Yesterday, it snowed. The kids were having breakfast when it happened. The drizzly rained turned into fat white feathers that floated softly down from the sky and clung, for a moment, on the evergreens.
All five children dropped their spoons and rushed to the windows, wonderstruck. The twins, who have not seen very much snow in their four years of living, ran to the sliding glass door and looked out on the deck. Jonathan took pictures. Kya asked about sledding. Everyone insisted that we were going to have to take a snow day.
It was beautiful, to be sure, but somewhere in the course of days, I have wearied of snow. It covers the roads like it did the day my father died, and I worry. It blows up in my face and burns my fingers and makes the chicken water freeze over. It falls in my shoes and freezes my feet all the way to church.
But my children did not know all these things. They were simply captivated by the magic of it. Their faces shone with wonder. Even though snow and I are not on the best of terms, I couldn’t help but be swept up by the wonder myself, like a child.
I wondered, as I stared out the window, how many miracles I overlook each day because I have become too old to see. I wonder how much I have missed because I have ceased to wonder. I wonder how much I have missed of God because I have taken the miracles for granted, like the Israelites who grumbled against the manna that fell from the sky and kept them satisfied enough to complain.
I remembered a time some years ago, when I had an opportunity to crawl up on Jesus’s lap like a child and stare at his face in wonder. But I was too big and stood off in the crowd with a frown on my face and a to-do list on my mind.
It happened on a Sunday, and it was all John Paul’s fault.
John Paul is a grown up boy who comes to church every Sunday in the same suit. He is older than me on the outside, but not on the inside.
John Paul lives with his married brother because he can’t quite live on his own, and he walks to church in cowboy boots and a baseball hat because he can’t quite drive. He has a bike which sometimes gets stolen and sometimes gets lost, but he doesn’t mind walking and he doesn’t mind hitching a ride.
Every week, he counts the number of Volkswagen Beetles he sees so he can report the number to me the following Sunday, although I’m 99% sure he inflates the stats because I’ve never in my life seen 15,000 Beetles and I’ve been to junkyards.
If you talk to John Paul for any length of time, you will hear about his favorite football team and the latest movie he has seen. And, you will hear about his mother who killed herself when John Paul was not old enough to understand. He will never be old enough to understand.
But one thing John Paul understands is Jesus.
One Sunday, I was having trouble focusing on the sermon. Was it just me or was this going longer than usual? Was it just me or had I heard this all before? When the pastor launched into a “Come to Jesus” message, I stopped talking notes and started thinking about what to make for lunch.
The pastor’s voice filtered in as I considered whether or not I had tomato soup to go with the grilled cheese. All the parts about sin and a holy God and a perfect payment washed over me without making me a drop wet. “God is a gentleman,” the pastor was saying, “and a just judge! If you don’t want Jesus to pay your debt, you are welcome to pay it on your own. But the debt must be paid. The question is, who is going to pay it? You? Or Jesus?”
From somewhere in the sanctuary, John Paul’s voice rang out, “Pastor, I choose Jesus!”
Astonished, I looked over at him. He held his hat in his hands and he leaned in to hear every familiar word. His face wore the wonder of the gospel, his eyes were wet with tears that came from knowing what had been done for him.
My face burned with shame. John Paul is just a great big child whose heart is still young enough to hear the same story over and over without growing old in the hearing. But I was not. I had lost my wonder. I had grown weary of the miracle.
But God, in His mercy, has given me five pairs of new eyes. He has given me ageless hearts, like John Paul’s, to remind me of the ordinary, astonishing miracles of earth and eternity. He has given me a thousand new opportunities to hear the same story with new ears and to be humbled, felled, and wonderstruck at what has been done for me.
I am reminded when I read the Easter story to my boys and Paul begins to cry. I am reminded when Kya prays almost every night, “Thank you, Jesus, for dying for my sins.” I am reminded when Micah’s voice comes down from his perch on the toilet where he’s singing “Holy, holy, holy!” in his loudest voice. I am reminded when Jonathan wants to give all his money in the offering or when Faith asks when we’re going to adopt a child who needs a home.
The beauty of these days is that they are full of newness. Awe. And wonder. I am given a chance to be a child again, and that is something I need.
“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” –Mark 10:15