Okay, I know I’m a grump. Big surprise right? But in my defense I am also passionate, lovable, caring, a willing hug giver and not the least bit afraid to admit that I rather enjoy giggling. It’s also no surprise, if you know me or have read this blog, that I think we as Christians, and the church as a whole, have lost our collective minds on a lot of things. It’s also no surprise that I don’t think there are enough voices in the church calling people back to God and the scripture. But you know what? This isn’t about the myriad of things that I see wrong in our churches and our lives. No, this is about what I see that is right. Those glimpses that God offers us, that let us know that while things can often seem dire, discouraging, and seemingly impossible, He is in control and His spirit still thrives amongst us. Much like my Abram moment that I wrote about in “God and McDonalds”, I got a clear glimpse of God, His Grace, and what is beautiful and right about our Christianity.
I was leading “God’s Backyard” this past Sunday, which is my church’s version of “children’s church”. With that said, I really must preface this story with the fact, that pretty much any time you visit GBY you come away refreshed and reinvigorated. You see God at work, you feel His presence, and you are reminded, in these children, that there is always hope. As I told the director, the kids just “get it”. I suppose that’s probably why Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter in the kingdom of heaven.”
Anyhow, back to the story. I was teaching on the concept of “Hope”. Not really the easiest of things to teach children, plus I was on the backside of what had been a pretty tough couple of weeks. And as I was teaching, I used a picture of Daniel and the lions. I asked the kids if they knew what was going on in the picture. Several hands went up (great sign right there, by the way) But there was one little girl in particular that was bouncing up and down in her chair, just absolutely glowing. If I had to guess, she couldn’t have been more than 6, maybe seven years old at the absolute most. How could I not call on her?
So, I called on her and she just absolutely exploded. She didn’t just tell me and the class about Daniel and the lions, she began with the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (by name no less). She was so genuinely excited to be sharing this with the class, that it was truly amazing. She went point-by-point, hitting them all, at a hundred mile an hour, grinning from ear-to-ear, bouncing up and down in her chair. How awesome is that!?
The excitement! The joy! The passion! When was the last time we saw this from an adult? That wasn’t in the process of using scripture as a weapon? Man, talk about being convicted. Kids get it, pure and simple. And in this little girl, I saw Christ’s words fulfilled, I saw precisely what He meant when He said the words I quoted earlier, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter in the kingdom of heaven.”
Where is our wonder? Where is our ability to believe, despite the world? Despite science? Despite what we perceive to be impossible? Is it possible that Jesus knew the day was going to come where even the most devout believer was going to have to overcome the doubts and cynicism we face today? Never before in the history of the world have we been so educated, so grounded, so steeped in reality. We have libraries upon libraries of information at our fingertips. Our world, so full of information, facts, and studies demands proof for everything.
What proof did this little girl need? The Bible and therefore God had said this, so it is true. Have we truly lost ability to get excited about what we purport to believe? Who cares what the world believes? Who cares what the world tells us is impossible? Who cares what the world considers fairy tales or arcane beliefs of a simpler time and people?
Did not this God that we purport to believe and follow make the impossible, improbable, and unbelievable routine? Did not our Savior after laying dead in a tomb for three days, rise again, having forever defeated death and sin? Do we believe this or not? Or are we just paying lip service. If we truly believe these things for which we claim to follow, then where is our excitement? Where is our devotion? Where is our inability to sit still as we share God’s story?
You know, I for one, am not where this child was, but you can bet that I am setting out to find my way there. I think God wants that same passion, that same excitement, and that same dedication from us. Matter of fact, I think He demands it. How can we be so blasé about something so remarkable, so incredible? Harder to fathom than even a talking, burning bush or a Jewish carpenter rising from the dead.