My pastor decided to pull a vacation surprise on his four children. "We're going to Junction City, Kansas," Peter told them. "It's where my dad used to pastor a church, and we can have lots of fun there." Meanwhile he made secret plans to spend one afternoon in Junction City, then drive on to enjoy the glories of Disney World.

Ever trusting, his children bragged to skeptical friends, "We're going to Kansas for vacation. It's great!" All during the long drive from Denver to Junction City, Peter kept up morale by describing the wonders awaiting them: playgrounds, a swimming pool, an ice cream stand, maybe even a bowling alley.

After touring Granddad's old church, the kids were ready to check into a motel and go swimming when their dad dropped the bombshell. "You know something, it's kind of boring here in Kansas. Why don't we just drive to DISNEY WORLD!" Mom reached in a bag and pulled out four custom-made Mickey Mouse hats.

Peter expected his kids to jump up and down in delight. Instead, they complained: "Ah, who wants to get back in the van?" "What about the swimming pool? You promised!" "I thought we were going to go bowling!"

The great surprise had backfired. For the next few hours Peter sat behind the steering wheel and smoldered as his children expanded on all the advantages of Junction City over Disney World.

Never one to miss a homiletical opportunity, Peter turned this fiasco into a fine sermon illustration, quoting C. S. Lewis: "We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea." In a letter to his friend Malcolm, Lewis ...

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Philip Yancey
Philip Yancey is editor at large of Christianity Today and cochair of the editorial board for Books and Culture. Yancey's most recent book is What Good Is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters. His other books include Prayer (2006), Rumors of Another World (2003), Reaching for the Invisible God (2000), The Bible Jesus Read (1999), What's So Amazing About Grace? (1998), The Jesus I Never Knew (1995), Where is God When It Hurts (1990), and many others. His Christianity Today column ran from 1985 to 2009.
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