Yesterday afternoon was gorgeous. Warm, sunny, peaceful…a day that really has no business popping up in the winter. So after the corporate machinery let me clock out I put on shorts and stepped into the back yard like a man just given a crown. Apparently that crown isn’t so much for reigning sovereign over my home and property as much as for being the rightful ruler over a roll of paper towels to wipe down my daughter’s winter beaten swing set. My sceptres are the sticks that I spend the better part of an hour piling up near the fence. Oh the glamorous life of fatherhood, homeownership, and passive landscaping competition with the retired neighbors (if he installs a water feature i intend on going full contact, and he’s not going to like the way it ends).
But, all of this led up to the joy of pushing my daughter on her swing set yesterday evening. She cackles like a cartoon hyena when I push her higher on the safety swing, it’s phenomenal. And in the wake of getting home from work to work some more, strapping my little girl into her swing, and pushing her until she acted like a lunatic; in the midst of all that she rang out a sentence that caught me off guard and forced me to take a moment to process the wisdom of a person that we just recently starting describing in “years old” instead of “months”.
She looked at me as I was pushing the swing and she looked up at the 5:30 sun and said, “look daddy the sun is in the air and I am in the air too”. At first I kind of laughed at the irony, thought about how I could logistically explain 93 million miles to a 2 year old, and decided that we could drive to the sun in less time. But in the following moments the reality, and the gravity, of what she said really pierced me.
Jesus was clear that we are going to have to become like children in order to embrace and engage the kingdom of God and receive eternal life (Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:15). And this has spawned much writing and preaching and discussion. But I stand in constant amazement at how much I learn from my daughter about this principle.
Karsten doesn’t understand just how far away the sun is, and she probably won’t for several more years (even though my child is a genius). But, I don’t understand how close the sun is, and God only knows how long it will take me to learn. She can’t comprehend numbers in the millions, or the enormity of our angry star, or even the incredible importance of it in the scheme of our lives. However, she does seem to have a relentless grasp on just how much closer she is to the sun when she is off the ground. She philosophically understands that even though she only hovers 2 1/2 feet off the ground she is suddenly propelled into the same realm as the sun. Gravity might be pulling on her little feet, but she isn’t budging, she’s in the air.
Far too often my mind is focused on the distance between God and I. Though I understand the ideas of “personal Savior” and “friend that is closer than any brother” I, more often than not, fail to live in those realities. But what Jesus has done, and what Karsten understands, is that when the Spirit of God overwhelmed me, and I relinquished my life to Jesus, something took place that powerfully altered my condition.
Though we are not far off the “ground”, and though the realist and cynic in me wants to downplay it, we are in the same atmosphere as God. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice Hebrews tells me that we move from the outskirts of where God dwells (by deduction) to the inner sanctum, the very presence of the King of the entire universe.
As improbable, as impossible, as unbelieveable, as crazy, as outrageous as it may seem to a mortal mind trying to understand the nearness of God despite my finite and temporary reality, it’s true.
5 You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. 7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. 9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. 11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night – 12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. ~ Psalm 139:5, 7-12
We are THAT close.