“This place is like a pawadise on eawth” so declared my six-year-old grandson last Sunday as we sat at the dinner table eating grilled, cheese dogs and potato chips. Come to think of it, I guess we had already moved on to the ice cream sandwiches that were desert. I thought perhaps he was referring to the low nutritional value, high deliciousness factor of our meal, but when I asked, “What makes you say that?” he explained further: ‘Cause you have Angwy Bewds on the T.V., a pool in the backyahwd, toys and ice cweam sandwiches. Ah, so a meal high in sodium, fat and sugar was only part of the equation that added up to paradise on earth, in this sweet, innocent, child’s mild.
I have thought of that brief exchange off-and-on all week long. Now, as I sit beside that sparkling pool (I know he doesn’t care if it sparkles, he’s merely interested in the fact that it’s wet) I realize that I must agree with him. Though there are certain circumstances of my life at the moment, that are not of my choosing and not as I would wish, I acknowledge that I am truly and richly blessed.
Oh, and I pray that I will never cease to be amazed how the heart and mind of a six-year-old boy can warm the heart and challenge the mind of this fifty-six-year-old man.
What does a child’s assessment of paradise on earth have to do with a quest for contemporary manifestations of Christ you may ask? Well, I share this simple insight to clarify the purpose of my Emmaus Road Trip. I see God everyday. I see Him in the face of that boy and his siblings. I hear Him in the joyous songs of the myriad birds (not the angry ones) that inhabit this yard. I talk with Him several times each day. I have no doubt of His existence, nor of His love, care and boundless grace. As I have shared my plans with those around me, my son-in-law told me that he was pretty sure Jesus had already been found, a wise-ass friend (sorry, there is no Christian speak equivalent for that label) told me he knows where Jesus is and is going to track my progress on my journey and leave comments when I am getting warmer or colder.
So please understand, I am not having a crisis of faith. I am not anti-church. I am not in search of God and I am not running away or going off to “find myself”. Furthermore, I am not merely looking for a sign or signs of his existence. Jesus himself said, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” (Matt. 12:39 NIV) Finally, I am not on a quest for the Holy Grail (though a holy hand grenade might prove useful) or some other fantastical or meaningless adventure.
Rather, I am looking for the people who are the “hands and feet of Christ”, who are doing the work of God in such a way that those to whom they minster are radically transformed. I am looking for people whose lives have been transformed by these ministries and the power of God. I am looking for churches or ministries that are “turning the world upside down” I am looking for “holy troublemakers” (see Acts 17:6).
At least that is what I am looking for in part. As to the rest, it’s kind of like good art. It’s hard to describe but I know it when I see it. As I find those things/people/ministries that exhibit the power of God and resonate with my spirit I will take note and happily share my observations with you, so that we can grow in knowledge and appreciation and perhaps, become more Christ-like ourselves.