There was a poor earthworm minding his own squirmy self, exposed on a cement sidewalk- an easy catch for curious little hands. He slinked and slithered from one hand to another, dropped two or three times, and then picked up by another set of hands until he was finally released into a grassy, dark hole at the corner of our driveway. A dandelion was then plucked from the earth, and an excited cry of, “Look, Mommy!” from my son reminded me that it is a discipline to celebrate simple wonders. It takes no great effort for a two-year-old to be fully present, admiring God’s creation, breathless at passing clouds, nesting birds, and spiders. But for a distracted mama with a calendar and a clock, such pleasures (minus the spiders) are left in the peripheral margins as “nice”, “but we must move on now.”
Will gravity fail if we pause to celebrate simple wonders? We had another birthday this weekend, and the baby I brought home from the hospital on Mother’s Day of 2010 is now seven. I used to dance with her in her nursery when she was only months old, before she could even crawl, and we would spin, giggle, and I would sing, kissing her forehead endlessly. I don’t know what I got done on those days, and I am sure there were a couple loads of laundry to wash or fold- I forget. But I will always remember dancing with my baby daughter. I still dance with her and her sister and brother, but they make up the dance moves now.
Who needs another organized activity when there is a garden hose? Now it is warm enough to run barefoot and get wet. And anytime is the perfect time to take up the ukulele. My artist child finds unique ways at self-expression. Alongside her musical pursuits she has decided to be a “book writer,” and she has begun a short collection of stories titled, “The Cat and the Mouse.” These two furry characters get in all sorts of mischief like eating “candy pancakes” and chasing wild bats out of their house. I type the words my daughter tells me, and she draws the pictures. She has even bound one of her stories using cardboard and masking tape.
The temptation is to control every moment- steering the people in our lives to fit our plans. We have good intentions, wanting what is best, or what we think is best. Our knowledge is finite, limited in understanding, whereas God’s judgments are unsearchable. Stepping back, relaxing our demands and expectations allows us to live freely, and moldable to God’s perfect intentions- to the one who works all things together for good for his children. Because even we ourselves are in process, incomplete, and like little children are growing into maturity. I love how God is not formulaic, but is consistently creative, shaping families to expand His kingdom in unique ways. I think the best way for us to come into our own as individuals and as families in the Kingdom of God is to turn down the noise of social media and lift up God’s Word, prayerfully seeking how we are to shepherd our homes and live out the gospel in our particular context. Are we easily influenced? Do we doubt and question our methods and practices? What voices are we listening too? How much time do we devote to social media feeds, blogs, and podcasts? How much time do we devote to meditating on God’s Word and to prayer. What is informing our decisions in how we lead our lives?
In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis has the demon Screwtape teaching his nephew Wormwood how to keep a Christian wandering away from his faith:
You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room.
Or keep him up late at night staring at a phone.
If we are going to lead countercultural homes, we are to lead countercultural lives, and be sure that we will be unpopular with few “likes” or “retweets,” anonymous and in the shadows. But God is in the shadows, away from the clattering noise of the self-important people who are everywhere, especially in the Christian subculture. We can lead quiet lives, simple lives, following God’s will for ourselves, listening to His voice, ignoring all the noise and opinions. What really matters after all?
“In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26