So...when an event like the recent Perseid meteor shower comes along I immediately think: Shooting Star Party. We arranged all of the deck chairs into what we decided were the ideal positions for meteor observation, David popped popcorn, I made lemonade and we invited some good friends over to hang out. Overall, it was really fun and we got to see quite a few meteors. The kids watched in awe for a while until their attention spans gave way to other more exciting pursuits. We all made some great memories and to me, that's all that is required to call any party a success.
The most poignant memory I'll take away with me from that night doesn't really have anything to do with meteors, though. It will be of my son Michael and his ability to 'wow' me on occasion with the way his amazing little mind works. We were gazing up at the night sky and together we recited the old rhyme "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight...I wish I may, I wish I might...have this wish I wish tonight." At the end, I asked the kids what they had wished for. Mattie (being Mattie) said "I wish I had a million dollars." I can't say as I blame her. If you're making a wish, might as well make it a big one, right? Then it was Michael's turn and I'll never forget this. He said quietly, while still looking up at the stars: "I wish God had forgiven Adam and Eve right from the beginning because things would have been a lot easier from then on."
Wow. I wish I could report to you that I had some meaningful response to this statement. I really don't remember what I said because honestly, I had never even considered this observation in that context for some reason. He got me thinking. 'Yeah...why didn't He forgive them? Michael is right. It would have been a lot easier. If God is such a forgiving God, why didn't He just give them a pass? He knew they were going to eat the fruit. Why did it matter so much? Why 'THE FALL' and the sinning, and animal sacrifices and the wars and chaos and plagues and pestilence and punishments? Why the ultimate torturous sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross to reconcile us with the God who created us and loves us? It could all have been avoided if He had just forgiven Adam and Eve on the spot, right?' Kinda makes you wonder...
I prayed on this. I pondered this. Eventually, I even Googled it. The answer came one morning while I was out walking our dog, Lucky, and was having my prayer time. I felt God speaking into my spirit and then it became clear to me. In order for us to have what God wants most from us, which is relationship, there has to be free will. The God of the universe had to give us the choice to reject Him. To let us 'go it alone' and then return to Him freely if we desired to do so. Imagine someone saying to you "Love me because I said so." Doesn't work that way. Real love means we choose to love one another despite our faults or imperfections or regardless of how powerful or powerless the object of our love is. To be loved, chosen for love, is probably the most enriching human experience of all. I believe it is what we were created for. Love. Praise. Honor. Worship. Cultivating relationship. With each other and with our Creator.
I see this fallen world as something like boot camp to prepare us for everlasting life. Without the experience of loss or grief, how could we ever fully appreciate life and how precious it is? Without sadness, how would we measure pure joy? Without feeling lack we would be unaware of the blessings of provision. Without sickness and pain in our bodies we wouldn't comprehend the perfection of our heavenly bodies to come. Without the bondage of sin we would never understand the unimaginable gift of grace, mercy and freedom in Christ. Trouble and difficulties, even emotional pain, cultivate our faith and teach us obedience and surrender. It all makes sense to me. Easy isn't always better. I am learning to be more grateful for the ongoing refining process of life. Nobody said it wouldn't get hot and uncomfortable in the furnace. The promise is that we will come out more clean and more pure and more beautiful than ever before. I can live with that. God knows what He is doing. After all, He's been doing it forever and in the infamous words of Prince...that's a mighty long time.
Our children have innate wisdom. They say things that confound us, challenge us and sometimes even push us to seek out answers we never even knew we had the questions for. My children are such an incredible blessing in so many ways. Once, Patrick, my oldest, said "Mom...why do people have the urge to do things that they already know are not going to be good for them and then do them anyway?" That one struck me dumb for a moment or two. I don't remember what I told him other than "Wow, that's a really good question. I might have to get back to you on that one." I don't think I ever did. Last year, Mattie was sitting in my lap on the couch and said "Mommy, why do people always say they are seeking God and that He is invisible? I see God all the time. All you have to do is look into the eyes of His people and that's us." I remember hugging her with tears running down my face and thanking her for sharing that with me. There's such wisdom in children hidden underneath all of the dirt and the noise and the sticky fingers and such. Yes, there is incredible wealth there that I am enjoying digging into every day. Such is the joy of parenthood.
Mattie explained that we can see God in each other's eyes and I am a witness to that fact. On a clear summer night, not long ago, as ribbons of light brilliantly streamed across the sky, I looked into the awestruck face of my eight year old son and clearly saw God's perfect love shining in his beautiful blue eyes. That's life, isn't it?
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