I may be touch-and-go for the rest of the month, but back to the Blog Every Day in May challenge! Today I am supposed to share a childhood memory and be as descriptive as possible. (Actually, this is yesterday's prompt, but I already did today's prompt on Day 5 by accident.)
The memory I am going to share came to my mind after I got home from work this morning. I came in and greeted my pets. Being oblivious as I am, I walked into the next room, and when my puppy didn't follow me as usual I went back to see why not. I hadn't even noticed (possibly because I didn't turn the light on when I came in), but he had picked a tag off the bottom of a rug - a large, sticky tag - and his right paw was stuck to his head and one of his eyes was covered. He had gotten himself into quite a mess! It was simultaneously humorous and sad - quite a funny sight, but at the same time painful for him because I had to hold him and painstakingly pull the sticker out of his long hair!
While I worked, I thought about how God has to help us out of our messes in much the same way, and I remembered a lesson from a summer youth camp speaker from when I was a child. This speaker, Pastor Bubba (whose real name was Jim Smith, and who became a friend of mine after I was grown and moved to Missouri), would send a shoe box with a random child each day, to be returned the next day in the morning church service with a "mystery" item inside. It could be anything. And Pastor Bubba would have to give a 60-second sermon on whatever was in the box.
I recall such items being brought as a rock, a stick, a "walking stick" (the insect), a dirty diaper, a frog.... Yes, kids can be quite imaginative ;). But Pastor Bubba was always able to come up with a sermon. The walking stick hearkened to Moses' rod that became a snake in the presence of the Pharaoh; the frog presented an opportunity to talk about the plagues God brought up on Egypt preceding the Exodus...the dirty diaper represented the messes God has to clean up in our lives.
The lesson is that the most ordinary thing in the world can teach us something about God.
After I was grown I worked for someone who was a minister who traveled extensively in the United States (and sometimes elsewhere), and she was known for her object lessons. Part of my job was to help her prepare for her travels, which included packing all the items she would need for illustrations during her seminars. Some of the items included a punch bowl; a toy egg; Hersey's chocolate syrup; a toy hatchet, carrot peeler, and potato; a puzzle; a bag of balloons; a piece of carbon paper and receipt...and I'll bet you're wondering what spiritual significance could possibly be found in any of these items.
Take the hatchet, carrot peeler, and potato. My boss would demonstrate how God uses the events in our life to shape us and prepare us for the vocation to which He has called us...and sometimes it is gentle, like a carrot peeler, while other times it feels like He is hacking away with a hatchet! But the end result is something usable. And the carbon paper? Because God does not use carbon paper - when He forgives, He forgets, and never brings it up again. She would tell her listeners that she had stopped and bought lunch on the way in, and ask if anyone there would be willing to take the receipt back to the restaurant and pay for her meal. Inevitably, someone would volunteer, and she would ask, "But why would you pay for my meal when it has already been paid for?" The same holds true when we hold ourselves in shame over sins that have already been forgiven.
The simple, everyday things of life can teach us a lot. That's why Jesus used them in His parables - things like seeds, children, coins, sheep....
God is not hard to find if we look.