On July 24, 2000, I told a bald-faced lie. Our family was at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center for a vacation, and after paying for our tickets we were told by a security guard that we wouldn’t be allowed to bring our baby stroller inside. The temperature that day was ninety-nine degrees; our youngest daughter was only eight months old but weighed nearly thirty pounds, and carrying her around all day in the sweltering heat seemed unthinkable. The security officer said that if we went to the main security pavilion we might be able to get a special exemption, so I wheeled her to the office and went inside.
“Sir,” a woman told me, “we cannot give you a permit to use your stroller inside the park.”
I countered, “I wish you would have told us that before we purchased our nonrefundable tickets. There’s no way I can carry her around all day.”
Then she asked, “Does she have a special medical condition? If so, I can give you a permit that you can put on her stroller that will allow you to enter each ride and exhibit through the handicapped access.”
I paused. Wheels started turning. I was desperate. I was stupid. I was sweaty. I anticipated needing back surgery after the long drive home. I looked outside at my daughters jumping up and down, waiting to go inside, and then I did it: I leaned over and said, “Uh, she’s got FBS syndrome.”
“Well, why didn’t you mention that when you came in?”
“It’s rare,” I told her. “I don’t like drawing attention to it.”
She scribbled “FBS syndrome” on a little yellow tag and handed it to me. “Place this on your stroller handle and show it to the operator of each ride and exhibit. They’ll let you right in.”
I thanked her and walked out the door, knowing full well that I was headed straight toward the pit of Hell. I showed my wife the yellow tag. “What’s FBS syndrome?” she asked.
I whispered in her ear, “Fat baby syndrome.”
Lisa laughed, “She’s not fat!”
“Have you held her lately?” I said.
Bypassing Lines and Lessons Learned
The rest of the day, despite the protest of my wife, we used the stroller and rode every ride and walked through every exhibit. The only problem was having to use the handicapped access. As the day unfolded, I began to wonder if God wasn’t using my lie to teach me a greater lesson.
At first I thought it was funny that we were able to bypass hour-long lines and walk straight to the front of a ride. Then I started to notice the people with whom we were spending time: mentally challenged children in wheelchairs, adults with cerebral palsy, kids on ventilators. I’ll never forget the image of one young boy who needed three Epcot workers just to help load his wheelchair onto a ramp.
His head gently lay to the side on a headrest, and his arms were strapped to the wheelchair with large black bands. Behind his back sat a large computer that regulated his breathing. His parents and two brothers walked slowly at his side, adjusting his breathing tube as the Epcot employees gently maneuvered his wheelchair onto the ride.
New Bodies, Finally!
That day marked me. For twelve long hours, ride after ride after ride, I was given a front-row-seat view of the painful lives of the physically broken. For the people at Epcot that day, Heaven will be a day of liberation. There are no ventilators in Heaven, no handicapped access ramps, no beds with rails. No one needs someone else to bathe them, feed them, push their wheelchair, write for them, or hold the phone up to their ear.
In 1 Corinthians 15:42-43, God promises a new beginning for them all.
“The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.”
What an amazing day that will be.
What is something you look forward to about that day?
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