“I’m wondering what you think about that,” I said. “And what is making you ask that good question.”
“Well I’ve been reading these Bible stories- by myself, you know- and DO PEOPLE KNOW WHAT’S IN THERE? There’s a lot of bad stuff!” he said. “Like plagues and even babies killed- or about to be killed- and babies didn’t do anything. It doesn’t seem like God would do that. I asked my mom and she said that God is the same yesterday today and tomorrow. But I just wonder about that.”
Big questions. BIG QUESTIONS.
So I told him a story, one of my favorites. God created the world and put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They could eat from any tree in the garden except for the tree of good and evil. Eat from that tree, God said, and you will die. So what happened? They ate from the tree, saw they were naked, made clothes out of fig leaves, and hid from God. And what did God do? Did God put them to death, like God promised? No. God goes after them and tells them their consequences-which were tough and not fun- and God notices them in their flimsy fig-clothes which didn’t even fit. And what does God do? HE SEWS THEM CLOTHES HIMSELF.
God had promised death, but delivered mercy. It happens over and over in that big confusing wonderful book. God changes God’s mind, offering mercy to broken, mixed up people.
Plus, there’s Jesus, to give us a clearer picture of who God is. Jesus, whose favorite things to do are to love God, to love people, and to offer them mercy. It’s Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) Yay for that. When in doubt of who God is at the heart, we can always look to Jesus.
All this heavy stuff reminds me of my newest non-heavy discovery. I went for a walk last night and couldn’t get over the purple flowers/weeds along the alleyway behind my house. They came from nowhere, and now they were EVERYWHERE. Just last fall we had walked that same road, and all I remembered noticing were cool weeds that I used to play with that we always called Silver Dollars. Who knew that under ground these flowers were waiting to emerge! I thought.
Are you acquainted with Silver Dollars? You can find them at craft stores with the dried flowers and they really do look like silver dollars, once you peel off their ugly crackled skins and set them free to be their beautiful selves. It’s a great kid activity to help them shed their skins and oddly satisfying. (Sorry neighbors for the seeds I scattered nearly every day like Johnny Appleseed of the Silver Dollar world.) Inside the skin seed purse are little seeds and a silvery translucent disk that looks like cellophane.
After my walk I googled them. And guess what? The purple flowers, the ones with the blooms like little crosses, they’re the exact same plant as the silver dollars! They weren’t under ground, waiting to emerge. They were right there in front of me, just in another form, in another stage. This
plant with the purple flowers and the cellophane disks is also called honesty. Honesty, because you can see right through those coins.
We need to see the whole plant to understand it- see it’s stages and how it grows and lives and dies. And we need to see the whole Trinity to understand God, how God and our understanding of God has grown through the person of Jesus Christ, how he lived and died.
Know what else? Honesty/Silver Dollars are part of the mustard family. You know what Jesus said about the mustard seed, right? Maybe the kingdom of God could be like an Honesty seed, which an unsuspecting walker released as she walked her dog. Though it is the smallest of all seeds yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.
Okay, so it’s not a tree, so let’s turn to the real parable. The kingdom of God is like a great tree, big enough for all us birds, with our broken wings and stubbornness about what we think we know, supported by a mercy loving God. Yes, God changes his mind, always offering mercy. May we be ready to do the same.