The most difficult attraction at Disney has always been “It’s a Small World.” I can’t stand being trapped in that little world with all those tinny, squeaky voices singing about their small world.

Nevertheless, I still chose to work in small world – literally. I’m the chaplain on a pediatric ward.

But the voices I hear in this small world aren’t confined to little happy voices. Sometimes, I hear the voice of a mother bargaining for her child’s life or a father promising to become the “man of God” he’s supposed to be.

The voices aren’t always promising, sometimes the voices are angry – vehement voices denying God’s existence while in the same breath cursing the non-existent God. I’ve heard these voices threaten lawsuits while choking out their sobbing prayers that beg for the end of their child’s pain. I’ve even seen where a father put his fist through a wall.

Yet as angry as they get, I often hear them ask forgiveness for their anger. “I’ve told God I’m sorry for getting angry at him,” they confess. “Is God going to let my child die because I got angry at him?”

As I think about that question, I find it helpful to compare how God handles that kind of anger with the way I might handle the same anger from one of my children. I consider what might happen if I grounded one of my teenage daughters for coming home too late.

Perhaps she’d apologize and then ask me to borrow the car again. I might say something like, “I’m sorry, but you’re grounded. Perhaps next week.”

If she responded to me by cursing and stomping to her room, what would you think I should say to her when the next morning she barely manages a mumbled, “Sorry ‘bout last night.”

A) Refuse her breakfast
B) Tell her to start packing
C) Ban her to eternal hellfire
D) Kiss her, tell her you love her, and say, “Let’s talk some more.”

Perhaps it’s tempting to ask, “Am I limited to just one answer?” But, I suspect that most parents would select D.

That’s because while parents aren’t perfect, we’re still God’s creation and thus we can sometimes love, forgive, and give good things. Christian scripture has an interesting parallel to this example.

“What man among you,” Jesus asks, “would give his son a stone if he should ask for bread? Or if he asks for a fish, would you give him a snake? You are bad and {yet} you know how to give good things to your children. How much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?”

The passage teaches that even no-good parents know how to give good things to their own children. And if that’s true, then God must be willing to give and forgive in ways unimaginable to our finite views. I guess that’s why I’ve always had some trouble with people who like to group people into who heaven bound and who is toast.

Sometimes I think that the church has made itself a kind of dispensary where God’s love is kept under a lock – only to be dispensed through the right combination of confessions or creeds. Yet, God’s love isn’t that way. It’s not a controlled item. It’s not even a banned substance.

Unfortunately those folks who see God’s love as having some kind of limit will always be the ones who limit themselves to the crumbs of grace falling from God’s table. And for them, I suppose it will always be “a small world after all … a small, small world.”