I spent some time this past week with my three young nephews. One of the things I love about hanging out with small people is their fresh take on the world. They see things for the first time and are excited to share them with you.
They see possibility in the ordinary.
You may see a plastic disposable salad bowl ready for recycling – they see a boat ready for the paddling pool. All it needs is a mast fashioned out of a twig and a sail made from this handy leaf and… voila! You see a ramshackle old ruin of a building, broken down and covered in foliage – they see a castle and a place full of adventures. You see a tree, they see a climbing frame, you see a bit of old wire fence, they see….well they aren’t quite sure yet, but it could be something!
They live their lives on the lookout, seeing possibility everywhere. They show us something new in the oh so familiar.
I’m glad of their refreshing viewpoint. I need to be reminded, in my impressive grown up world of adulting every day, that I actually don’t know everything and even what has been familiar for years can be revealed to me in a new and powerful way.
I’ve been a Christian for around thirty years and in all that time my NIV Bible has been my trusty sidekick. I love the familiarity of certain passages, the language it uses and that I can find my way around easily. But all of that familiarity breeds, well not exactly contempt, but a certain comfort and complacency which means that I can scan over powerful and challenging words without taking any notice whatsoever. For this reason I decided to find a fresh pair of eyes and have been reading my way through the New Testament in The Message – and it has been a revelation.
I have found treasure in the most familiar places.
Sometimes just a new turn of phrase helps us to see something we’ve looked at all our lives in a fresh and wonderful way. Take, for example, the way in which Joseph of Arimathea is described in Mark 15.
He was one who lived expectantly, on the lookout for the kingdom of God.
That stopped me in my tracks. What an epitaph! Do I live expectantly? Am I on the lookout for the kingdom of God? Or do I spend my days giving my Creator a nod in the morning and then fail to see his hands at work all over my oh so familiar life?
I began to wonder what it would look like to live expectantly, and what I would see if I spent each day on the lookout for the kingdom? Would I perhaps see possibility in the ordinary? Would I find treasure in familiar places? Would you?
Perhaps that situation I have written off as impossible can be viewed from a new perspective. Maybe that relationship you thought was beyond repair becomes injected with fresh hope. The streets you walk along every day start tingling with potential. The Spirit starts nudging you closer to what has been overlooked for too long. He whispers to you of what the kingdom might look like here.
Come and see. Look under here. New shoots are growing. Will you water them, nurture them, plant them out into the light?
See this? The thing you discarded as useless, past its best? Here’s what I want to do with it. Will you give me your hands to make it happen?
Remember that person you met yesterday? Encourage them today. They need to hear kind words. It will transform their day and have far-reaching consequences you will never see.
The kingdom is here, hidden in plain sight. Can you see it?
Imagine what could happen if we each lived expectantly, what kingdom treasure would be uncovered if we looked for it each day?
I don’t know what I’ll find, but I’m excited to start looking.