The Kingdom of God is like a bunch of balloons. They are different colours, different shapes, different sizes and different appearances but, unless they are inflated, they are nothing but a gaudy mess of limp plastic. When the Breath of God fills them, however, they become a symbol of joy and fun. They denote party, celebration and special occasion.
From the balloons’ point of view, this process might not be comfortable. They will be stretched and they might do everything in their power to resist. It may even be painful. They may be afraid they will pop as they continue being stretched to their limit.
Our loving Heavenly Father knows exactly what He is doing. He will not allow us to be stretched beyond our limit and He is patient and gentle with us, taking time to stretch us a bit before fully inflating us.
It was 7am on a Saturday morning. I could hear them from over the wall. Laughter and excited chatter told me the three children were having fun on the slide/jungle gym combo in their garden.
All of a sudden there was a wooosh as the garden sprinklers went on.
“We’re trapped,” said the seven year old boy.
“You and I can get down the fireman’s pole,” his nine-year-old sister said, looking around at the options, “but I don’t think our little sister can. She’s only five.”
The next chapter of the story unfolded when I heard their father’s voice. “Come on, you can do it.”
I reconstructed the saga in my mind. One of the older children had slid down the fireman’s pole and gone to get help, possibly leaving the other with the youngest. Their father, instead of switching off the sprinklers, had used the opportunity to help his youngest daughter learn skills and gain confidence in her abilities. He was there with her, helping and encouraging her to slide down the pole.
I thought what a parable this was! Sometimes, when we are unable to pray, our brothers and sisters in Christ can call on our Father on our behalf. He will always come. He might not change the circumstances or take away our problems, but he will always be with us, holding our hands, encouraging us to learn new skills and gain confidence in our God-given abilities.
I only took three pairs of trousers when we went to Port Elizabeth to house-sit my brother’s house and keep an eye on our Mom. Two were long and the navy blue pair was just above ankle length, therefore the most suitable of the three for ten pin bowling. I couldn’t find them.
I looked in the obvious places:- the cupboard in the spare room my sister-in-law had cleared somewhat for us to hang clothes, the smaller cupboard in our bedroom where I kept underwear and things I hadn’t bothered to unpack yet. Nothing. Perhaps I had hand-washed them and they were hanging over the clothes horse where the sun normally streams into the spare room but gloomy light was all that was visible that day. All I saw there was a turquoise towel and a pair of black pants that probably belonged to my nephew.
Perhaps they were in the laundry bag. I emptied the contents onto the floor and searched through them one by one. Nothing.
I tried to think back carefully. When had I last seen them? Had I perhaps added them to the weekly wash and hung them up in the laundry? A short trip to the laundry dispelled that thought. I started my search from the beginning again. Not in the hanging cupboard, not in the bedroom cupboard. I looked carefully at the black pants hanging over the clothes horse. Surely they were too small for my nephew? I looked at the label. “David Jones. Size 14.” Then I recognised them. They were my missing navy cropped pants! I had looked right at them and not recognised them.
It was the week after Easter and our sermon that Sunday was from Luke 24 from verse 13 where the two followers from Emmaus did not recognise Jesus when he walked and talked with him. In the same way that I didn’t recognise my own clothes, they didn’t recognise their Lord. How many times in our daily lives do we not recognise the Lord when He is with us? Our eyes are too focused on our lives and our plans and our preconceived ideas in the gloomy light of everyday. Perhaps we need to examine carefully the happenings around us in the sunlight of God’s presence which is always with us.