Friday, October 20, 2006

I don't wanna grow up

"No Sweetie, not today."
"But Mom, I WANT it!"
"I know you do, but we can't get it right now." [insert sniffle here]
"Why can't I just have it?"
"Not today." [cue bitter tears and wailing]

"Please, Dad? This is ALL I want!"
"No, Bud, we're not shopping for you today."
"Then why are we here?"
"We're getting a birthday present, remember?"
"That's not fair!"
"You got plenty of toys on your birthday. It's someone else's turn this time."
"I don't want to go to a stupid birthday party. I don't want to get him a toy."

"Oh oh oh, this is so cool! Can we get it? Please, Mom? I'll love you forever!"
"I don't think so, not today."
"Pleeeeeease, please please please please?"
"Maybe next time." [after "Mom" turns around he reaches, ever so quietly, and buries it in the basket]

Then they came in. A mother holding her youngest daughter accompanied by two more little girls who headed straight for the Care Bear aisle. Ten minutes followed with little giggles and "oh my gosh"es and "look at this! Oh Mom, this is so cool!" Picking their favorites (including the baby, who chose a purple stuffed bear with a heart on the belly) they meandered through the rest of the store clutching their treasures. As they looked at the computer games and the Magnetix and the Easy Bake Ovens they always looked back at the boxes in their hands, each time finding some new exciting feature. A half hour later she said, "Alright girls, it's time to go. Let's go put this stuff back."

They did.

They didn't cry, they didn't whine, they didn't throw themselves on the floor and kick and scream. They went right back to the Care Bears aisle and put their respective favorites back on the shelf where they had found them. They walked to the checkout, each got to pick a small piece of candy, she paid the cashier $1.56, and they all four headed back out through the automatic doors.

"Please, God?"
"No Sweetie, not today."
"But I WANT it."
"I know, but we're not here for you today."
"Then why'd you make me come?"
"I thought you might like to look around...and don't you want to help me pick something to give her?"
"No, I want to help you find something to give ME."
"We can't always be looking for you."
"Can I go wait in the car?"

I throw fits more than I'd like to admit. I try to sneak it when He's not looking. I cry and complain - why isn't it for me? Why do I have to look at it if I'm not the one who gets it? Why can't I have it today?

I learned a lesson from my nieces that day. There's a thrill in just looking at the great things that are out there, even if they don't end up in my possession. I may not get the new toy that is (as my 4-year-old niece would always say) "just what I always wanted", but He always gives me a lollipop, and that alone is worth the trip.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. ~1 Timothy 6:6

Thanks for the reminder, Michelle.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Great Exchange

Based on Romans 1:25 and Isaiah 44:9-20.

He holds the handle and slides the metal teeth horizontally through the wide base. "Timber," he mumbles to himself. It breaks branches of surrounding trees as it falls to the ground.

The axe splits it into dozens of pieces, some bigger than others. He stacks them in his arms, and carries them load by load into the house.

He rubs his hands together over the flame, stirs the pot, and returns to his work.

Skillfully he chisels it away, leaving a dust drifting slowly to the floor. He smoothes the edges, shapes the eyes, polishes the form until something that looks similar to himself is left. He sets it in the corner of the room and drops to his knees. Prostrate, he waits for his supper.

Sitting by the window (still close enough to feel the warmth of the flames) he watches the rain fall on the forest and slowly eats from his bowl. After his last bite he returns to his position on the floor in front of the fireplace.

Months later he slides the metal teeth horizontally through the wide base. "It's a good thing I planted so many," he mumbles to himself. "Stupid termites."

He spent weeks getting ready to plant them. He watched the rain fall on them and the sunlight pull them out of the ground. He cut them. He carried them. He burned half and sanded the other half. He carefully dug the splinters out of his palms and then returned them to a position of prayer. He created his own god. With his own hands he made something that those hands could serve.

Am I any different? I invest my time in relationships. I work hard to improve on my talents. I do a little cutting here, a little chiseling there, a little smoothing of the rough edges. I take the pieces of my life that I think are usable for such noble purposes and I burn the rest to keep me warm and fed and to give me light while I keep busy at my "woodworking". Daily I exchange the truth of God for a lie. Daily I worship the created instead of the Creator. Day after day I bow myself down to the images I have constructed while I watch the rain He provides.

It's time to put all the wood in the fire and just walk through the forest. It's time to put down the tools and just bow before something that did not involve my hands. It's time to exchange the lies for the truth of God.