Toy Box to Tree
The LORD preserves the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. Psalm 116:6
Sometimes I worry about myself and the things I remember. I can’t seem to remember 5 things from the grocery store, but I can remember the silliest little details about things that seemingly have no relevance or importance. As I get older, I think sometimes things stick in our mind for a reason and we might do well to sit still for a bit and try to figure out what it is about simple, silly things that keep them in our mind. There is usually a reason and a message!
Last September I wrote a post about my Grandma Thelma and the flurry of conversation between cousins and aunts on Facebook on the day that would have been her 107th birthday. As the conversations continued on for days, I made mention of one simple toy from Grandma’s toy box. The toy I remembered was a red and yellow plastic motorcycle with a policeman on
it. I suppose the thing that made the toy memorable to me was the fact
that the policeman didn’t have a head. Now you might be wondering why Grandma would keep it around but the boy cousins would all explain that it was because that thing was indestructible. I thought I was the only one who remembered it but I was wrong. One cousin in particular spoke right up
and claimed to have the toy in his home. I was shocked! I remembered
it fondly because it spoke to my Grandmas resourceful character and her ability to find usefulness in almost anything but I figured the aunts and uncles had tossed it out when they cleaned out Grandma’s things. The surprise got even bigger this week when we were all tagged in a picture from the motorcycle owning cousin. The picture was of the toy, which has been turned into a Christmas tree ornament and is proudly and lovingly displayed
on his family Christmas tree every year. The simple picture drew me to tears and tossed me back in time several decades. I can honestly say I’ve
gone back to look at that picture more than a dozen times in the past few days and each time, I am flooded with memories and laughter and a sense of connection to cousins hundreds of miles away that I rarely have the chance to see. All that from a headless motorcycle cop hanging on a tree…silly; yes…powerful; you bet!
Jesus spent the three years of His public ministry traveling and teaching the people about His Father using parables. His parables were simple stories with a magnificent lesson. He chose to use something simple to grab the attention of His followers. I think He’s still doing the same thing today. When I wonder why on earth I can remember silly things He’s usually got something to tell me. That old toy/tree ornament is a great reminder of a family influenced by the simple, humble life of a faithful woman. It reminds me that I remain connected to the people who loved her even if we’re hundreds of miles apart. I remember my Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Justice because she taught with love and gentleness. I remember a classmate
in first grade who ate Elmer’s paste because it tasted minty not knowing it
could make him sick, I felt it was my duty to warn him; which he didn’t like but the teacher backed me up and I will always remember the day he thanked me for “keeping his belly safe.” I can’t remember to lay something out to thaw for supper but I remember as plain as day my next door neighbor playing along every year as my brother Jim and I put a bouquet of lilacs tied with fishing string on her front porch on May day. We'd hide in the bushes after ringing the bell and then tug the string to move the flowers each time she bent down to grab them. Every year she acted completely surprised that we could be so tricky! Why do I remember those things? I remember them because like the parables, they were simple, common things that demonstrated Christ-like values and behaviors.
Growing closer to Christ isn’t rocket-science! It’s very much about the little things; the simple things. Being a disciple is a job for everyone and if you’re looking for a way to find Him so you can follow Him…look for Him in the simple things that touch your heart…like headless motorcycle cop tree ornaments and the cousin who hangs it on his tree and then shares the picture…give it some thought and you will find Him in the middle of it all gently, sweetly, simply inviting you in.
A Seed To Plant: Pick a parable…any parable and read it, then read it slowly and ask God to show you a word or a phrase that will draw you more tightly to Him.
Blessings on your day!
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