An unexpected, unseasonably warm and sunny day had rolled in, carrying a slight breeze, a bunch of seagulls, the sound of soft waves touching the shore. On this day, it was like life was put on pause as my friend Brian walked along the beach with his 5-year-old son. For that segment of time, there were no worries about unpaid bills, looking for more work, or stretching a few dollars at the grocery store. Not one heavy topic existed. Just sensory overload of sun and waves and…
“Why did God send Jesus?”
Brian stopped and stared at his son. He told me later he had no idea how to answer that. This little short guy, this 5-year-old, looked up expecting an answer. Brian said he was stumped — because all his knowledge about Scripture wasn’t going to work this time.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I don’t want to think. Sometimes I think too much, and the days are heavy enough without having to attempt to answer theological, philosophical questions. Especially from someone who’d only be satisfied with a simple explanation. ; ) But back to my friend’s predicament…
Thankfully for Brian, before he could even attempt a word, his son’s attention was caught by a flock of seagulls. They were up ahead, sitting together, facing the ocean. The little boy loved birds. He loved watching them fly. And he especially loved when they were down on his level. Brian kept his eye on his son, watching as he happily and cautiously got closer and closer to the birds — and then, in a fit of exuberance, ran screaming with complete joy, trying to join them in their inner circle.
But the birds flew away.
And his son dropped to his knees, and cried huge tears, the kind only a 5-year-old can produce in an instant of utter hurt.
“Hey, hey, Buddy!” His dad ran up and scooped him in the air, into his arms. “You’re okay. What’s up? What’s with those tears, huh?”
“They flew away, Daddy!”
“Well, of course they did! You’d fly away too if some giant was chasing you. Wouldn’t you?”
The little boy thought for a moment, as another tear fell down his cheek. “But I’m not a giant.”
He set his son down, and they both sat on the warm sand. Brian held him as they looked out over the ocean. A barge was in sight now, along with a sailboat. He kissed his son’s head and wiped another tear away. “To them you are.”
“Yeah.” Brian looked down the beach, where the seagulls found another place to congregate. He stared at them for long time, as his son dug holes in the sand with his toes. They sat there like that for quite a while, not counting time. Brian let the heaviness of the day in a bit… The bills, the job search, providing… He said a little prayer. He knew the One who listened. He knew that even on a bad day, God was still good, like an unexpected warm day in winter…
Brian looked toward the seagulls again. He wished nature mingled more with humans. It would’ve made his son’s day, if only they had stayed… And then Brian said it dawned on him — the answer to his son’s question…
“You know what you asked me before about Jesus? About why God sent Him to us?”
“You still want to know?”
His son nodded and looked up with bright eyes.
“Because He knew if He came down here as Himself, we’d all run away…”
“‘Cause He’s a giant, right?”
“Like I’m a giant to birds?”
“I wouldn’t run away from Jesus though. Would you?”
“Nah…” Brian answered, thinking about the times he actually had…
“That’s nice of God,” the little boy said.
“Yeah… That was very nice…”
I’ve since heard similar stories from others, and know God speaks to all of us in the same — and in different — ways. That story will always be special to me, as it reminds me of another facet of our Father’s undying Love for us … sending Jesus so we wouldn’t be afraid of Him when He approached, so we could see Him up close and walk with Him and hear everything on His heart … and find out we’re on His heart… The One you’d call Friend and Protector, who’d die saving you if it meant you’d live with Him forever… The One whose Kingdom isn’t on these shores, but who owns it all anyway — who’s bigger than bills, and jobs, and provision, and illness, and despair, and everything else that plagues the human condition… I’m so grateful… Even when life doesn’t turn out the way we’d hoped… Even on bad days, semi-bad days, and those that are just mildly bad, I’m so grateful for Jesus… Of course, there are the good days too, thank God… And He’s right there in those as well… Like a gentle, fierce Giant…
The accompanying photo is of my friend Alicia Calmes, used with her permission (www.aliciacalmes.com).