It wasn’t how we expected to spend our last night at Disneyland.
We had been at Disneyland & Disney California Adventure for five whole days. We had done everything we had wanted to! It was Friday night, and we were tired. But we had plans to enjoy every moment to the fullest. We had a FastPass for the Cars ride for 10:50 PM and the park closed at midnight. We intended to finish strong!
The day before, on Thursday, we had tried unsuccessfully to get a FastPass for the Cars ride. We had rushed to the FastPass ticket station only to discover that they were all out for Thursday. But never fear! We would be sure to get one for Friday!
It is an option to go on the ride without a FastPass, but that would mean standing in line for two hours. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Friday morning, we arrived at the FastPass ticket station early enough in the day to get four FastPasses for the last time slot of the night 10:50-11:50 PM. Success! We were elated and knew just how our entire trip to Disneyland would end: Grand Finale! Cars ride!
My daughter Ivy was especially looking forward to the Cars ride because she sat out every time the other three of us rode the fastest ride, the Incredicoaster. Cars was her favorite, and she couldn’t wait!
But we didn’t expect the rain. It started about 7:00 PM. Yes, we got a little damp. No big deal; we’re from Oregon! And then there was the lightning! It was amazing. Impressive.
But then rides started closing for safety. We did not expect that. And so we sat down to wait for the parade. Then the parade was canceled due to the rain. There wasn’t much left to do because rides were either closed or else they had a two-hour wait. So we just decided to sit and wait for our FastPass for Cars. Only about THREE HOURS to go…Hmmmm...We had an app on our phones to tell us how long the wait times were, and after checking it a few times we realized the unthinkable: Cars ride was closed!! Ughhhh….Would it reopen at all that night? What about our FastPasses? This was our last night! Our last chance!
So we all prayed together that the Cars ride would reopen. Then we made our way to “Flo’s Café” in Cars Land and huddled at a sopping wet table to stay out of the rain. Our clothes were damp. It was chilly. We didn’t really have anything to keep us occupied. We kept checking our app and saw for the hundredth time: Radiator Springs Racers Temporarily Closed. The rain and the lightning kept going strong. The park started to empty out. It was about 10:30 PM.
I started to lose faith.
I thought about our cozy hotel room. Why would we just sit here another 30 minutes feeling miserable when we could just head back now? I decided it was time to help Ivy realize it wasn’t going to happen. I said, “Honey, you know it’s probably not going to reopen. There’s still lightning. And the park is closing before too long. We could just call it quits and go back to the hotel…”
Ivy said, “No! I have faith! I believe! I BELIEVE!” She pounded her fist on the table for emphasis! I couldn’t help but smile.
A man at a table next to us asked, “What is she holding out for?” We explained that we had FastPasses for the Cars Ride and she was convinced that we would still get to go on it. He smiled too and said he hoped we would.
Seth had an idea to send Isaiah to go ask the Cars ride attendants if there was any chance the ride would reopen that night. So Isaiah went off for a couple minutes and then came back and reported, “They said they will always try to reopen rides, even if there is only ten minutes left that the park is open.”
I felt an inkling of hope!
Ivy said, “Can we pray again?” So we desperately prayed to God that He would please help us get on the ride one last time on our very last night!
As it approached 11:00 PM, Seth noticed he hadn’t seen any lightning in a while…He was right! The rain had let up and we hadn’t seen lightning in about 20 minutes or so. We decided to go stand near the entrance of the Cars ride, huddled in the gift shop. The ride is way back in a corner of the park and by this time it was deserted. Long gone were the crowds willing to stand in line for two hours. Everyone had given up since the ride had been closed for hours and nobody wanted to stand in the rain pointlessly. We were there with about ten other people. Waiting.
Suddenly the ride attendant unclipped the chain that blocked the line entrance and he motioned for the few of us waiting to come on through. WHAT??! It was unreal! There was no one else in line! We were heading straight onto the ride! Even with a FastPass we would normally wait about 15 minutes in line. Now we were zipping straight through with no one ahead of us! The ground was slick so Ivy and I took off our flip flops and went barefoot to keep from slipping and we all hustled and half-jogged through the empty passages to get to the boarding area. We were still anxious it might close again before we got to ride!
But it didn’t close. We actually rode it not once, but three times in a row without having to wait any length of time in line! It was our miracle! Each time we hustled off the ride and circled right back in line again. It started to rain again and we laughed our way through our last ride in the rain! It felt unbelievable!
Ivy said, “I told you! I knew it!”
And I had to say, “You were right, Ivy!”
We were all breathless and happy and soaked and amazed. The Morleys will never forget that.
I’ve replayed it in my mind often since then. Especially the part where I wanted to call it quits, cut out early, and give up. My doubts overcame my faith at that point. I didn’t want to spend one more minute “suffering” in the cold if there was not going to be any payoff. Yet my twelve-year-old daughter pounded the table and said, “I BELIEVE!”
How many times do we do that in life? Give up hope, cut out early, and then miss the miracle? I don’t want to be that person. I want my faith to always outweigh my doubts.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
What is it you need to believe God for right now?
Believe that you’ll finally make real friends at church instead of just Sunday acquaintances.
Believe that your spouse will one day give his or her heart to the Lord.
Believe that you will find the right job that will provide for your family in the way you desperately want to.
Believe that one day you can see that person who hurt you and not feel the stab of pain and resentment you’re so used to.
Believe that you will one day reconcile with your adult child who doesn’t speak to you.
Believe that your grief will one day not be as heavy as it is now.
Believe that you really do have something unique and valuable to contribute to the world, and that God will help you discover what it is.
Believe that you will one day get out of debt.
Believe that one day you’ll have the courage to tell someone about your past so that you can start to heal.
Believe that the best is yet to come.
Believe that God will give you a husband. Or a wife. Or a child.
Believe that even though you're elderly and you've already done much in this life, the reason you're still here is because God still has good work for you to do!
Believe that God will physically heal you.
Believe that God will make beauty from the ashes of your life after divorce.
(This one is precious to me. It came to mind this morning, and I see some of your actual faces. I can’t pretend to know how you feel, but I know God sees).
…and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
I need to add that God doesn’t guarantee that He will give us everything we ask for. But He does tell us to ask. And He promises to give us good gifts! If we don’t receive something, it could be that it would actually not be good for us in the way we think it would.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
I don't know what it is that you're tempted to give up on. But I want to encourage you, when the enemy throws doubt at you, use your faith as a weapon. It may feel like you're sitting at Flo's Cafe in the cold, hiding out from the rain, and you're just certain your night is done for.
Don't give up, dear one! Pound your fist on that wet table and say, "I BELIEVE!"