I’m fascinated by the courage and daring-do of my granddaughter. Sydney is eight, and her capacity to catch snakes, turtles, lizards, frogs and various other critters without hesitation boggles my mind. One of her happy places is standing ankle deep in the pond behind our home, catching with her bare hands whatever wanders, swims or drifts her way.
Me? I don’t like to get my hands dirty.
I’m not a germaphobe. I’ve picked up my share of child and dog do-do, cleaned up vomit and sopped up blood from countless wounds. But at the end of the day, I really don’t like that mess on my hands.
Sydney is an adventurer at heart. She and her brothers and little sister love the excitement of discovery, the joy of the unknown, finding things that both excite them and gross out the adults at the same time. If they come in with pond scum on their hands and feet, all the better.
And I have to ask myself: When did I get so prissy? When did it become so easy to play it safe?
I remember as a child I used to love to roam the vacant lots, finding garter snakes, scaring my twin sister with them. I would rather be barefoot than have shoes on, and my feet at the end of the day looked like hobbit feet. And I used to love to climb trees.
As I got older, it became less practical to climb trees, less desirable to play with snakes. And that sense of fun and joy and the excitement of discovery didn’t come quite so easily.
I see a bit of a parallel in my Christian life. When I was young in my faith, discovering the immensity of God’s love and the endlessness of His passion for me was thrilling. I’d never encountered a love so genuine, so undeserved by me and yet so freely given. Talking about Him to others was natural. I felt compelled to tell of how I’d been forgiven, not based on anything I had ever done or could ever do. Such grace was more wonderful than I could imagine.
And somewhere along the line I began playing it safe. I didn’t talk so freely about my loving Savior; I didn’t feel as compelled to share His truth. I began to care too much about what others thought about me. The joy of the relationship seemed to lessen with my unnecessary focus on temporal matters.
But God has never lost His passion for me. He has never lost the joy in meeting with me, in hearing my prayers, in loving my broken and messy heart. He sees past what is to what He is making me.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
I don’t want to play it safe with Jesus. I want to go all out, all the time with my eyes wide open. For Him. With Him. In Him. Because He goes all out for me.
Even if it means getting my hands dirty.