Summer with kids screams the daily, material, ordinariness of life. In the prominence of all the ordinary, the tangible presses in on our moments and envelops our days as they spin into weeks and march toward Fall. Yes, we cherish the shining moments of spectacular sunsets and interludes on the pavement viewing roly polies as they curl and uncurl. We triumph at a first ride on a two-wheeler and delight at a bouquet of dandelions.
But so many other moments during summer involve the weary obligation of cleaning up after a camping trip, chasing flies around the house, spraying stained clothing. Hanging up wet towels and clothes, pulling weeds, intervening amid squabbles, mopping the floor one more time to find missed popsicle drips, removing splinters, applying sunscreen to squirming bodies, putting away bedding from last night’s sleepover, and buying yet another box of bandaids. Summertime is multi-tasking at its finest.
I find that in all the rush of nonstop ordinariness, I wonder if my kids are noticing God. I wonder if they’re sensing His presence in these days that for them are magical, glorious, sun-drenched times–but times where they seem quite focused on themselves. I wonder when that awareness of God and life underneath the surface of this one finds a regular place in their living.
The other day we were reading Good Dirt in the morning, in the family room with sleeping bags and pillows. My neice had spent the night with our two younger boys. They were up (very) early and bursting with energy. We read Mark 2:13-22, about the calling of Levi and about putting new wine into new wineskins. And then we got out paper and made two columns: The Kingdom of Me and The Kingdom of God. I expected resistance, but each child labeled their columns and readily got to work describing what each column was like.
One of them wrote this:
Kingdom of Me–bad things happen. I get disiplend (sic)
Kingdom of God–Good things happen. God gets sad.
They didn’t miss a beat in understanding the difference between the two kingdoms.
Later I read something by Dallas Willard. He has a new book out titled A Dallas Willard Dictionary, where various spiritual formation terms are defined using excerpts from his various books. I read the definition of “Spiritual Reality.”
Spiritual reality is the hidden–because nonphysical–ultimate and powerful foundation of the visible, material and finite universe. It is the “where” of spiritual beings. It is the kingdom of God.
And this is the quote included with Willard’s definition:
The visible world daily bludgeons us with its things and events. They pinch and pull and hammer away at our bodies. Few people arise in the morning as hungry for God as they are for cornflakes and eggs. But instead of shouting and shoving, the spiritual world whispers at us ever so gently. And it appears both at the edges and in the middle of events and things in the so-called real world of the visible … . the tendency of life in Christ is progressively toward the inward word to the receptive heart. The aim is to move entirely into the hidden realm of spiritual reality …” (excerpted from Hearing God)
Once again, I knew that these kids have eyes to see underneath the surface of their days. They can hear the inward word, and by and large they have receptive hearts. These kids are living in the kingdom of God. Even in summertime.