Even Better Than Kennywood
In Pittsburgh, there is an iconic amusement park named Kennywood, which is an integral part of growing up in that area. Our school district holds a community picnic there the third Thursday in May, with a bonus scheduled day off on Friday to recover. Kennywood Day is a highly anticipated event to hang out with friends and neighbors, ride roller coasters, eat Potato Patch fries and funnel cakes, and to celebrate the school year winding down. If nature cooperates, we welcome summer by wearing shorts and showing off pasty Pennsylvania skin that hasn't seen the sun in months!
When our kids were very young, my husband and I planned a surprise trip for our family's first visit to Disney World during Kennywood week, taking advantage of only three missed school days and hoping May would be early enough to precede brutal Florida summer heat. To our dismay, the unveiling of this surprise did not go over as envisioned.
Our kindergarten son was distraught at the idea of skipping Kennywood Day for an unfamiliar Disney World vacation! C’mon, what kid does this? His lack of understanding was shocking yet funny. Although we promised him Disney would be a better place and described how fun his first plane ride would be, he was not convinced and still fretted about what he'd miss.
Needless to say, his perspective changed after meeting "Toy Story" characters Buzz Lightyear and Woody and experiencing all the other delights of Disney World. Coincidentally, a classmate's family also made Kennywood week a Disney trip, so he got to ride in the parks with a school friend after all.
I've since thought about this "unwanted" surprise family trip many times, particularly when I read this verse: "Unto him that it is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." (Ephesians 3:20)
This verse is at the end of a letter where the Apostle Paul desires his fellow believers to comprehend the breadth, length, depth, and height of God's love for us — a God who loves his children so much we can only struggle to even fathom its measure, who gives us exceedingly above what we ask or think!
There may be times in life when we're satisfied with familiar surroundings and traditions like Kennywood Day, but the Lord may have something better planned. He is able to give us more than we even think possible or ask of Him! If that doesn't paint a picture of a loving Father, what does?
That's not to say that the better things God plans for our lives always feel or play out like a day at an amusement park. The scripture also tells us, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9). Our definition of better and God's may not always align. But, without a shadow of a doubt, I do know this: His plans for us are constructed out of boundless love and are for our eternal well-being and perfection.
Sometimes we see God's fulfillment of an "exceedingly above" as a missed Kennywood Day in our lives and marvel at what God has done — beyond what we asked or wanted for ourselves. Other times we will not understand the scope of what He's doing (or not doing) in our lives until we reach Heaven's shores. In either case, the message is the same. It's OK to skip Kennywood Day. Trust Him. He has wonderful things planned for you!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.