In the Mean Time
I was pleased recently to uncover a box filled with “Peanuts” books from the 60s and 70s. I've been enjoying re-reading these books and remembering how I used many of the episodes in sermons and other talks. In this particular episode, Lucy and Linus are watching Charlie Brown's new baby sister, Sally, crawling on the floor.
Linus asks, “How long do you think it will be before Sally starts to walk?”
Lucy responds, “Good grief! What's the hurry? Let her crawl around for awhile. Don't rush her. . . . She's got all the time in the world. Once you stand up and start to walk, you're committed for life.”
It's not often, but this time I agree with Lucy one hundred percent. We seem to have such a difficult time letting children be children. I think I was struck by this particular episode because of a quotation I found years ago in an Art Museum in Corpus Christi.
This particular museum had a “Creative Room” for children. In it were all kinds of material, including computers, where the children were encouraged to experience art. My grandson and I spent our time at the museum in that room. It had a large window overlooking the bay. On one wall were these words of Pablo Picasso, "Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist after growing up." Believe me, I had no trouble spending my time in that room. I didn't feel deprived that I was not doing the things grown-ups do while in museums.
The phrase that jumped out at me in the "Peanuts" episode was, " . . . she's got all the time in the world." That's the one thing that children and artists have in common; they can lose themselves in what they are doing and forget about time. More and more and more, I am coming to realize I have all the time in the world the moment I take my eyes off the clock and focus, instead, on the task at hand. Unfortunately, as we have grown up, we have set aside the artist within us and we feel we are committed for life in this state.
In this sense I think we can safely say the Man born in a barn never grew up and encourages His followers to do the same. Isn't He the one who said that we must remain as little children if we ever hope to meet face to face with Him in that place He refers to as the "Kingdom of Heaven." It's so easy to read such a statement and write it off as His "thinking out loud" without the need of placing it in the context of reality.
When asked, "Who is of greatest importance in the Kingdom of God?" He was very clear, "I ASSURE you, unless you CHANGE and become like LITTLE CHILDREN you will NOT ENTER the Kingdom of God. Whoever makes himself lowly, BECOMING LIKE this child, is of greatest importance in that heavenly reign."
This concept is so foreign to our society's values it's a wonder that there hasn't been a movement to ban the Book in which it is contained. Whoever makes himself lowly will be the greatest, give me a break! The question is, "Where will this person be the greatest?" Certainly not in this world whose focus is on being "number one" which is interpreted to mean better than anyone else. The Man born in a barn was never upwardly mobile as our society holds up as a desired goal. The fact is He avoided it like the plague. Whenever there was any hint that the people might be ready to place Him on a pedestal and pay Him homage, He fled.
The late Henri Nouwen, speaking of Christian leadership put it this way, "The way of the Christian leader is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross. This might sound morbid and masochistic, but for those who have heard the voice of the first love and said "yes" to it, the downward-moving way of Jesus is the way to the joy and peace of God, a joy and peace that is not of this world."
All of this reminded me of how impressed I am with people who don't spend a lot of time trying to make a good impression.
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