When Wonder Never Ceases

psalm 71

Every spring for the past five years or so, we’ve watched caterpillars climb to the top of a tiny cup, flip themselves upside down, spin a chrysalis, and emerge a week later as butterflies.

This year, though, my daughters suggested doing something different.

After all, we’re old hands at this metamorphosis thing.

How about something new?

What if we ordered a frog kit instead?  The company sends us a tadpole. We watch it become a frog and then we release it in a local pond.  Perfect!

So, I started researching frog kits and we were all excited until I read the comments.  These frogs live for 20-30 years.

I wasn’t sure I wanted such a long-term commitment.  My children should be off living adult lives by then and I’d still be home tending to our everlasting frog.

And we couldn’t release this frog to any old outdoor body of water either.  The frogs in the kit aren’t native to our area, and that could devastate the local wildlife population.

So, we decided that unless we found a local tadpole who we could raise to become a local frog, we’d stick to caterpillars in a cup.

I’m so glad we did.

Those caterpillars arrived and my son watched their centimeter long bodies creep around the plastic.

He learned how to say ‘caterpillar’ and he said it over and over and over, pointing at them to make sure I’d seen them and knew they were in our house sitting on our fireplace mantle.

He couldn’t wait to share the good news about the caterpillars. He told me. He told his dad.  He told his sisters.  He told the air.  “Caterpillar, caterpillar, caterpillar.”

And then each caterpillar spun into a chrysalis and my son learned a new word and made more grand announcements.

The translation went something like this:

“Caterpillar go up.  Sleeping in chrysalis.”

Who knew an unmoving chrysalis could be so entertaining?  He’d watch the cup just as happily as if the caterpillars were still crawling around in there.

Then the most exciting day came.  We peeked into the bug carrier and saw our first butterfly, completely still, waiting for his wings to dry.

My son now had big news.  Big, big news.

“Caterpillar go up.  Sleep in chrysalis.  Butterfly.”

As more butterflies emerged, they began fluttering around and hopping onto the flowers we’d left for them.

And my son giggled.  He just laughed and laughed at the sight.

In all our planning and thinking that maybe the butterfly thing was old-news and maybe we should try something different, I’d forgotten that even though we’d seen the butterflies transform year after year, he hadn’t.

For my son, this was newfound joy.  This was childlike wonder and living amazed at the beauty of new life.

In Luke 5, I read about the disciples limping onto shore after a long and unsuccessful night of fishing.

They’d caught nothing.

Yet, Jesus sends them back out.  He tells them to set down those same nets into that same water.

Simon Peter protests at first but chooses to obey.  They take the boat out.  They put down the nets yet again.

And they haul in the catch of all catches.

Their nets broke with the weight of the fish.  They yelled for partners to join them out on the water to haul in the load faster.

Luke writes:

…he (Peter) and all those with him were amazed at the catch of fish they took  (Luke 5:9 HCSB).

They were amazed.  They were flabbergasted and overwhelmed by awe.  They were made breathless by the wonder.

I bet they were pulling with all their might, load after load, like the fish just wouldn’t stop coming, and they must have been breathless and laughing in astonishment.

They’d yanked nets of fish into their boats many times before.  This was different.  This was God-at-work.

Years from then, those disciples would see the lame dance, the blind see, the deaf hear, food multiplied to feed a crowd, and their crucified Savior resurrected.

But right at this moment, they marveled at a boat weighed down with fish.

I pause and ask for this:

Lord, help me be amazed. Like my son standing on a kitchen stool so he can watch butterflies bounce around their home…..like the disciples exclaiming over an inexplicable abundance of fish….let me rejoice in you.

Don’t let me lose the wonder, not the wonder of the cross, the wonder of your creation, the wonder of your grace poured out in every detail of my life.

Help me to see afresh.  Help me to consider anew.  Fill me with such childlike joy in the Good News that I can’t help but share it over and over and over.

This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes (Psalm 118:23).

Living the “Real”

Her “Other-Grandma” had a purple house.

That’s what my three-year-old told me, not just once, but all through the day.  Her Grandma had a purple house and her Grandma’s cat had shimmied up a tree and needed firefighters to rescue her.

My preschooler’s imaginary friends expanded over time to include an imaginary “other” family and that “other” family now includes grandparents…and their pets.

I just nodded and “mmm-hmmmed” and let her create.  No need really to dispute the existence of the purple house.

But then, as we drove along a winding road with scattered houses, she saw “it.”

The house.

Yes, the purple house…more like mauve, perhaps.  Close enough.

My daughter erupted, pointing and practically trying to leap out of her five-point harness seat.  “There it is!  My grandma’s purple house!  It’s there!  I see it!!”

There in that moment, nothing could be more exciting, not a circus or Disney World or the largest ice cream sundae, than her imaginary creation becoming “real.”

I wanted that.  Not a purple house or a cat awaiting rescue.  I wanted “real” and the excitement of discovery, that total awareness of this moment and God at work and how it’s not just words on a page or another’s testimony or a video, or a Facebook post, or a Pinterest pin, or a blog.

Real in me, real in my life, so real I sense it in every way, so real I’d be jumping out of my seat to share with others.

Living in the “real,” though, that’s so hard, that takes effort to fight for it, to insist on it, to discipline ourselves for it.

So much more tempting to live in a world of “what-if’s” and worry, hypothetical tragedies and made-up fears that paralyze us in this moment.

So much easier to pin 50 Pinterest activities to do with our kids than live in the simple and the now, push a swing, swash a paintbrush of watercolors on a white paper, bake the cookies.

So much more inspiring to rejoice in the testimonies of others and what God is doing in them than open our eyes wide to what God is doing here in us.

So much less effort to read someone else’s thoughts on the Bible than turn its pages ourselves to read those God-breathed words and pray, “God, speak truth to me.”

So much more fun (less depressing?) to read the blog posts of Mom-tips, wifely-advice, decorating and fashion pointers than look at our own carpets and curtains and push through the clothes in our own wardrobes.

Truly, how did our moms do this?  Do life without online advice and helps?

I love it; I do. I find so many activities I do with my kids, so many teaching tools and home strategies, recipes, and spiritual object lessons online.  I’m a better mom for it…..as long as I do them, as long as I really take the time with my family, not just immerse myself in someone else’s perfect mom moments.

But all those online people with all that online expertise have to live out the Real, too.  They have to wash the dirty dishes, vacuum the stained carpet, break up sibling spats, and yes, surely their lives have mundane and ordinary.  We might only read their highlights and see the pictures of their successes.  Yet, bad days and stress happen to all of us.

So much potential for good here.

And so much potential for discouragement, dissatisfaction, insecurity, uncertainty, jealousy, laziness, and for missing out.

When the captives returned to Jerusalem in the book of Ezra, they personally rebuilt the crumbled remains of the temple and one day they stood before the finished work, amazed:

But many of the older priests, Levites, and family leaders, who had seen the first temple, wept loudly when they saw the foundation of this house, but many others shouted joyfully. The people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shouting from that of the weeping, because the people were shouting so loudly. And the sound was heard far away (Ezra 3:12-13).

The way those shouts of joy mixed in with the weeping, that’s the power of the Real.  All those years of talking about the temple, telling stories about the temple, and imagining the temple transformed in that moment when they saw it with their very own eyes.

They saw God’s glory, His mercy, His capacity to redeem and restore His people.  They knew for themselves that God had chosen them, loved them, and wanted to be among them.

It was Real and Real overcame them.

I want to be overcome.

This husband, these children, this home, this garden, this day with this weather, this God at work in this very life, this Real is where I can be amazed by God at work if I will open my eyes to see Him right here in my own Real life.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King