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A lost & found story that will have you on pins and needles

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By Chuck Souder

My family loves Disney World. One of the things they love about it is pin trading.

For the uninitiated, pin trading is a sport at Disney World where you buy pins that depict various Disney characters, rides or experiences and then you display them on a lanyard that is worn around your neck (or held by your dad when you’re riding a roller coaster).  Then you take the pins you have purchased and trade them with other people. 

Doesn’t that sound like great fun?  If this sounds to you like just one more thing the good folks at Disney invented to take your money, I understand where you’re coming from. I know, because at first I didn’t get it either.

But I haven’t told you the best part. All Disney employees (called Cast Members in Disney lingo) who are wearing a lanyard with trading pins are required to trade with you!

That’s right, they have to trade with you – no matter which pin you want of theirs and no matter which pin you want to give them in return. 

Now, some of you very clever folks may be asking, “Why don’t you just buy the pins that you want in the first place?”

The only people who would ask that question are those who, when they need a particular item, go into the first store they come to and buy the item that they need. In other words, men.

All of the women understand that when it comes to shopping (or trading pins at Disney World) the most important thing is the thrill of the hunt. The excitement of looking at every Cast Member’s lanyard, hoping for an extremely rare or unusual or discontinued pin is what this game is all about.

Now that you understand the game, here’s the story. On one occasion, while we were at the park known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios and our children were playing in the “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” playground area, to their delight they found a pin on the ground.

And it wasn’t just any pin; it was a particularly large and expensive one.

Being the good citizens that they are, they immediately took it to the nearest Cast Member and reported that they had found a pin. The Cast Member replied that because there were so many children that visited the playground each day, there was no way to find out who had lost it.

According to Disney policy, it was ”finders keepers, losers weepers,” and the pin was theirs to keep. Happily, we added it to one of our lanyards and went on with the rest of our day.

That night, we went to the end-of-day fireworks and water show extravaganza called “Fantasmic,” which takes place in a large amphitheatre that seats 9,000 people. Rhonda and the kids went ahead to find a seat while I stood in line to get popcorn and drinks.

Upon completing my purchase, I made my way back into the amphitheatre to find my family. When I did, they were speaking with another family that had two children the same age as ours who had just happened to come in and sit beside them.  And if you believe in coincidences (which I don’t), the conversation they were having was a HUGE one.

The children were talking and checking out each other’s trading pins.  Noticing the larger pin on the bottom of my wife’s lanyard, the older boy said, “I had a pin just like that one, but I lost it today at the “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” playground and couldn’t find it anywhere.“

Our family exchanged surprised looks. The mother of that family went on to tell the story about the boy’s realizing he had lost the pin and their retracing all of their steps through the park trying to find it.

They were debating about whether or not they should just buy their son another pin, or to use it as a difficult lesson about the importance of taking care of his things. 

Now, for those of you not paying close attention, this is a truly remarkable story.

There are, on average, 95,000 people that visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios every day. 9,000 of those then close out their day at the amphitheatre for the fireworks show.

The likelihood of us just happening to sit next to the family who just happened to lose the pin that we just happened to find brings to mind the saying “like finding a needle (or a Disney trading pin) in a haystack.”

As my wife told the boy, “It seems like God wanted you to get your pin back.”

And it did indeed seem that way.  It almost makes me wish we’d have given it back to him.

Just kidding.

Now, does God care about Disney trading pins?  I can’t imagine that He does.

On the other hand, He cares deeply about people.  And for whatever reason, it seemed obvious that He wanted that to bless that boy with miraculously finding his lost pin.

The Bible makes it clear that while God may not be concerned with lost Disney pins, He is profoundly concerned with lost people.  In Luke 15, Jesus told three stories—about a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son—to illustrate the lengths to which God will go in order to seek out and restore what is lost.

Perhaps if He were telling the stories today, He might include one about a boy who lost a pin at Disney World.

As someone who was lost but now is found, I’m thankful that in spite of what I had done, God was willing to do whatever it took to reach me.   

 

Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church.  If you have questions or comments for Chuck, he can be reached at csouder@shelbychristian.org.