I waivered between the $2.00 plain jane strawberries and their $3.00 more holy organic cousins; what is a dollar worth to me? What is the weight of pesticides and pennies? This must be why grocery shopping takes me the better part of three hours and I return home to a husband in disbelief it requires an entire evening to bring home our daily bread. My sniffing of strawberries and calculating of risk and benefits were interrupted by Judah,
"Mama, when's God gonna get out of our bellies?"
Truthfully, I ignored the question at first. The strawberries smelled sweet; they'd be great in Belle's lunch. Which to chose, which to chose.
He persisted, "MAMA! When is God going to get out of our bellies? He's in peoples' hearts. When is he going to get out of our bellies?!"
I'm pretty sure he's confused and has mixed his preschool systematic theology with his recent experiences of an invisible baby grown to maturity and exiting out of his 'mama's belly'.
We walk on toward the check out and I try to explain how God lives within us but he's in heaven and yet near anytime we call on him...and yes, in our hearts too. Everywhere.
I load produce and nuts and discounted meat atop the conveyer. Judah grabs a cooking magazine and sits in the middle of the aisle, leafing through recipes, licking his lips.
He asks for a penny to ride the pony, and by golly I found a lucky one just for him. I tell him we'll go together, soon as I pay, but he's my instant gratification child, the one who'd eat the marshmallow now despite being promised two later if only he'd wait (have you heard of that study?). He danced and waited an eternity of ten seconds before running full speed, mounting "Butterscotch LaLu" without my help (just a few months ago he was timid of this creature), inserting penny, and pressing go. I scribbled my signature without even looking, eagle eyes across the store on my boy, all guns and glory atop that pony.
We find our car and mean to find our way home, and in the madness of loading babies and bags of groceries, I left Judah unharnessed. Judah proudly announces he loves riding like this, no straps and free. We cross an eight lane highway and I dart instructions to strap himself in, right this minute. He explains how much he likes his riding without 'stwaps', and I return with threats of car crashes and him flying out of the vehicle if he's not strapped down to it.
He ponders for a moment and sweet as pumpkin pie reassures me, "Its okay mommy. I can't fly out of the car because I don't have any wings."
All of these conversations and I marvel at how abstract we speak and how concrete we live. My child calls me out on it. And I wonder more on how we approach this unseen kingdom through metaphors and ideas and there in Matthew Jesus' words of changing and becoming like a child, humble and trusting, if ever we are to enter the kingdom of heaven.
I feel like I'm close to something, some revelation for today. Today as I've already cried, just a little bit, over feeling frustrated with this walking by faith, but knowing there is no other way but the narrow path for us, because of the One leading us on it. Some days the woman in me just longs for a little concrete to sink my feet into, anchor down tight my world which feels so floaty up in the air. My frustration isn't in the path itself, but in this feeling of lack of control, as we prepare to pack up our lives and seek first the kingdom, resolving to take Jesus at his word that our Father knows we need food and clothing and shelter, why worry over these things. We seek first the kingdom, both in the abstract and in the concrete, and He supplies all these things. These concrete things. Some days it just seems easier to have a sign-on-the-dotted-line kind of job that will pack you up and pay for your move (or two if you're us) and benefits to boot. But I am reminded that Jesus and his disciples never really pursued an easy life. They did however, pursue an obedient one, a purpose-filled one, a life with clay feet firmly planted on earth but spirit eyes ever seeing the prize.
Because one very real day, God the Father, the Great I Am, will be out of our hearts and before our very eyes. Face to face. We will know him no longer in the abstract, but the concrete.
My three year old understands this, and oh how often I miss it. I pray for more faith, childlike and humble, help in my unbelief, and I repent of my loyalties toward my old masters of comfort and security. I want to live a life worthy of his name, want to live the faith of which I so easily speak.
I place the three dollar organic strawberries in the crisper, and a peace settles down over my heart. Jesus, the fullness of God, who made the abstract so concrete for us, leads.
And for today, he fills me with strength and faith and courage to press on.