The evening shadows are deepening around me, the sky spinning blue into gold as we make our final lap around the dog park. The early spring air is rapidly losing warmth as the sun dips lower, and I’m desperate to stay in the light, to be led and warmed by the day’s final rays.
Selah starts to get antsy in her stroller, her cries making it clear that she wants to get out and walk. We have a lot of ground to cover before we’re back at the car, and I don’t love waiting for her little legs to keep up. But I know she will keep crying if I continue on with her strapped into the stroller, so once we’re away from other dogs, I unbuckle her and let her down.
Not more than two steps later, Selah crouches to pick up a rock. She is constantly collecting little treasures in her hands, and rocks are her favorite of all. She likes to study each one intently, turning it over in her fingers, pressing its sharp edges against her baby-soft skin.
She picks up one and then two and then three, and as she reaches to pick up a fourth, I think She can’t possibly hold another one. But then she manages to do it—she gets her tiny hands around a fourth and a fifth stone, and then she jams a sixth pebble into a tiny gap.
Soon both of her hands are filled with rocks, more than I would have guessed she could possibly hold. Satisfied for the moment, she continues walking. She’s breathing excitedly, relishing her independence and beaming with pride over the work she’s done.
A few seconds later, she stops to pick up yet another stone, not unlike the ones she’s already holding. As she tries to fit just this one more, they all come tumbling down, lost in the sea of millions of other rocks on the crushed-gravel path.
Dan and I wait a few minutes as she attempts to collect them again, but she can’t find them all, and even if she could, they wouldn’t fit back together in the same way. We try to cajole her to move on, but she won’t be deterred. She wants every single one of those rocks she lost, each one a precious treasure. Eventually I distract her so we can continue, but then she stops again a few paces later to do the same thing: She tries to pick up just one more rock, again. They all tumble out, again. We wait for her, again. This repeats endlessly—after a few content steps, she takes her eyes off the view and tries to cram more stuff into her dusty hands.
As I turn this memory over in my mind, studying it, pressing into its edges, I realize it’s possibly the most important spiritual lesson I’ve ever learned.
I’ve been picking up rock after rock after rock throughout my church journey. My faith, which started out as Jesus, just give me Jesus, has become Jesus, plus Evangelicalism, plus quiet times, plus checklists, plus small groups, plus self-righteousness, plus piety and purity and politics.
Well-meaning people have told me that Jesus plus anything is not the true gospel, but all the while, they have shoved more rocks into my hands without giving me a chance to study them, really grasp them, and now I can’t carry them all. I can’t squeeze in even one more pebble. So I’m opening my hands and dropping all the rocks, letting every last one fall to the ground, and I’m running in search of the Rock, the Living Christ.
I’m not looking down for more rocks to pick up, and instead I’m looking ahead to the horizon, to the sun, to the Kingdom that Jesus is actually establishing on earth as it is in heaven. I’m whispering Your Kingdom come over and over with every step, with every breath. I’m longing for Communion with every crunch, crunch of the gravel under my feet.
I don’t totally understand Jesus’ vision for the Kingdom and how to bring it about, but I do know I’d pick his vision over man’s every single time. What if his vision for the Kingdom is far greater than the American church’s vision for our government? What if his vision is infinitely better than the one we’ve constructed for ourselves? What if, to paraphrase C. S. Lewis, we’ve been collecting rocks to top off our mud pies, but all this time we’ve been missing out on the sand, the sunshine, and the sea?
What if all we need to do is hold out our dusty, empty hands?What if #Jesus' vision for the kingdom is infinitely better than the one we’ve constructed for ourselves? Click To Tweet What if all we need to do is hold our dusty, empty hands out to God? Click To Tweet