By Cindy Koch –
When I was young, I imagined a great many things about my future life unknown. I can remember the cool Colorado grass at just about sunset, gazing up at the colorful evening clouds. The light melted into orange and pink, blue and purple, casting faraway shadows and valleys above me. And somewhere in that fluid landscape in the sky, a little 7-year-old girl told stories about her adventures and loves and victories to come.
Now, I did know these stories were imagined, at some level. I knew the fiery islands were simply draw by fading sunbeams. I couldn’t really see a lonely girl stranded across the sky-blue sea from the faithful one who scoured the desert clouds to find her. I realized the shorelines quickly altered and disappeared when the purple darkness of night began to cover the land above. I knew it was a story, but the whispered tales stirred a hope I was yet to discover.
These floating stories were powerful in the unfolding of a greater story as I grew. Sometimes waiting on the shore of a quiet harbor. Sometimes lost in the mountainous region with no end in sight. Sometimes floating in the black sea overcome with darkness. There was always a rescuer out there, just across the expanse. And even today, this grown up girl has been living a story from the distance that looks forward to a greater day.
As time introduced me to this story, I began to discover the foundations of every good and gracious tale. A Creator who lovingly sculpted His people. A God who crossed the expanse of heaven and earth to meet his stranded ones. A Christ who sacrificed his honor, glory, and life for the sake of another. A incredible new day, when the Prince of Peace would usher his Bride to their “happily ever after.” The wonders and dreams that echoed in my young heart matured into the concrete reality of the Son of God made Flesh.
But then, just yesterday, I listened to another grown up girl reflect on her own difficulties with these dream cloud tales. Her flesh and blood life was going nothing like her stories in the sky. Memory after memory of disappointment. Loneliness and struggle. Actual wounds and breathtaking heartache. With an overly confident laugh she said, I’m way too old to believe these fairy tales anymore. And her illuminated hope in her greater story went black.
She heard from the creatures of the dust that a hope from above is just silly. She was counseled to forget a story she couldn’t see. She learned to expect the pain of the present. They told her to embrace the story of the now. And since her story only floated above, it was too easy to forget the sparking city of the sun. Yesterday, she took ahold of the dying grass below, to ground her future.
And I can’t blame her, unbelieving the childhood visions. We are creatures of our senses. The present ground is closer and it feels more real. Acceptance is more sensible than hope. Today’s action seems more dependable than a hidden reality and an unseen hope for the future.
And I can’t blame her, forsaking the story in the clouds. It often doesn’t look that bad down here. She can resolve to make this life good enough. She can work hard and smile. She can mostly ignore the mess of the world. She’s used to putting her hands in the mud to forge another way. She can be a story maker of her own.
And I can’t blame her, leaving behind a shadow of a story. It’s hard to wait for the end. Especially when our visible life keeps getting harder. Especially when no one else is waiting with you. Especially when we question if it is even true. Endure for what? She can take care of her own story, right now.
So, the story of the Kingdom remained in the sky. A hope of a new day was silenced deep in her heart. A beautiful tale of rescue was limited to the quality of her own faith –but she was tired of grasping at dreams.
My friend, this is not how our God chose to tell his story to us. He did not leave his words displayed in the heavens for you to observe. He did not dangle his words before you to inspire your heart. God sent His Son into our tangible, dusty, concrete story. He did not stay in the clouds.
Born of water and the Spirit, you will enter the Kingdom of God. Drink, eat—you are fed and have eternal life. Jesus fills our down-to-earth story with his extraordinary reality. He takes hostage the bread and wine, water and word. He calls his followers when they least expect it. He washes children clean even when they can’t understand it. He feeds people forgiveness, especially when they don’t deserve it. It is both a story of above and below. The eternal God of the heavens concealing himself in our dirty, real story.
Christ doesn’t keep this story in the sky. God doesn’t tell this story in your heart. You don’t need to trust your will, faith, or understandings to assure you of the truth of this story. Rather, taste, drink, touch the water, believe His Word. The story of Christ Jesus became solid and tangible, for you.