Two years ago my son popped off the above question with his brow furrowed. I’m not real sure from where the question derived but he really needed an answer. When he asks unanswerable questions like that I do my best to not crack a grin, look very serious and give him an answer cast in iron that leaves no room for doubt. So that night I remember furrowing my own brow, conjuring up an accent that I’m confident sounded exactly like Confucious:
“The answer, my curious son, is that we will posses glorified eyelids that allow no light to penetrate. Sleep will be yours in copious amounts, lad. Everything will be fine, now go back to playing Mario Cart.”
Raising kids is good for your theological growth; children ask some great questions as they filter much of Scriptural truth through literal lenses. We taught both of our children how that the Bible doesn’t mention “asking Jesus into your heart”. He is at that age where he has heard that phrase (not a good phrase in my humble opinion) both at church and at his former school and has at times sought to understand the logistics of a grown Man residing in his chest cavity. I’ve literally seen my boy tuck his chin down to his breastbone as he looks at the capacity to squeeze God’s Son in there. He’s only a child but he’s acutely aware that the math doesn’t work out appropriately for that scenario to become his reality. Amy and I try instead to teach Landon that the Bible says much about trusting Jesus, believing Jesus, following Jesus and obeying Jesus. These are concepts that his little mind can latch on to and we believe it will build a stronger foundation of faith when the little fellow fully commits himself to Christ at some point in the future. His questions about sleeping in Heaven and how Jesus can live in his heart may seem silly but they are settings prepared by God upon which to lay essential stones.
What time have you spent in this fading year pondering upon what you believe and how it fleshes itself out? Do you know if your faith is biblical faith? Have you spent time investigating what your teachers are telling you? Some Christians may need to see if they are cloaking themselves in stale traditions which they are growing secretly suspicious of. It’s beneficial for each of us to insert the thermometer of gratitude under the tongue of our profession of faith and see what the temperature reads. Did you spend another year seeking to assuage gnawing guilt by out-performing yourself from the year before? Are you scurrying and hurrying, rarely resting, never jesting, chasing blessing that you feel you must earn? Few of us would be comfortable believing that God might choose to bless us just because He’s God and He loves to measure out spoonfuls of grace flavored that way. Do you believe He spites you when you are bad? Are you sovereign and God, therefore, obligated to respond to you according to your merit or demerit? Do you hate your sin or simply the potential consequence of your sin? Our bibles can become like mere medicine that keeps the badness away instead of a feast that rejoices the taste-buds of the soul. Hmmm….I guess I’m closing out this year wondering if I grew at all in the last twelve months. I think it is a significant enough question not to assume that the answer is Yes.
I know one thing is true for me about 2012: God whittled me down quite a bit. His tool in my life this year was not fine-grained sandpaper but, rather, the chisel. Now that I think about it, He never put it down this year as He diligently worked on me month in and month out. I had hoped for some smooth polish to be applied but God seems to still be knocking chunks of junk out of my heart and mind that resemble nothing of His own character and nature. He’s humbled me and that gives me great hope because I am convinced that humility is the gateway to glory. I guess the looming question is how much more humbling is required for you and me to become more pliable in His masterful hands. Some people would say, “Jeff, you make things too complicated just…let go and let God!” That’s a shallow and thoughtless phrase that I wish would disappear from the landscape of Christendom. You’ve never let God do anything because He is not subject to your permission. We don’t allow God to work in our lives – we can coopoerate and welcome His hand but we never have the ability to allow or disallow. God does what pleases Him and I am theologically assured that what He chooses to do is always perfect – even when it requires another chipping of the chisel against the calcified parts of our hearts. Come to think of it, if He ever puts that chisel of His away, I think I’m in trouble.
Here are some words for us to think about as 2013 draws near: smaller, quieter, stiller, wiser, deeper, higher, further…closer. That should be sufficient to think upon for the next twelve months!