The Blueberry is visiting from Atlanta. He brought along his family and favorite toys, Buzz Lightyear and Woody. They are one week into a two-week visit. Our house has looked a little different this past week. There are English peas on the floor, tiny shoes by the door, and sweet faces awake with the brewing coffee pot. But mostly there is more laughter and toddler noise, and Woody in unusual places - in the laundry basket, under the covers, on the stairs, in the library, even in the kitchen colander where at noon we drained the shells for mac and cheese.
This is Woody with a pointed nose, plaid shirt, a holster but no gun, and loosey-goosey limbs. This Woody has an old fashioned pull-string that says, "There's a snake in my boot" or "Reach for the sky". The thing about Woody is he has always known who he is (a toy) and to whom he belongs (Andy).
It turns out, that is something I could use a little more of - to know and rest in who I am and to Whom I belong.
God made us for a purpose. Working for good, loyal friendship, and genuine love, including worshipping God, are all part of our purpose. But first, wisdom beginw with who we are. In a nutshell, we are children of God, beloved face-shiners of the Living God made in the Imago Dei. The very breath of the Divine, that star-spangling, planet-placing, moon-making God, is the same One that shapes our earlobes, spins whorls of hair at our crown, and sweeps eyelashes across our cheeks. No two the same. This breath of heaven breathes in each of us.
Of course, that image is not always apparent. First of all, we don't always choose to be children of our Father. And even when we do, that likeness is marred by our insecurities, our insistence on going our own way, and the enemy of our souls. Originally, we were made to be wholehearted, but somewhere along the way, we became divided. Was it in the garden, when we first met the world, the first time our hearts were broken? Maybe all of those places. This division is threefold. We are divided from ourselves, from each other and from the God who loves us.
Being one of God's children is a nuanced truth that is often oversimplified. It is one of those both/and things. Being a child of God is something we already are, and yet, one of God's generous gifts to us is that we are free to choose or resist that relationship. And another surprise, it is not a one-and-done decision but an every day one.
We get scattered by so many things. We can come apart with noise, hurry, striving, demands, warped identities, and the 24/7 news cycle. One of our great endeavors everyday is to come back together again, to repair and restore to being original. As we return to ourselves and our generous God, our new wholeness will include those places where we were broken. Now, our wholeness is in Christ and must include the restoration Jesus brought us with his life and death.
In love he made us, and in love, he will mend us.
Here are 7 everyday ways I say yes to being a child of God:
- say thanks to God every morning for the breath in my lungs
- look out the window praising God for what His hand has painted on the skies
- reflect on a psalm or story from the Bible
- open my calendar and ask God, what are we doing today?
- take a walk outside
- name a place or person where Jesus met me today
- say something hopeful, good, and true (about myself, others, and God)
These noticing ways are all ways of praying. They each make room for a variety of life circumstances, seasons, and weather. We may or may not like what we see out our window, in our lives, or even in our hearts at the moment, but we can be sure our good and beautiful God is with us calling us to be His beloved child in the movements of every ordinary day.
The very measure of a day and its reliability tells us that neither the calling of a day nor its close depends on us. The faithful rising of the sun. Light by which to work with our hands. The warm afternoon sun on our backs. The setting of the sun. The rising of the moon. Stars that never leave their posts. We call these the making of a day, but God calls them a persistent renewing of His faithfulness.
Ruth Chou Simons
Saying yes to being a child of God makes you original in every sense of the word - true to your original design and the only you there is.
I find that once I make these restorative ways my everyday habits, then wherever I am and whatever I do, I am always coming back together into the One who made me. Like Woody, I know who and whose I am.
a prayer from Frederick Buechner,
"Praise be to God for our freedom not simply to be Your children
but to choose to be."
A prayer from me to you,
a prayer for being original
with my first breath awake,
you fill me.
open my drowsy eyes to your skies,
beautiful or bruised.
i say yes, thank you,
i am an original child of God -
choosing everyday to be yours.
let it be
If you want to practice more of this kind of being original, of saying yes to being a child of God, you might want to pre-order a book I read recently by Ruth Chou Simons. Ruth knows how to attune her heart to God in everyday life. I got a sneak peek of "Beholding and Becoming" by joining Ruth's launch team and was reminded of how BIG and intricate our God is.
Beholding and Becoming is filled with some of my favorite things: bees, blackberries, thistles and peonies, and love for our God who made them all in delightful detail. Ruth paints the page with words and watercolors illustrating in living color how touchable worship can be in everyday life. There are simple prompts on full color pages in each chapter for ways to behold your people and this wild world - and not only in its beauty, but in its tears as well.
When you read this book, you’ll remember our world is a cathedral. As soon as I reached the last praising page, I began again, this time more slowly in awe of my ordinary and wonderful life, and wonder about yours, too.
Beholding and Becoming is an invitation to slow down, notice small things, and smile in alleluiahs. We walk every step of this bittersweet life with a beautiful, star-flinging, tear-catching God. Ruth’s book will remind you just how near is the One who loves us fiercely, tenderly, truly.