Yesterday’s trip to Sea World in San Diego gave me a warm feeling. It wasn’t the sun, which was out and was warm. It wasn’t the impressive animal shows, although they were impressive. It wasn’t watching my granddaughters delight in their experiences, which were thoroughly heartwarming. It was the joy on the faces of two little boys and their parents.
I was sitting on a bench in one of the kiddie-ride sections, waiting for my granddaughters, as they moved from the Sea Dragon Drop to the Aqua Scout. As they exited the Sea Dragon Drop, I noticed two wheelchairs at the exit door, each holding a young boy. A man (I assume their father) spoke to the attendant. After a short discussion, the parents of the boys started undoing all the restraints and safety features of the wheelchairs. They lifted the boys, probably around eight years old, out of the chairs and stood by the exit.
After the last group of Sea Dragon riders exited, the parents carried the two boys onto the ride. They buckled them in and then took their seats next to each boy. I have been on that ride with my granddaughter. I know those “adult” seats are not much bigger than the “kid” seats. These two parents squished themselves into those seats so their children could have fun, like every other kid at Sea World. The ride started. It shot up to the top and then began the incremental free-fall drops. With each drop the boys giggled. Their faces lit up in pure joy. Their smiles covered all the space between their ears, and they squealed with delight. The parents smiled too, although I’m sure they were thinking sixty seconds was longer than they anticipated, being scrunched into those seats.
The ride came to a stop. Mom and Dad unwedged themselves from the seats. Each lifted a boy out of their seat and carried them back to their wheelchairs. Their smiles were still stretched across their faces. For sixty seconds or less, they were free. No wheelchairs. No significant restraints. Just that feeling of free falling that causes your belly to catch in your throat. Their smiles didn’t fade, even as their parents replaced all the wraps and braces that kept them safe and secure. Then they were off to the next ride to repeat the same process over again.
I wondered about those parents. Were they as excited when they woke up yesterday as their children? Did they think about how much effort it would take to get those boys in and out of their wheelchairs for each ride they wanted to try? Did they consider how tired they would be at the end of the day, pushing wheelchairs for miles and lifting the boys over and over again? Or did they wake up only anticipating the joy their children would experience in a day at Sea World?
Those parents inspired me. Their selfless love for those boys warmed my heart. A few tears may have escaped my eyes. Or it could have just been a reaction to all the flower pollen that my Pennsylvania eyes aren’t used to in February. Whichever it was, it brought me back to Jesus, as acts of selfless love often do. The Bible tells us that “looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.” Hebrews 12:2 ESV
Jesus endured the shame and agony on the cross that should have been ours. The joy that was set before him was our salvation. He did it all for us…for me. His pain brought about our peace with God. Now he sits on his throne, waiting to welcome us to the place he has prepared just for us. What selfless love!