I enjoy people watching.
It’s not uncommon for me to observe public behaviors of complete and total strangers. I am amazed by how different I am from the people I observe, yet in many ways, I am very much the same.
The other day, while showing my patronage to the Perkins on Riverside with a late breakfast, I had the opportunity to behold a father and his one year old son. The father sat his son in his arms as he carried his boy through the restaurant to peer out the frost bitten window. I assume to calm the inquisitive child as they wait for their food.
Children show the greatest displays of inquiry and fascination.
At that age, and a few years beyond, fascination and amazement are paradigms in which people constantly dwell. Categories are being built for the experiences they have. Curiosity is filled through adventure and conquest; or perhaps better put: trial and error.
I can remember when I was younger (maybe 4, definitely before kindergarten), I saw an iron on an ironing table. It stood proudly and bored a lustrously strong chest. I had to touch it. I wanted to touch it because I knew the bottom would be cold and smooth to the touch. I thrust out my hand to fill my senses. Little did I know, my grandmother had just used the iron. Instead of taking my prize, I seized a handful of pain. Ever since, I have looked at “irons” with a formidable respect and an understanding that things may not always be what they appear. My curiosity ended with great disappointment and a wailing of tears.
But on this particular Saturday in Perkins, with great care, the father gently cultivated the child’s amusement. As they gazed out the window, they stood near a round table under a hanging lamp. The child lunged at the burning lamp to temper his curiosity. Wisely, the father moved just far enough away so that his son could admire his new treasure and not be harmed. The father’s joy increased as he watched his son marvel with simple, fulfilled wonderment.
“This” I thought, “is a great picture of God our Father.”
Far too often I forget I was made to be amused, to be delighted in, and to revel with awe & wonder. All the universe is a stage to which I am meant to marvel; and not only marvel at, but also to play a role in its plot. Our Father in heaven loves me more than I know. He loves you more than you know. All of creation exists so that we may taste and see pictures of his wondrous love for us. And our Father loves nothing more than to see us delight in him and his creation. He also knows the best ways for us to enjoy him.
The father stepping back from the lamp so his son could marvel at it, is a great picture of God’s commands and order for us. Many times I think and believe, wrongly, that God is an angry old man that yells “Get off my lawn!” while pointing a rifle down my throat. I am tempted to believe he is just a fear monger. Not so, instead God loves us so much he has given us the methods to enjoy him the most. Why? Because he cares about us and he wants to protect us from harm. He has rules for us to keep us from touching our hands against hot irons. This is an amazing reality. It’s a reality far easier to live out and obey than living out of fear. It makes the Gospel sweeter to hear.
The Gospel isn’t I obey therefore I am loved. The Gospel is I am loved therefore I obey.