About a year-and-a-half ago I met Grace – a spunky, joyful, 7-year-old girl with a love for Jesus, her daddy, and life – in that order. We were both attending camp in a new place with new people. At our first meeting with all the new faces, Grace hid behind her daddy’s legs. I hid behind an extroverted alter ego I’d packed for moments like this. Meeting new people can be hard – no matter how old you are.
My good friend, Heather, came to camp with me. Heather makes friends with ease. She walks around with love on her face, her sleeve, her fingers. She’s like a sappy sugar maple tree. If you hang around her, you can’t avoid getting love all over you. Grace got stuck to her pretty quickly and, since I was already stuck to Heather, well …. we became one big, sappy mess that week.
We played games and painted pictures.
We created stories and produced movies.
We danced crazy dances to crazy songs and hiked beautiful trails in beautiful woods.
God’s Grace was the perfect embodiment of God’s grace at a time when I was having trouble recognizing it. I felt it more sitting cross-legged in the gravel, building a home for the Acorn family, then I did in the Scripture. I felt it more in a child’s persistent pleas to play together then I did in my prayers.
It wasn’t a substitution for God’s grace. It was the real deal – a loving, intentional gift from a Father who loved me enough to meet me where I was and to speak to me in ways I could hear. A God who sits cross-legged in the gravel with me because He wants to be with me. A Creator who displays beauty all around me to show His affections for me. A Parent, coming as a child, so I won’t miss out on the life-giving blessings of play and laughter and rest.
Grace taught me a lot that week – simply by being her awesome, energetic, uninhibited self. (Lord – please, please never let her lose that precious spirit. And please, please help us adults find ours again!)
We never know how God will reveal Himself but I promise you this – He is actively working to get your attention. God’s too crazy about us to leave us alone. He’s too faithful to give up trying. He’s too extravagant in love to play it safe. God might even ambush you at camp in the form of a 50-pounds-when-wet, blond-headed little girl missing her two front teeth. And you’ll be forever grateful.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Psalm 139:1–5 (NRSV)