Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Old Story

I grew up in the church – literally, we were there almost every time the doors were open when I was a kid.  There are pictures of me from my very youngest years on up as part of Christmas programs, or dragging my friends to vacation Bible school, or just random Sunday School and Awana photos.  To me, Bible stories have always been part of the regular list of books and bedtime stories that I could recite at any given time.  It’s one of the ways I help my own kiddos get to sleep at night.  

I mean, doesn’t everyone know at least some rendition of Jonah or Moses or Joseph – or Jesus for that matter?  They’ve made movies about them, after all.  Now, sure, we don’t always get all the details right, but for some reason in my head, I thought everyone knew Bible stories.

Then I saw the blank look on the face of one of my friends the other night as we were talking about Passover, in reference to the Israelites and how it began, and the connection to Esther in its timing, etc.  And my friend didn’t know what Passover was, or why it was important.  I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to explain in a shortened version what happened and why (thankfully, one of the other gals there told her the full story, “reads-like-a-novel” version was in Exodus).  She was fascinated, and in the course of the evening admitted that several of the stories – ones that I take for granted – she just didn’t know them.  She is a new follower of Christ, and hasn't had the extreme exposure to all things "Christian" throughout her life.

Now, at first, I just felt like a heel for making assumptions.  Then later, as I thought about it some more, I was entranced.  How marvelous it would be to be able to look at the Bible stories that are so “commonplace” for me as if I’d never seen them before!  To be able to discover the wondrous ways that God connects all the stories in His love letter to us.

I’m sure that once upon a time I had that kind of joy and wonder when I learned all the stories.  And I find myself praying for the return of that, to be able to enjoy the stories again anew and see the wonder in them as I did the first time.  To hear God’s voice clearly in the telling, and know that the grand Story that He began thousands of years ago is just as important to – and for – me today.

I dare you to try it – really read, really pay attention to the age-old stories that you already know.  And see just what God is telling you.  And be fascinated by it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Masterpieces Under Cover

You know, I work with teenagers.  Don’t have any of my own yet (though the day is fast approaching and it scares me a lot!), but I like to think that I know how to talk to them at least a little bit.  Which is why it’s funny to me to think how shaky I can get talking to ones I don’t know – especially when I’m having to get after them.  

Case in point this afternoon – there is a group of 4 guys on the edge my work property right now, who actually look like pretty accomplished skateboarders.  However, 15 minutes ago they chose to collapse one of our picnic tables and set it up as a ramp.  That irked me just a bit.  Thankfully I had a long walk from my office to where they were to figure out what I was going to say.

I decided to go the calm route.  More flies with honey, right?  I told these guys (well, the 3 that were left after one took off seeing me coming) that I didn’t mind if they hung out, but using the tables the way they were wasn’t cool, and while I figure they’re good at what they do, I didn’t want them hurt.  And then I held my breath for a second. 

I mean, I don’t know these kids from Adam.  And while the teens I work with are a great bunch of kids, I know that not all teenagers are.  Would they cuss me out?  Ignore me?  Threaten? 

What I got was a clear look right into my eyes, and then a “yeah, hey, that’s respectable” – and then they put it all back.  Without my asking, they voluntarily put the table not only back the way it was, but back where it belonged, too.  

I realized that often when we treat people like the human beings and created masterpieces that God made them to be, we discover they are, in fact, precisely that.  Because I was respectful to them, not demanding or scared or angry, they were respectful back.  Because I could see in them the person that God sees – at least a little glimpse – I could treat them the way He does.  They may hide that canvas under tattoos and strategically torn jeans and a don’t-care attitude – but I think I got a little peek at the masterpiece underneath.