At 33, this seems like a good year to be a man–except it seems to be God’s timing in my life to make me into a real boy.
Coming full circle to the kind of joy, imagination and freedom that I experienced in my relationship with God when I was riding my bike in circles at the end of the street has been the theme of this past year. More concisely, understanding the depth of who I am in God (as opposed to merely what I do for God) has been/continues to be the revelation of my life. There may be childish things we are supposed to leave behind, but there seems to be boyish things I’ve got to pick back up to be the man I’m supposed to be. And after all, the kingdom of heaven is available only to children.
When I was a boy who not only knew God but knew that God knew my name, I was good at imagining and creating in my head. And in many cases, telling those stories out loud when I was on my bike. My bike was my time machine, where I was able to enter a world where I owned pet robots and saved gorgeous blondes in futuristic jumpsuits from intergalactic danger. It was a good thing to always be in the center of an adventure–it was a good thing to aspire to be a hero for somebody else.
Of course as we age, we settle for far less than heroism than what we aspire to when we are children. Reality has a way of grinding that out of us. When you’ve got bills to pay and errands to run, there is not as much time to devote to thinking about how you might save the world. Or how you might save the girl in distress by doing karate in the back alley, or untying her from the rail road tracks and carrying her over off over your shoulder in just the nick of time. It is difficult to imagine, by the time we’ve acclimated to real life, to have the faith or imagination left to daydream about doing anything heroic. We seldom have the time or the creativity we came into the world with, and this almost seems good to us–we are “more practical” now, more pragmatic, more “grown up.” This is all tragic of course, since realism will pretty much keep you out of the kingdom of God altogether.
The tide of normal is always drawing us out to a sea of noise and distraction that keep us from having to think deeply about who we really are or who we are called to be. To keep us from dreaming about what we might still become when we grow up.
And yet the kingdom of God compels and the world around us demands that we not settle for a life incapable of inspiring anyone. It is true that the heroism God calls for will often be through small acts of faithfulness. But it is also true that small acts of faithfulness change the world. When we allow space for Sabbath time, silent time, and time spent with people who deeply move us, we can still have the capacity to stir up sacred imagination. We can gain the divine perspective that allows us to no longer see ourselves as passive spectators to the world we’ve been given, but active participants in the ongoing drama of God’s redemptive work in the world.
It’s a lively, interactive, choose-your-own adventure story we are caught up in, not a static script we’ve been assigned. But we’ve got to become boys and girls again for God to re-imagine the world through us.