I’ve been challenged lately to see Jesus in the personal experiences that have shaped me throughout my life. I started writing down every memory I could think of. Some of the details seemed arbitrary, like the pancakes and Sprite I would always eat while watching MacGyver on the mornings after I spent the night at my grandmother’s, but nevertheless, I kept writing them down.
I wanted to review these memories through the lens of the character and nature of Christ. What reflects the image of Christ in these stories? Where do I see mercy, grace, friendship, guidance, joy, forgiveness, perseverance, sacrifice...
We were created in His image, and I think that means a little more than he’s a God-man and therefore we look like humans. I believe God created us to enjoy Him, so the image of Christ can look like a meal with your family, a long drive with your spouse, a single word of encouragement from a friend. When we accept the invitation to fully engage, our lives become larger, our stories shine light in the darkness, and our joy becomes full.
One story from my childhood in particular resonated with me. Maybe because the imagery is strong. Maybe because the older you get the more you realize how fragile life and relationships are. Maybe because I’ve never had to lean into the love of God more than I do now when it comes to my family and the challenges we are facing together...
My sister and I used to play something called “Sneaky Pete” (no clue why we called it that) when we were children. We would wait until our parents thought we were sleeping, then we would slip through the house to collect valuable intel. It was top secret, though I have a feeling our parents were very aware of our peeping eyes under the dining room table.
We created worlds. We built forts. We pushed the bounds of our imagination as our relationship grew. It was unadulterated fun. We had our very own headquarters: the hidden room through the closet that led beneath the staircase. Behind the jackets was a discreet hideout, where we would plot, draw on the walls, and play Nintendo on the old tv we lugged in there.
I think our relationship with Jesus is a lot like that staircase hideout and the friendship my sister and I were growing as children. He invites us to dream and imagine a world where anything is possible and pain doesn’t exist. He stoops down into the hidden rooms under the staircases of our hearts and smiles as we scribble funny pictures on the wall, right next to the John 3:16 Bible verse, and even the poop picture I thought was hilarious at the time. He pursues us in gentle love.
I over complicate everything, and I am working on resting in the simple yet profound truths. Jesus loves me and wants me to view my life through the lens of his hope and peace. He calls me to stop trying so hard to fix things and just come play. To stop pretending that we have it within ourselves to make anything okay and to just enjoy His presence (and power).
My challenge to myself and to you is that we will run from the temptation of making mud pies in a slum when a holiday at sea is offered, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis. I want to look to Jesus, not as a rule giver, but as a friend like no other. He’s better than any false god I constantly bow to, including the false gods of Doubt and Control.
I need more child-like wonder, to be willing to crawl back under that staircase, read the writing on the walls, and rest knowing that God is my friend.