going

The screen was a complete blur, except for my face on my side of the Facetime call. Toddler feet pounded the floor loudly in a speedy rhythm for a 3 year old. The well-worn path around his kitchen and living room had officially turned into ‘the track.’

“We are running around the track, Aunt Steph!”

The phone continued to bounce and twirl as the hues in his house became an abstract swirl of color while we ran and ran and ran around the track.

Abruptly, he stopped, slid underneath a bar stool, and said, ‘Shhhh…we are hiding!”

I hear my brother in the background, “You are not hiding good enough. I can still see you.”

Giggles…from my side and from my nephew as his silly grin flashed across his face.

I have had a ridiculously awesome amount of time with my nephew in the last year. Time that I would have never had if I had not moved back to KC when I did, or if I were not working remotely for the church as we continue to meet online for church during COVID.

This morning I apparently got declared his ‘favorite’ over breakfast, because I take him to go see our fishy buddies at the Bass Pro aquarium. When I first called this morning, I heard “AUUUUUUUNNNNNTTTTT STEEEEEEPPPPPPPHHHHHHH!” then his footfalls as he ran to take the phone from his dad. He asked, ‘You coming over? Are we going to go see our fishy buddies?”

“Sorry, buddy, I am three hours away at my house.”

“Oh. At your place? In Kansas City?”

“Yup.”

“Okay. Your room is very big. Daddy, I need your phone. I need to show her something!”

It was especially important for me to see the trucks on the couch taking the ‘hill,’ and “Look, I put this one on the trailer.”

Then I got put on the trailer, or at least his dad’s phone got put on the trailer and told to “Hang on.”

My nephew is constantly going, and frankly, sometimes hard to keep up with, because everything above happened in about 5 minutes this morning. It is his unquenchable thirst for imagination and being with people that fuel his constant ‘going.’ For sure a lot of ‘toddler,’ too, but his mind and body are always going, going, going.

When I first chose to be a follower of Jesus, I was 19 years old and in college. Once I started reading the words of Jesus…I started going at full speed and in a lot of ways never stopped going just like my nephew. The going was always common sense to me as a follower of Jesus. I read what Jesus said, and he said to go. How could I disobey the One who I had willingly chosen to follow? I had weighed my choice and accepted there would be sacrifices in my choice. It wasn’t until I was in full-time ministry that I realized some people just went to church, and then went on with their every day lives like Jesus only showed up on Sunday, in a pew, in a building.

But that was never who Jesus was for me.

Jesus for me was adventure.

Jesus for me was healer.

Jesus for me was unconditional love.

Jesus for me was acceptance in all my failure, guilt, insecurities, and shame, as well as in the things I was successful.

Jesus for me was a rebel who fought for relationships, handed out grace freely and worked against injustice.

Jesus for me was a calling to finally live a life with real purpose, instead of defining myself by the successes of this world.

That purpose came with going wherever I was led to go, and by investing in relationships where I was meant to be in community with love, truth, compassion, dignity, respect, and humility.

That purpose came in discovering the reality of God actively building his Kingdom on earth and inviting us to work with him toward the restoration of our. That there was something to participate in as an entire community of believers that would reflect the image of God and bring glory to him.

Just as Jesus is exalted, we are meant to bring him glory. Through our faith, through our hope, through our calling and through our going. That Jesus in us would be an explosive burst of light that is the light of resurrection…and restoration.

 May our feet run with the unhindered endurance and tenacity of toddlers as we run with Jesus wherever he is going for his Kingdom to be known on earth.

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