I never dreamed that taking a child to Disney World could be so difficult — or that such a trip could teach me so much about God’s outrageous grace.
Our middle daughter had been previously adopted by another family. I [Timothy] am sure this couple had the best of intentions, but they never quite integrated the adopted child into their family of biological children. After a couple of rough years, they dissolved the adoption, and we ended up welcoming an eight-year-old girl into our home.
For one reason or another, whenever our daughter’s previous family vacationed at Disney World, they took their biological children with them, but they left their adopted daughter with a family friend. Usually — at least in the child’s mind — this happened because she did something wrong that precluded her presence on the trip.
And so, by the time we adopted our daughter, she had seen many pictures of Disney World and she had heard about the rides and the characters and the parades. But when it came to passing through the gates of the Magic Kingdom, she had always been the one left on the outside. Once I found out about this history, I made plans to take her to Disney World the next time a speaking engagement took our family to the southeastern United States.
I thought I had mastered the Disney World drill. I knew from previous experiences that the prospect of seeing cast members in freakishly oversized mouse and duck costumes somehow turns children into squirming bundles of emotional instability. What I didn’t expect was that the prospect of visiting this dreamworld would produce a stream of downright devilish behavior in our newest daughter. In the month leading up to our trip to the Magic Kingdom, she stole food when a simple request would have gained her a snack. She lied when it would have been easier to tell the truth. She whispered insults that were carefully crafted to hurt her older sister as deeply as possible — and, as the days on the calendar moved closer to the trip, her mutinies multiplied.
A couple of days before our family headed to Florida, I pulled our daughter into my lap to talk through her latest escapade. “I know what you’re going to do,” she stated flatly. “You’re not going to take me to Disney World, are you?” The thought hadn’t actually crossed my mind, but her downward spiral suddenly started to make some sense. She knew she couldn’t earn her way into the Magic Kingdom — she had tried and failed that test several times before — so she was living in a way that placed her as far as possible from the most magical place on earth.
In retrospect, I’m embarrassed to admit that, in that moment, I was tempted to turn her fear to my own advantage. The easiest response would have been, “If you don’t start behaving better, you’re right, we won’t take you” — but, by God’s grace, I didn’t. Instead, I asked her, “Is this trip something we’re doing as a family?”
She nodded, brown eyes wide and tear-rimmed.
“Are you part of this family?”
She nodded again.
“Then you’re going with us. Sure, there may be some consequences to help you remember what’s right and what’s wrong — but you’re part of our family, and we’re not leaving you behind.”
I’d like to say that her behaviors grew better after that moment. They didn’t. Her choices pretty much spiraled out of control at every hotel and rest stop all the way to Lake Buena Vista. Still, we headed to Disney World on the day we had promised, and it was a typical Disney day. Overpriced tickets, overpriced meals, and lots of lines, mingled with just enough manufactured magic to consider maybe going again someday.
In our hotel room that evening, a very different child emerged. She was exhausted, pensive, and a little weepy at times, but her month-long facade of rebellion had faded. When bedtime rolled around, I prayed with her, held her, and asked, “So how was your first day at Disney World?”
She closed her eyes and snuggled down into her stuffed unicorn. After a few moments, she opened her eyes ever so slightly. “Daddy,” she said, “I finally got to go to Disney World. But it wasn’t because I was good; it’s because I’m yours.”
It wasn’t because I was good; it’s because I’m yours.
That’s the message of outrageous grace.
Outrageous grace isn’t a favor you can achieve by being good; it’s the gift you receive by being God’s. Outrageous grace is God’s goodness that comes looking for you when you have nothing but a middle finger flipped in the face of God to offer in return. It’s a farmer paying a full day’s wages to a crew of deadbeat day laborers with only a single hour punched on their time cards (Matthew 20:1 – 16). It’s a man marrying an abandoned woman and then refusing to forsake his covenant with her when she turns out to be a whore (Ezekiel 16:8 – 63; Hosea 1:1 — 3:5). It’s the insanity of a shepherd who puts ninety-nine sheep at risk to rescue the single lamb that’s too stupid to stay with the flock (Luke 15:1 – 7). It’s the love of a father who hands over his finest rings and robes to a young man who has squandered his inheritance on drunken binges with his fair-weather friends (Luke 15:11 – 32)…It’s one-way love that calls you into the kingdom not because you’ve been good but because God has chosen you and made you his own. And now he is chasing you to the ends of the earth to keep you as his child, and nothing in heaven or hell can ever stop him…
But here’s what’s amazing about God’s outrageous grace: This isn’t merely what God the Father would do; it’s what he did do. God could have chosen to save anyone, everyone, or no one from Adam’s fallen race. But what God did was to choose a multi-hued multitude of “someones,” and — if you are a believer in Jesus Christ — one of those “someones” was you. God in Christ has declared over you, “I could have chosen anyone in the whole world as my child, and I chose you. No matter what you say or do, neither my love nor my choice will ever change.” That’s grace that’s truly amazing. (Pgs. 81-84)
Source: PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace
George Mallory is the famous mountain climber who died attempting to reach the peak of Mount Everest, and may well have been the first person to reach the peak. But the pursuit of his dream took a toll on his family. In the introduction to the book Last Climb, George’s son John, who is was just three years old when his father perished, speaks of both his pride at what his father achieved and sadness. He wrote “I would so much rather have known my father than to have grown up in the shadow of a legend, a hero, as some people perceive him to be.”
Let me tell you two stories about two men who came from Chicago, USA.
Story Number One: Chicago’s O’Hare International airport is named after one of Chicago’s most famous and heroic sons. Butch O’Hare was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington during the Second World War. About ten weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbour Butch O’Hare was flying his single engine Grumman Hellcat fighter plane off the Gilbert islands. He and another pilot were the only ones aloft when O’Hare spotted a group of nine Japanese bombers heading straight for his aircraft carrier, the Lexington. O’Hare knew the odds were against him – the other fighter planes on the carrier were refuelling and would not have time to take off. It was up to Butch and the other Hellcat to stop the Japanese bombers. The odds were dramatically reduced when Butch discovered the machine guns on the second Hellcat had seized. It was just Butch O’Hare and four minutes between the Japanese bombers and the 2000 crew aboard the Lexington.
Butch dove in and started the attack. The crew of the Lexington watched as he engaged the Japanese bombers – their guns training in on his Hellcat fighter. With astonishing skill Butch O’Hare emerged victorious, shooting down five of the nine Japanese bombers and badly damaging another. The last three were taken out by planes that managed to get off the decks of the Lexington while the air battle raged above them.
President Roosevelt later described Butch O’Hare’s actions as “one of the most daring, if not the most daring, single action in the history of combat aviation.” Butch was promoted two ranks and designated the US Navy’s first “Ace” of World War 2.
Story number two:
Some years before World War 2 a millionaire lawyer known as “Easy Eddie” was involved in illegal gambling rackets with the notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone. Eddie had the patent rights to the mechanical rabbits used in dog racing and he and was brought into the Hawthorne Kennel Club by Capone as a major partner. The races were usually always fixed and although dog racing was illegal Capone and Eddie kept the matter tied up in the courts. This allowed them to continue to run their tracks. When dog racing was finally declared illegal Eddie and Capone simply switched their tracks over to horseracing, which was legal, and continued to fix races and rake in money.
In addition to his race track interests Eddie performed a variety of legal services for the Capone Mob. He looked after mob members arrested for murder, gambling and prostitution and set up elaborate real estate and stock transactions for Capone, himself and other insiders of the gang.
There was however another side to Eddie. Eddie was a father. He had a son and daughters whom he loved dearly, and the wealth he had amassed allowed him to shower everything money could buy upon his beloved children. And in many ways he was a good father. Eddie sought out the best schools for his children and spent lots of time with them attending their school productions and sporting events, and just hanging around together.
But there was one thing Eddie’s money couldn’t buy – integrity and respectability. Eddie’s son finished high school and declared he wanted to go into the naval academy at Annapolis. But to get there you needed more than money. You needed the approval of the congressman for your state.
Eddie decided his son’s future was more important than his own. He approached the authorities and indicated he would be willing to testify against Capone. On the basis of Eddie’s witness Al Capone went to jail for 11 years and his stranglehold on Chicago was broken. Eddie’s son also got into the Annapolis Naval Academy. But for Eddie the price was severe. Capone swore he would kill Eddie and in 1937 Eddie was gunned to death as he drove his car home from work. In his pocket the police found a poem which read:
The clock of life is wound but once
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.
Now is the only time you own.
Live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in time.
For the clock may soon be still.
I know what you’re thinking. What do these two stories have to do with one another? Well, you see, Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’s son.
Source: Adapted from Illinois Police and Sheriff’s News archives 1939-1949
It was the summer Olympics of 1992. It was the quarter finals of the 400 metre sprint. British athlete Derek Redmond was one of the favourites for the gold medal. A lifetime of training had brought him to this moment. The starters gun fired and the athletes burst out of the blocks.
Halfway through the race Derek Redmond was leading. Then disaster struck. His hamstring went and he collapsed on the track. The agony on his tear streaked face was both physical and mental. It was a crushing blow.
Medical attendants ran to assist him. Derek waved them away. He came to race and he was going to finish. He got to his feet and started hobbling down the track.
The crowd was mesmerised. Officials didn’t know what to do. And then an older man ran onto the track. He brushed off officials who tried to stop him. He ran up beside Derek and placed his arms around him.
The man was Derek Redmond’s father, Jim.
“You don’t have to do this son” Jim said.
“Yes I do” Derek replied.
“Then we’ll finish this race together” came the response from Derek’s father.
Arm in arm, with agony on Derek’s face, tears on his father’s, Derek and Jim continued down the track. Derek buried his face in his father’s shoulder. His father’s strong shoulders carried his son physically and emotionally. Jim waved away officials who tried to stop them.
Finally, accompanied by a now roaring crowd, standing on their feet and applauding, Derek Redmond crossed the line. It became the defining moment of the Barcelona Olympics.
Derek Redmond was favoured to medal in the 400m sprint at the 1092 Olympics. When he tore a hamstring halfway through the race his dream died. But his determination to finish the race, with his father by his side, became the defining moment of the Games. A beautiful story of persevering to finish the race and of a father’s heart.
Dick Hoyt has a severely disabled son, Rick. After discovering his son’s love for athletic events Dick undertook to do them with him. Together they compete in triathalons, with Dick pushing his son in a wheelchair for the run, towing him in the swim and cycling tandem in the ride.