Good morning, Mini-Women! Y'know, the term "mini-women" means girls between the ages of 8 and 12, so everyone here on the blog (except Miss Crystal and I) are somewhere in that group. No need to tell your exact age here on the blog. In fact, for safety reasons, we'd rather you didn't. Just a reminder!
Speaking of safety: that's on Jesus' mind today as we continue our Journey to Jerusalem.
We're not actually on the road today. We're all gathered around the fireplace in the small house in Capernaum, toasting marshmallows -- maybe enjoying some S'mores -- and talking some more about Jesus wanting us to be "simple believers." Some of us -- who are smart and independent and like to explore ALL the stuff (you, maybe?) -- are having a hard time with that. Jesus, of course, explains.
He says, "It's not that I don't want you to ask questions and talk about your doubts. I do, and that's why I'm here. You can come to me with anything."
Some of us are relieved. Some of us are still puzzled and someone licks the sticky marshmallow off of her thumb and says, "Then how can we be as simple as Maeryn if we're wanting to know more?"
Jesus smiles. "Have you SPENT any time with the kid? She's nothing BUT questions. But I don't expect her to KNOW everything. She's THREE. I'm more concerned about her staying with me, whether she has doubts and questions or not. I don't want her getting lost."
We're still giving him wrinkled-brow looks so he puts down his marshmallow-tipped coat hanger and uses his hands as he explains.
"What if we're continuing on our way to Jerusalem, and one of you wanders off." He smiles at up. "Now, who would that be?"
We all giggle and kind of look at each other.
"What would the rest of us do?" he says.
We have the answer to that one. "We'd go find her! We wouldn't stop looking until we did. We'd put up fliers. We'd knock on doors --"
"Okay, you get the idea. And when we found her, what would we do?"
We all agree that we'd hug her, make sure she was okay, hug her again -- maybe even order in special pizza to celebrate.
"Absolutely." Jesus shrugs. "So don't you think I do that whenever someone gets 'lost' from me in her soul?"
Somebody says, (you?), "Um, could you please explain that?"
Jesus nods. "Let's say one of you young believers gets the idea that just going to church and Sunday school is all you have to do to be my follower?"
Some of us squirm.
"Or something bad happens in your life and you get mad at God and won't talk to him."
A couple of us look down at our hands.
"Or you just get busy with soccer and school and friends and all of that and forget to talk to me or read about me?"
Ouch. EVERYBODY swallows hard.
"Do you think I just go, 'Oh, well. She's lost, but I have all these other mini-women so I'm good with that.'?"
We can't even imagine that. We shake our heads.
"But there's more," Jesus says. "I'm not the only one who's responsible for bringing people back when they get lost, or bringing them in when they never found me in the first place. You're part of that too. I want you to hang in there with your friends when they're lost from me. I want you to celebrate when it seems like they might be getting it." He leans in and looks each of us in the eyes. "I want you to help each other."
Some of us, of course, start to cry because, well, that's what we do. Some of us sit up straight and say, "I'm so going to do that from now on."
Some of us, though, are still a little confused. Are we supposed to, like, badger people? Bug them in the locker room and at soccer practice and in the dance studio and in the hall at school because they aren't being Christian enough?
"No, no," Jesus says. "I want you to be as gentle with them -- and with yourselves -- as you would be with Maeryn if she were lost. What would you do if you found her wandering and crying?"
"Give her a cookie!" someone says.
"Exactly," Jesus says.
And then he sits very still and looks into the dancing flames and lets us think about that. Some of us write about it in our Talking To God Journals. Some of us post a comment. We all reflect on how we ourselves are lost and who we know who's lost and what gentle thing we can do to show that Jesus loves us and wants us with him.
That's what we do.