Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pumpkins and Pirates

Sometimes I just stare at my son and burst from an overwhelming sense of wonder and love. Somewhere behind the missing tooth and the unkempt hair lies a mind that has figured out what most have long forgotten. In that six-year-old mind, the discovery of real life booms. A life in which rules serve as basic principles more than rigid absolutes with no room for the unexpected. He has discovered that around every corner of this world, an adventure can still be found. He has not given up on the hope that if one looks long enough, new discoveries of old truths await.
It is no wonder why when Jesus was speaking of children he said, “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these”. It is because Jesus wants those who believe it is possible to ride a pirate ship through lava in order to save a pumpkin from the Halloween monster. He wants those who believe it is possible and who don’t really care if they are the only ones convinced of this obvious possibility. Jesus knew that in the mind of a child, everything in life has a reason for existing but pure scientific answers fall short of the real truth. Jesus understood that with a child it is more likely that volcanoes exist because God thinks they look cool, not because of movement of matter beneath the surface.
Jesus must grow so tried of adults who have learned so many rules about the game of life that they actually forget how to play, or why to play in the first place. Certainly God is impressed with the minds that have looked high and low to discover the logical reasons for volcanoes. But the logical reasons for volcanoes don’t really answer, “Why do volcanoes exist”. The why question is asked by a child because he wants to know why these are a part of the story. Instead of volcanoes, why not make giant- lava spewing trees?
Lava is the logical choice of liquid when one wants to add an obstacle. Everyone knows that lava can keep the bad guys away and keep little boys in their beds at night. In the beautiful mind of a child, they still ask the right questions and search for the right answers. They still want to know how things work, but they are unafraid of answers that supercede our basic understanding.
In the mind of a six year old, the rules don’t have to make sense. They don’t have to be consistent or even serve a purpose. For a six year old, one can at any moment decide that all pillows are rocks and all blankets are invisibility cloaks. The next moment these vary pillows can become a tasty treat while hiding from a monster. It makes no difference in the mind of a child if things change. It makes no matter if logic can disprove a belief in the ability of the Pirates to succeed. In the beautiful mind of a child all things are possible because this world is big.
For a six year old, we have not had enough time shrinking the world in which he lives through our endless dogma about rules and principles. He hasn’t learned that dinosaurs are never coming back. He hasn’t had the misfortune of hearing that the stars are too far and too hot to visit. Even if he has been told, he doesn’t care because he will wear his “hot planet suit”. In this mind of a six year old, he can still believe in a God who also doesn’t care much for rules. It is still possible for God to take five loaves of bread to feed five thousand. For a six year old, killing a Giant with a rock is not illogical; it is the only logical way to kill a giant. In this mind, one must keep wood close because every rainstorm has the possibility of flooding the earth.
In our attempts to discover why things are, we loose the ability to see that things are. We find a way to explain what makes a rainbow and lose the wonder of this colorful image floating in mid air. We use a microscope to see the individual strands of DNA and forget to step back and see the spectacle of a human being. We look deep into lava and discover that it exists because of the internal temperature of the earth and forget how bizarre it is that the whole earth has not melted.
A God with such an imagination that he was willing to break His own rules has created this world. In making all mammals similar, he decided to make one with a duck’s bill, and that lays eggs. He made us believe that all things found in the sea must be fish until we looked closer and found whales. He made all flying creatures to be birds and then decided to make bats. One might argue that these creatures are evidence of an evolutionary process that links all living beings. I say they are evidence of a creator that still smiles when he hears tales of pirates and pumpkins. A creator that is bold enough to stick to a basic design that works well and then tweak it enough to remain amused.
Our great men of science attempt to use these irregularities to convince the dull minded that these inconsistencies disprove God. I say that these inconsistencies prove that our great men of science are dull and irregular.
I have decided to join my son on his boat. I have looked into this and am comfortable with the idea of saving the pumpkins. I am leaving the shores of the mundane and logical. I am sailing into the purple sunset on seas of lava. I am going to seek the truth and accept things not easily explained. I will believe that all things are possible in this world. I hereby acknowledge that in this world, there is more than what meets the eye. No longer will I stay on the shores of this great ocean waiting for it to make sense. I will fight monsters and save pumpkins. My captain will be a six year old with one front tooth.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quote of the Week

"Only when we claim the love of the crucified Christ with heartfelt conviction, the love that transcends all judgments, can we overcome all fear of judgment. When we have become completely free from the need to judge others, we will also become completely free from the fear of being judged... The experience of not having to judge cannot co-exist with the fear of being judged, and the experience of the non-judgmental love of the crucified Savior cannot co-exist with a need to judge others."
-Henry Nouwen "Here and Now"

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Job for Idiots

The other day I was talking with a group of High School students in my church. One of them asked where I work and what I do. Another student quickly jumped to my defense and said something like, "He is your youth pastor (idiot)". She then responded by saying, "But you have your Master's Degree, why are you a youth pastor? I thought being a youth pastor was for stupid people."
I was actually flattered that she thought I was too smart to be a youth pastor... I think.
Some would say that this is a job only for fools. Some would say that this is a waste of time. Some would say that I could make more money and "be more successful" if I had a real job. Sometimes they might even be right.
The bottom line is that I like what I do, my family has a place to live and food to eat everyday, and every once in a while I see some change in a life that makes this worth while.
So here's to all the idiots out there who waste their time working with youth. Here's to all of us who wasted money on college and books. Here's to all of us who should be wasting our time as lawyers, and marketing directors. Here's to all of us idiots who have to go on snowboard and wakeboard trips for our job. Here's to all of us fools who travel the world as we lead the youth into new lands in an effort to teach service and sacrifice. Here's to all of us fools who can laugh and have fun with our jobs... who wear shorts to work... who are forced to stay in touch with technology... who drive church vans and buses... who bring kids to the beach for work... who go to all the football games... who know the principals at the local schools... who know the local detention center workers... who still like pizza and captain crunch... who still get in trouble with parents... who can leave work to see our own kids' school plays... who are known in our local coffee shops... who get to see students turn their lives around for the better... who live for something bigger than ourselves... who just aren't smart enough to do anything else!