Daily Write 2

A porcelain horse stands on my bookshelf, Guardian of the Books. His coat is mossy gray, cold and slightly scuffed to the touch, like something that was once smooth as a round marble but has been roughened by the dust of years. I don’t actually know how old he is, but I could imagine that he is a hundred years old. His black eyes – satin black gems of some sort – seem to be quite ancient, in an introspective sort of way. If I look into them, I think of all the days they might have seen, of the fields and cities, of battles and celebrations, of rooms and people far beyond my own. But when I look into either of his, for I cannot stare deeply into both at once, being as they are placed on opposite sides of his head, I see nothing but a distorted reflection of myself, and thus his mystery deepens.

I wonder how many other admirers have touched his flowing black mane; it has a touch of green to it, as if someone painted his mane emerald before it was painted black. His bridle, too, is green, but a dusty, hazy bluish-green the same color as his saddle pad. And the saddle itself, as porcelain as the rest of the horse, is the color of the Grand Canyon walls, a dull brown with hints of red and purple.

Indeed, the seat of the saddle is the smoothest part of the entire figurine, much like a saddle on display in a museum, worn nearly through the seat from years of use. The rest of the saddle may be cut, scratched, patched or worn through, but that seat is smoother and shinier than the day it was made.

But nobody has ever ridden this porcelain horse, have they? He’s a figurine, a decoration, an item at a garage sale.

Ahhh…now this is when that glorious human ability comes into play – “imagination.” Because how many other fingers have rubbed over that same seat? How many horseless children have placed this figurine upon a chipped windowsill and ran their fingers across the saddle, squinting their eyes until the skyscrapers become mountains, the streetlights campfires in the valley below, the honking cars bleating sheep, the rushing traffic the roar of a waterfall, the smell of car exhaust the stench of an enemies’ fires…and suddenly the children are no longer in their bedroom but sitting astride a mossy gray horse, watching over a war-torn valley from a secret, private overlook. They hold the blue-green bridle reins – soft as twisted curtains in their hands – and feel the black mane whisk upon their cheeks like a gentle breeze.

You know the rest of the story, I’m sure, so I needn’t detail here how the children ride off on that imaginary horse.

 

Not “Just”

I recently borrowed a movie called Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. While there were certain aspects of the movie that I didn’t approve of, I fell in love with the overall theme of the movie. It’s a story that focuses on using one’s imagination, believing the unbelievable, and making the impossible possible. It has a beautiful plot with incredible quotes and photography that encourage the viewer to take a childish, innocent, and awed look at the world without any of the legalities and restrictions that our “realistic,” “mature” adult minds tend to use.

During one scene in the movie, the business-minded accountant — who has no belief in magic whatsoever — is asking the store manager Molly Mahoney what the matter is with the Emporium, which is Mr. Magorium’s toystore. Molly tells the accountant that it’s a magical toystore but he refuses to take her word literally, sure she’s using “magical” as a figurative way to describe the store. Frustrated, Molly tells him that he is a “just guy” —

“A guy just like you. Same hair, same suit, same shoes, walks around, no matter what, you think it’s all just a store, it’s just a bench, it’s just a tree. It’s just what it is, nothing more! “ (IMDB)

Ever since watching that movie, I’ve noticed the same “just guy” (or “gal”) mentality popping up occasionally in one of the Bible studies I attend. While we try to dig into Scripture, sometimes a verse just seems straightforward. Somebody will explain, “It just means that it’s only by grace that we’re saved,” or “It just means that Christ is the second Adam who saves us, just like the first Adam condemned us.” And then we move on. It’s just this, it’s just that. No awe. No amazement. It’s just matter-of-fact, take-it-as-it-is.

I’m getting to the point where I want to scream, “No, it’s not!”

Jesus Christ didn’t just die for us. God didn’t just sacrifice His Son for us. We weren’t just given His grace. We weren’t just saved from the punishment we deserve for our sins.

The problem is that we have heard these messages so often that we have lost our wonder for them. We have adopted that stagnant, this-is-a-fact-of-life mindset even in relation to the Scriptures. And let me ask you, how believable are the stories and messages in Scripture if we take a look at them as if we’ve never seen them before? God literally became a human being? God is three Persons in One? Jesus lived a perfect life and after He died and was buried for three days, He came back to life again? All of the wrongs we have ever done in our entire lives can be washed away by the blood of one Man? God actually cares about the measly human beings here on earth?

How believable is any of that? How “just” is Scripture?

No wonder Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Luke 18:16b-17).

Children implicitly believe what they are told, and they tend to adore the teller. Jesus desires that same implicit belief and adoration. But children also never lose their sense of wonder and amazement toward the world around them. Don’t you think Jesus wants the same from us? For us to be ever in awe of what He has done in the past as recorded in Scripture, of what He is working in our lives on a daily basis? For us to never take Him for granted, to never rationalize and simplify what He has done as mere fact, to never say “He just does this” and move on with our lives?

Have we forgotten how magical, improbable, and impossible our God is? Do we speak of Him as “just God” or as….

God?