Several months ago, about 20 fathers and their sons from our church embarked on a hiking trip in Arkansas. We had a great time talking and cutting up. As with any event with the family, my goal is to use the opportunity to provide training and/or equipping resources. On this trip, I provided some devotions, book resources for fathers and sons, and what it means to have a faith talk and faith walk with your family. Nothing lengthy or in depth because we wanted the trip to be laid back, a chance to connect with our sons, and allow fathers to lead out with the devotions with their sons. It was a great weekend.
However, I didn’t expect to learn a lesson about the Gospel from a four year old boy, Nico.
Ron, Nico’s father, Nico and I brought up the rear. Nico walked ahead with me a little ways as Ron finished locking up the bus. As we made our way down the trail, we had lost sight of the rest of the group. As we rounded a bend, we caught sight of one of the older boys. Nico made the comment how fast the older boy was walking. And then he said this: “…but not as fast as God.” I smiled and said you are so right Nico because God is everywhere at the same time. No one is as fast as God.
After a great day of hiking, we were making our way back home. As we were riding through Memphis, we noticed a freight train moving across the bridge that spanned the expressway. Ron pointed the train out to Nico. Nico thought it was cool, and then without hesitation said… “but not as cool as God.”
It hit me. Isn’t that the way we should see Christ in everything. Isn’t that what we should be saying to ourselves every day? It would put so many things in perspective in life. How many temptations to idolize things would be derailed if this was the attitude of our hearts? How many idols would I avoid simply because I thought: “Wow, that ______ would be great, but its not as great as Jesus.” Or when I am tempted to some sin, and I would say to myself: “But it is not as good as God.”
What happens when circumstances in our lives turn to the dark side, and hit us in the gut? Cancer, death, or whatever ramps up your stress quotient. “But it is not as strong as Jesus.”
What about when a windfall of blessing whether material or otherwise occurs in my life, and brings joy to my heart? “But it is not as good as Jesus’ presence in my life.”
Nico made much of God in so many things that day. At age 4, he is grasping a great truth!
I am thankful for Ron and his wife Jennifer for teaching him to make much of God. As parents, we can refocus our children’s wide-eyed attention for the latest and greatest to the One who outshines them all, Jesus. Yes, God gives us good things to enjoy, but….they are “not as cool and awesome as God.”
C.S. Lewis’ following illustration from a tool shed runs parallel with Nico’s perspective on the awesomeness of Jesus Christ:
“I was standing today in the dark tool shed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it.
Then I moved, so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no tool shed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, ninety-odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.”
The beam is beautiful, but the sun that much more so. God wants us to enjoy life, and the things that he gives us, but his aim for us is to admire His glory. Who He is.
John Piper follows this up by saying Jesus “purchased everything that is good for us. His glory is where the quest of our affections must end. Everything else is a pointer-a parable of this beauty. When our hearts run back up along the beam of blessing to the source in the blazing glory of the cross, then the worldliness of the blessing is dead, and Christ crucified is everything.”
Our boasting and rave reviews should be for our loving and gracious Savior, Jesus Christ. Everything else pales in comparison. Paul states in Galatians 6:14: “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Finally, the theological truth from a 4 year old:
“This world is good, but its not near as good as Jesus!”