you are getting it."

He could have continued, "Sports and entertainment have become your money-draining loves. You've idolized the people in both of these fields. You've become addicted to wealth. Your work and your play are major distractions to your willingness to follow Me. Often with your children, you choose Sunday sports games over worship. Your schedules are demanding and full, with no time for rest and quiet study of the Scriptures."

He wasn't finished.

"No, returning to normal is not the plan. Reviving your spirit and your heart is the plan. Changing your priorities is the plan. Calling the church to love and serve one another is the plan. Let Me know if and when you are ready to 'drop your nets' and follow My plan."

Does that scenario make you feel uncomfortable? It did me. For many, I think God has our attention.

Whether the wealthiest to the weakest among us are getting the message that normal may not ever return remains to be seen. Empty sports arenas and entertainment complexes are forcing us to choose other options. Likely, better ones.

Will all that we think mattered before the virus struck get a complete facelift? Will America post-protests and revolution be better? Or will it drive people deeper into hopelessness?

When it all comes crashing down, it’s time for some re-imagination. Not the Disney kind. The confidence that Disney’s earthly kingdom known as the “happiest place on earth” was misplaced.

Time for the Kingdom of Heaven to take over.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

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