Tag Archives: narrative

The Glory of God’s Absence

by Michael Gallup

There is this interesting story that comes near the beginning of First Samuel. The Israelites are battling the Philistines (I know, big surprise) and are losing. So the Israelites get the Ark of God and bring it out into battle with them. Yet something funny happens at the this point, the Israelites are completely defeated and lose the Ark. Not only are thousands of the sons of Israel slain, but the very presence of their God, Yahweh, has left them. The news is so shocking that Israel’s chief priest Eli dies at the reception of the news. His daughter-in-law goes into labor at the sound of the shocking report and dies in the process. As she is dying, she names her son Ichabod, which means ‘no glory.’ In her dying words she sums up the desperate condition of her people: “The glory has departed Israel.”

Now we have to take some time to understand the desperate situation Israel finds themselves in this story. Yahweh is the defining attribute of this people, they are keenly aware that without Him they have nothing. They have no protection against their warring neighbors, they have no leader. The only reason they occupy the land that is so precious to them is because the glory, Yahweh, has been with them. And now all that they are has been stripped from them. They no longer have any real hope, any real future. Without Yahweh they are no longer Israel but merely a group of sojourners, former slaves in a foreign land. Their very source of being is gone, the glory had departed.

I think that if we are honest with ourselves there are those times when God feels like a figment of our imaginations. These are times when we parade out our spirituality in hopes that it will have some effect against the various trials of this life and yet not only do we find ourselves defeated, but God Himself seems to have left us all alone. We may not be willing to admit it, but the glory has departed. These can be very trying times. Nothing appears as it once did; we become hopeless in a way that deteriorates our very drive to wake up again. These are times when inevitably something must die.

This is a familiar story. In fact the succession of events in the history of Israel are rather cliché, with God and Israel tottering back and forth between blessings and cursings, between presence and absence. Yet when you isolate an episode like the one found in Samuel, it magnifies the despair behind the absence of God. Yet, we have the privilege of knowing the rest of the story. God returns and all of Israel unpops the cork and throws one heck of a party. And it is no ordinary party, not just another Friday evening, but an explosion of celebration, a once-in-a-lifetime extravaganza. I’m sure years later they will sit around the campfire reliving that night, perhaps growing a bit embarrassed about how undignified they acted. The joy is certainly not unfounded, for God left and they had no reason to expect His return, but here He comes and it is good news indeed.

However, we do not have the luxury of knowing the end of our own stories. We have no way of knowing if the dark night will pass. In the moment of pain, it could seem that all is lost. But we should know better. These stories and even are own are testimonies that although God may seem distant now, He will not always remain so. There is a day coming, when we too will lose our dignity in joyous celebration. The glory may have departed but it is not lost forever and that is good news indeed.

I mentioned earlier the inevitably of death during these times of divine absence. In the moment, death seems to have the ultimate say, the final word. As we acquire scars, it can seem as if our state is deteriorating. But it is in the dying and in the scars that true life and true beauty emerge. Just as the soil cannot produce its yield until it is broken, nor can we truly thrive unless we are pruned. These times when God is absent remind us that He is all we truly need, that He is all we truly hunger for. And that realization kills the things that have seized our attention away from Him. That realization brings death and scars, but by God, it also brings life.

The good news is that today is not the end of our stories, even if today brings death, because death no longer has hold of the final chapter. The joy is that even in the face of the Absence of God, we can rejoice in His ultimate return. The beauty is that we can pull the cover off our wounds and see them for what they are, simply the breaking of our soil so that we may finally blossom.

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Creation Carries a Cost, Beauty a High Price

By Michael Gallup

My wife is a talented seamstress and knitter. She has given herself to use the gifts and talents God has given her to create. I have seen the joy that this new work has given her and it has inspired me. There is something remarkably beautiful about seeing this woman create. However, like anything of worth, it is often hard for her to do the very thing she loves.  And, if we’re honest, we all have the same struggles.  Why is that?

Throughout the age of the church perhaps the biggest theological debate has been over the problem of evil.  This is a debate that still stirs us today and can be summed up in a simple question: “If God is good, then why do bad things happen?”  If God is all the things that make Him God (omnipresent, omniscient, all-powerful, all-knowing, holy, loving, etc.)  then why or how could His creation look so, well, ugly sometimes. The ground was not even done cooling before Eve sunk her teeth into that Pandora’s box of a fruit.  Couldn’t He have seen this? Couldn’t He have prevented this? Why even bother in the first place?

I will not pretend to have the answers to these questions.  Men much wiser than I have grappled with them only to be left defeated. Yet, I believe I know at least a piece of the puzzle.  God is daring.  Creation always has been and always will be risky.  To literally give of yourself to make something unique, to truly write something beautiful, takes sacrifice.  God gave us His image and in doing so, He knew what He was risking but I believe He knew it was worth it too.  He was willing to give what ever it took to finish His work.  He knew that man would have the capacity to be like Him and He was willing to share His glory, and yet almost before He could finish calling His work good, it no longer was.

Going back to my initial question of why we struggle to do the things we most love, it may be that deep down, in the God-image part of us, we know that it may cost us everything. We know that there are things out there, that if we let them, we will love so much that we will die for them: peace, equality, food for the hungry, and so on.  And we just aren’t sure that we are truly ready to sacrifice. It is frightening indeed to face the end of ourselves and not know, I mean KNOW, how it will all pan out.  Praise God that He does not leave us alone there in the fear; He has shown us the way.

As I said, creation cost God. But it would soon cost Him everything. In the incarnation, God became flesh in the man of Jesus. He lived amongst us for several reasons, but most of all, to restore the Father’s prize. I love how human Jesus is at times. In the Garden before His betrayal, He felt most pointedly the sacrifice He would have to endure and for a moment wished it didn’t have to be. And on the cross, in agony, cried out to His Father the same question many of us in the dark night of our soul have been too afraid to ask, “Why have you forsaken me?”

In Jesus, God lost everything: His glory, and His life.  Yet in Jesus, we gained everything: His glory and His life!  That, my friends, is truly beautiful indeed.  Beauty is not free, it may cost us everything, but it has always been and always will be worth it.

******

We welcome Michael Gallup as one of the “servers” at the Neighborhood Cafe. Michael will be writing our Monday blog. Michael once had a truck named possum. He is a member of The Neighborhood Church (tnc3.org) and is attending Denver Seminary. He writes a blog at www.asprigofhope.blogspot.com

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Fifth Most Important Day in History: Are You a Giver or a Taker?

By Eugene C. Scott

I could hardly breathe the narrow streets were so crowded. This was the fastest way to the temple but it was not a good part of the city. I hated these grabbing people. Not Grandmother. Grandmother hated no one. Nor feared them. She hobbled along using her cane to pry her way through the middle of the crowd as if she owned the city. She moved fast for an old cripple.

“Grandmother, wait,” I called as she turned a corner.

“Grand . . .  ,” I began again but a rough dirty hand crushed my voice back down my throat. I tried to scream but the hand clamped harder. I tasted blood, like metal. The man drug me me backward into a doorway. I kicked and twisted, crying. He forced me to the ground and bent over me, cruel eyes raking me. He grabbed at my body and tore my robe. I screamed. Then I saw Grandmother behind him. She raised her cane and brought it down on his hairy ear. Blood burst from his head and he howled. I jumped up and ran and got stuck again in the crowd. I couldn’t breathe, even to cry. Then there was Grandmother suddenly beside me, smoothing my hair, taking my hand.

“He was an animal,” she spit. “But Yahweh is our strong tower, our protector,” she said shaking her cane. She did not release my hand all the way to the temple. I looked at her thinking she was my protector.

My tears dried by the time we reached the temple. But my heart still quailed. A shabbily dressed, skinny Rabbi was teaching there. We stopped to listen. He looked up and there was peace in his eyes.

“Wait here my child,” Grandmother told me and limped across the court to the temple treasury. A man in purple robes, with a gold phylactery tied on his forehead, pushed in front of her and threw a large purse in, shrugging at the temple guards. He relished their silent praise. I shivered.

Men. Even in purple robes they were animals.

Undeterred Grandmother bowed her head and dropped her coin in on top of the man’s wealth. This is why we had come. To thank Yahweh for all he had done for her.

The Rabbi’s voice came soft but strong from right beside me, “I tell you the truth this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

How did he know Grandmother was a widow? I wondered. That we were poor was obvious.

Then the Rabbi turned and faced me and all my questions faded. This man saw inside me, knew me. But he did not need anything from me. I could see in his face–strong, plain, firm, satisfied–he was not a man like all the others, like that animal. His smile landed on me like a gift not a demand. It covered me like a cloak. He gave it expecting nothing in return.

Grandmother and I returned home by the longer road.

“Did you know that Rabbi?” I asked her.

“No, child.” she said.

Four days later we heard he was killed as punishment with two other thieves. At first I thought it was a mistake. But Grandmother said it was true. He had died on a cross. Still I knew it was a mistake. That man I had seen at the temple was no thief. That man knew about giving, not taking.

This day–the fifth most important in history: Jesus has four days left in what we call life. The Temple courts are full of people from all over the world. Rich people, powerful people. Yet he notices an old woman with no money and no influence. And he admires her. Like him she is a giver not a taker. Does Jesus receive hope from her actions that his gift too will be bigger than it looks?

Read Matthew 21:20-23:39, Mark 11:20-12:44, and Luke 20:1-21:4.

Also, go to tnc3.org for info on how The Neighborhood Church is remembering this week in history.

Two thousand years ago this week one man turned history upside down. I would give anything to have been there, seen him, heard his voice. Instead we can only use our imaginations to re-enter ancient history. Each day this week, called Holy Week, we are going look at this day in ancient history through the eyes of a fictional character who witnessed part of that day as Jesus lived it. Join us as we believe a better story: the greatest, truest story ever told.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What Happened on the Sixth Most Important Day in History?

By Eugene C. Scott

Two thousand years ago this week one man turned history upside down. I would give anything to have been there, seen him, heard his voice. Instead we can only use our imaginations to re-enter ancient history. Each day this week, called Holy Week, we are going look at this day in ancient history through the eyes of a fictional character who witnessed part of that day as Jesus lived it. Join us as we believe a better story: the greatest, truest story ever told.

“Little David, you need to go to Jerusalem. Maybe there will be something for you there,” my friend Baruch told me.

Baruch was right. One swipe with my blade–it made a small sound, snick–and the fat pouch dropped into my hand. Then I was off to the next contributor. They paid me no mind, a dirty, hungry run-away. Looking at me meant touching me, caring.

Besides they were listening to the Rabbi with death on his face. He was teaching from under a leafy fig tree. The Rabbi gestured toward the tree. Snick, and the next pouch was mine. It was just like shearing sheep. I tucked the money inside my robe and eyed another contributor who had more than he needed.

“Ohhhh,” the crowd moaned. Someone pressed against my back.

I’m caught, I thought.

Then I saw it. The fig tree. It’s leaves were suddenly brown, withered, trembling. One leaf dropped to the ground, lifeless like the sparrow I once hit mid-flight with a stone.

“He killed it with only words,” an old woman in front of me said.

The Rabbi lifted his voice, his eyes grabbed mine, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for . . . . . . in prayer.”

I pulled my robe tighter over my stolen money. It felt heavy against my thigh. I slipped behind the old woman. The Rabbi strode away from the dead tree and away from Jerusalem. The mummer of hundreds of Jews singing Psalms rose with the dust from their feet. He–they called him Yeshua–walked with dangerous determination. Enough to finally change things.

Those brave, or foolish enough to follow him, would see him hung on a Roman cross. I was one of the foolish ones. That day the pouches under my robe became even heavier. I took them to the temple and left them. Baruch was right. There was something for me in Jerusalem.

*****

This story illustrates small things, seemingly unimportant things–some call them butterfly effects–often become bigger than we ever imagine they could. A small, insignificant boy saw a poor, homeless man wither a fig tree. And then walk to his death, joining thousands of others killed on Roman crosses in his day. The Roman government barely noticed, the gossips and story-tellers (news media) quickly moved on to bigger stories. Jesus made a choice that would tear the fabric of history. And something changed this day, at the very least millions of lives we have no record of.

Hebrews call this day Yom shenee, the second day. In the modern world we call it Monday, the first day. In whatever language you speak, on this day some two thousand years ago Jesus was terminal. He had five days to live. He made small choices that propelled him toward the cross rather than run away from it. Thus, by the choices Jesus made, and the ripples in time those choices would send out, this is the sixth most important day in history.

Had you been there what would you have seen? Would you have followed? What decisions would you have made? What would Yeshua have seen in you?

Eugene C. Scott was changed because of those choices Jesus made. He also loves to read and write stories. Eugene is currently writing another blog called The Year of Living Spiritually. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following that blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

Read more about this day in history in Matthew 21:12-19, Mark 11:11-19 and Luke 19:45-46.

Also, go to tnc3.org for info on how The Neighborhood Church is remembering this week in history.

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Is Believing in the Easter Bunny and Jesus the Same?

By Eugene C. Scott

Easter raises grave questions. Like why did the Easter Bunny stop coming when I turned ten years-old? Did I do something to offend him? And is pink a legitimate color? Really, pink?

But seriously. As bright and cheerful a holiday as Easter is, it can call us to consider deeper issues.

I only remember–well–two Easters from my childhood. One was a typical American Easter. My family owned horses and on this particular Easter Sunday we gathered all the aunts and uncles and cousins–a huge crowd–at the horse pasture for a picnic and Easter egg hunt. Surrounded by towering cottonwood trees, us kids tore up the moist spring earth hunting eggs. A Colorado blue sky soared above us. It was a blast.

Yet to my knowledge none of us asked why we and other entire families–an entire nation–took one spring Sunday to dress up, decorate eggs, eat ham, and celebrate. I knew nothing of going to church. What on earth were we celebrating?

Humans do many strange things. Not the least of which is contrive an entire commercial season/industry around a six-foot tall bunny that lays and delivers candy filled eggs. We are–if nothing else–inventive.

The other Easter I remember was also a typical American Easter, though atypical for me. That chilly spring Sunday in 1973 I joined thousands of others–billions worldwide–at an Easter worship gathering at Red Rocks Amphitheater west of Denver (see Lent: Is Your Life a Feast or Famine?). Unlike my other Easter memory, everyone knew why we rose with the sun and shivered in the cold mountain air.

Humans believe many strange things. At this point some of you may ask: what’s the difference between believing in a six-foot, egg laying bunny and a man who came back to life? No one I know personally has seen either. Both are highly improbable.

Yet there is a difference between believing in a still living Jesus and a big, cute bunny.

First, though no one I know has seen Jesus physically walking around their neighborhood, over 400 people in Jerusalem and its suburbs did see and touch him alive days after he was killed on the cross. No one over age ten–and maybe Jimmy Stewart–has seen a real, living Easter Bunny, however.

I know the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection is a deep pool and many good and intelligent people can argue both for or against it. That argument can take place in the comment section below or in a future blog. My point here is that credible people claimed to see Jesus alive after he died. That truth begs us to debate and discuss it’s veracity and this contention alone raises one reason for celebrating Easter well above the other.

Second, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, I believed in the Easter Bunny for ten long years. Sadly that belief changed nothing in my life, except maybe bestowing on me a life-long love of chocolate and the ensuing cavities and pimples. Believing or not believing in the Easter Bunny meant nothing.

Compare this with what happened to me in the years between that Easter in the horse pasture and the Easter at Red Rocks. In the summer of 1972–in the mountains above Colorado Springs–I met someone who so powerfully impacted me that I eventually gave up my suicidal life of drinking, drug abuse, fighting and failure. This person saved my very life. And though I still quit high school, this person convinced me I had value and worth–and eventually a purpose. Because of this person, I gave up self-loathing and came to understand the power of love. I no longer wallowed in my brokenness and mistakes, wishing I had never been born, but rather began to change from the inside out. Even in pain, I now had hope, sometimes even joy.

Before I met this person, I could not imagine living longer than age thirty. I had no dreams, hopes, plans. Today I am fifty-four (a very, very young fifty-four). Today I have more plans and hopes for the next year than I had for my whole life back then.

Who made such a difference for me? Who was this person?

You may have anticipated the answer–and some don’t want to hear it. Some want to relegate my dramatic change to anything and anyone else: luck, fate, determination, growing up.

But that June day, below the silent pines, my heart was empty and broken.  And I met not an Easter Bunny, not fate or luck, and I can promise you I had no determination and had no intention to grow up.

That day I met a living Person: Jesus. I could not see him nor touch him. And I may not be able to convince you Jesus lives. But I felt him and knew he was real and with me. With Jesus’ power and friendship, a newness began to grow in me as if my very cells were being recreated. I came to life that day because of someone who came back to life 2,000 years ago. We may laugh with children who believe in the Easter Bunny. But believing in Jesus has changed countless lives for thousands of year. The two cannot be compared.

The Easter Bunny and chocolate eggs and picnics are fun. But Easter raises grave questions because it is a celebration of Jesus being raised from the grave.

Eugene C. Scott writes the Wednesday Neighborhood Cafe blog.  If you’re reading this on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO

Beginning on March 13–the Sunday following Ash Wednesday–we will begin a Lenten series titled “Embrace: Discover, Desire . . . Jesus” at The Neighborhood Church.  During worship we will explore those things of God we can embrace and add to our lives as a response of love to Jesus.  These worship gatherings will also include hands-on opportunities to practice these things God asks us to add to our lives.  Join us.  See tnc3.org for worship times.

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

How to Be a Revolution: Read Your Bible

By Eugene C. Scott
Revolution! Facebook–and Twitter even–is being given partial credit for the overthrow of dictator Hasni Mubarak in Egypt. Protesters logged on to Facebook to share information and to gain an unfettered audience for their cause. Words–freely and virally disseminated–drove the Egyptian revolution. Thus informed and motivated, thousands of brave men and women stepped out of the virtual world and into the real one to face bullets, rocks, sticks, imprisonment and possibly death in order to gain freedom. We salute them and pray freedom takes root and grows as wild as weeds.

But just as Al Gore did not invent the Internet, so the Internet did not invent freedom of thought and expression. As seismic as its impact has been, the world wide web is simply the latest version–Freedom.4.0 so to speak–in a long line of word weapons we have wielded in the fight for freedom.

 

Original case for the 1611 Bible

Ironically 2011 is the 400th anniversary of one of human history’s greatest triumphs of the written word in our continuing battle for freedom. Similar to how we witnessed the successful end of the Egyptian protests (we hope and pray), people in the year 1611 saw the end of a violent 200 year revolution. With words, and fierce faith and determination, the protestors finally triumphed.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before that–some two thousand years ago–Jesus, not the written word but the living Word, started a revolution in another time of severe economic, political, and religious oppression delivering us freedom never before imagined. This freedom promised not the mere overthrow of a despot dictator or corrupt system but rather the release of our bodies, minds and spirits from the tyranny of sin and corruption. We no longer had to cower to our own fears, cruelties, hates, frailties, and failures. Nor those of others.  Jesus proclaimed the truth would set us free.

What truth? That his life, death, and resurrection freed us from guilt, fear and separation from our Creator. Lean not on a ruler, president, government, religious system, or philosophy for what you need. These are blank-eyed idols. Dead. Jesus said. Then Jesus even conquered that ultimate tyrant: death.

In words inspired by God himself, Jesus’ followers wrote down the story and truth of Jesus’ revolution. Slowly–but just as virally as if the very air carried the story–the Word spread. First slaves, women and children learned they were valued and free in Christ. Boldly they struck out to live new lives. Then others bravely joined in. Often facing ridicule, torture, and death for their beliefs. Eventually even kings, dictators, and governments bent their knees to Christ the different kind of king. The good news of freedom in Christ conquered much of the world. Even the Roman Empire was reborn, this time with a soul.

Then slow tragedy struck. The Word, the story loved and lived by so many, was captured by the elite. Written in Latin, a language common folk no longer spoke, this great story of freedom disappeared from the streets and alleys and kitchens and living rooms and squares and markets of life. With the written Word locked in monasteries, cellars, libraries, studies, and castles, freedom vanished. The truth of Jesus‘ kind of freedom became a mere shadow of itself, like a wonderful childhood story heard before the fire but now only vaguely remembered and smiled at. Worse yet, the elite added untrue elements to the story. With their elite and twisted knowledge and power, these corrupt ones sucked freedom, faith, belief, truth, and life from their people like early versions of J.K. Rowling’s dementors.

But God kept for himself a remnant, a faithful few who read God’s amazing story in Latin and Greek and Hebrew and saw the truth shining from its pages like a search light in a dark sky. Then for two hundred years this remnant, men–and probably women too but unfortunately history did not record them–with names like Wycliffe, Huss, Gutenberg, Erasmus, Tyndale, Luther, Knox, Calvin, and Cranmer began to love and live Jesus’ original story again. Not only that, they began to retell it–translate and publish it–in the language of the people: common German, French, and finally English. Many died for this. Burned at the stake, tortured, shunned, hated. But they kept protesting, fighting.

Then in 1611 God drew all the work and struggle into one beautiful Book. That was the year King James authorized the publishing of Jesus’ revolutionary story in common, though beautiful and poetic, English. Finally, those translating and publishing this scared story would not be held in contempt or killed for making it available to the common people. Freedom was reborn.

Today we–and even the Muslim Egyptian protestors–are children of those brave revolutionaries. The historical strings that tie us to these ancient protestors (today called Protestants) have been lost, cut, and often purposefully obscured. But their God given love for Jesus and his truth about freedom drove them to fight against religious and political oppression. We bask in their work. Much of our belief in freedom of speech and our obsession with free thinking, learning, and expressing our beliefs and ideas is rooted in the story of Jesus–who spoke out against religious oppression long ago–and in the story of those who followed him and believed that every person should have access to this book of truth.

Today we call that book the Bible. Four hundred years ago this year, the Authorized King James version of the Bible was first published. Since then, it is the “most published book in the world . . the only book with one billion copies in print.” The King James Bible, along with its predecessors and descendants is a book of revolution: personal, national and international.

There is probably a copy of it, looking deceptively quaint, hidden somewhere in your house. Happy four hundredth birthday King James! Break out the Book and celebrate.

Eugene C. Scott writes the Wednesday Neighborhood Cafe blog.  If you’re reading this on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For?

by Eugene C. Scott

Have you ever found something you weren’t looking for? It happened to me a few years ago when I accompanied a nine year-old boy on a search for his lost glasses, despite that he couldn’t remember exactly where he lost them. I went only to quell my guilt for not searching when we would inevitably go purchase another pair. On the upside, this particular nine year-old was a delight to be with even when searching for a needle in a haystack.

We parked my truck near the last place he remembered having his glasses—a long, winding walking path decorated with large river rocks and landscaping bark. The boy had lost his glasses on the way to–or at–or in the universe near–the new skateboard park that was about a mile from our house. I knew the path well and was naively picturing the most likely places to search. But the path had only served the boy as a touch stone, a tether to which he loosely tied himself while looping, wending, and winding to the park. But I didn’t know that at the time so I clung to the path searching every inch of its pavement.

“I didn’t walk that way,” the boy told me shaking his head.

“Where then?” I shrugged.

He pointed off the path to the rocks he had climbed and vaulted from. I searched the bushes around those rocks. Next we left the path entirely and hunted around a statue of a flying horse he had investigated. Then cut diagonally through a parking lot. But even that was not direct. He showed me how he had climbed over the sidewalk railing and dipped behind the dumpster and sauntered through a restaurant (I asked them if they had seen his glasses) and out the back door that let us out on the path again.

I shook my head. His route was truly random!

Back on the path, we peered under every weed in the spot he claimed he had stopped to chase a garter snake.

“I bent over to look at it and I bet my glasses slid off without me knowing,” he said.

I agreed and engaged in the search earnestly. But we came up empty and continued by scouring every dink and dodge he took off the path until we finally reached the skate park.

All the while, we had a fun conversation about snakes and any other nine year-old stuff that came up. He had definitely not taken a mathematically precise power walk and our search therefore, was not systematic. I observed even now, trying to be serious, the boy didn’t so much walk as bounce, light and airy with his feet only touching the ground for the fun of it. He taught me the names of various skateboard moves and I saw the familiar walking path as if for the first time. We spooked another garter snake and marveled at how fast they are. We talked about likely fishing holes in the river. We wondered what fun things we could do with the $70 to $100 his new glasses would cost to replace, if we found his old ones.

Reversing the Apostle Paul’s meaning “I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child” and I enjoyed every moment of it. Being a nine year-old ain’t so bad.

Maybe that’s what Jesus tried to get us to see when he called the children onto his lap and told his adult followers to have a child-like faith. Maybe the “kingdom of heaven,” as Jesus talked about it and lived it, is more than a “straight and narrow path” defined by rules and systematic searches and time lines and well-defined adult perceptions and ideas. What if the freedom Jesus promised his followers is better illustrated (and lived!) by a young boy turning his search for his glasses into another adventure? What if our pursuit of meaning and Jesus himself became a fun and loopy path? What if we never find what we are looking for because we are looking in the wrong ways?

On the way back from the skate park, empty-handed, I had pretty much given up the search. I was not surprised. I had begun the search thinking I would not find what I was looking for (to paraphrase Bono) anyway. So, as I walked, I looked down at the ground only occasionally, just because I should.

Then, nearing the point our search had begun, I glanced down and spied my nine year-old companion’s glasses sitting in the landscaping bark folded neatly as if someone had purposefully placed them there.

The boy saw them too.

He squealed; his face beamed; we high-fived. We danced around as if we had found Jesus’ “pearl of great price.”

“I was just praying we’d find ‘em,” he said. “Jesus dropped ‘em right where you were lookin’.”

Immediately my adult mind found a more plausible explanation for how the glasses ended up neatly folded where we had already searched. I wish it hadn’t.

Eugene C. Scott writes the Wednesday Neighborhood Cafe blog.  If you’re reading this on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized