This past Sunday God gave me a gift. The gift of looking at the world through the eyes of a child. And it reframed everything I saw. Let me explain…
Elizabeth (age 3) is in a snuggling phase of her life. Where she wants her daddy to sit or lay on the couch with her and snuggle. It’s awesome, by the way. 🙂 So last Sunday after church (and after my nap) I turned on the 4th quarter of the Lions vs. Bills and begin to watch a game I have seen so many times before. Where the Lions jump out to a commanding lead only to completely unravel in the 4th quarter.
Even though that script played itself out once again on the TV screen this past Sunday, this time what I saw was different.
Because of Elizabeth.
After her rest time up in her bedroom, she came downstairs and announced that she wanted some snuggle time. So we began watching the game together, snuggled up under a blanket.
As a 3-year-old she doesn’t grasp the rules of football or even which team on the screen is the home team!
But she was able to grasp one thing: the big lion.
As we began watching the game together, Elizabeth suddenly became excited and her excitement centered on something she called “the big lion.” At first I had no idea what she was talking about until I realized what she was looking at: the oversized Detroit Lions logo on the 50-yard line of Ford Field. You can only see that logo when the action of the game is at midfield, but every time the cameraman panned over it, she made sure I knew the big lion was on the screen.
Fast forward to the end of the game. With around a minute remaining on the clock, the Lions have a chance to break the 14-14 tie with a 50-yard field goal. But our guy botched the kick. Wide left. But Elizabeth didn’t care because all she was focusing on was the big lion on the screen.
Then on the very next drive, the Bills marched down the field and their kicker lined up for a 58-yard field goal. As I was focusing on that kick (and feeling my heart begin to race a bit), once again Elizabeth was elated because the ball was placed on the big lion. As he kicked the ball straight through the uprights and the Bills won the game, the Lions fans’ hearts got collectively ripped out of their chests. But one 3-year-old fan sitting on a couch at a home in Shelby Township didn’t share their emotions because she got to see the big lion on the screen a whole bunch during those two field goal attempts. 🙂
And my heart also wasn’t getting ripped out of my chest that afternoon. Not because I’m not a fan but because I was enjoying watching Elizabeth find joy in something as simple as a sports team’s logo on the 50-yard line.
As I have been reflecting on what happened on the couch in our family room that day, a few theological thoughts came to mind. Which have both blessed and challenged me. And I hope they do the same for you. Here they are:
- The big lion was always present on the football field. But as a person watching the game on TV, I couldn’t always see it. I wasn’t always aware of it. (And even when it was on the screen, I never noticed it until Elizabeth pointed it out to me). What does that have to do with Jesus? Everything. 🙂 One of the names of Jesus is “the Lion of Judah” (Revelation 5:5). Sometimes we are aware the Lion is with us. And sometimes we can’t see Him… but He’s still there. And sometimes the Lion right in front of our faces but we aren’t able to see Him for whatever reason, so we need others — including, and maybe especially, children — to point the Lion out to us.
- When the game was going south for our beloved Lions, Elizabeth didn’t care because she was focused on the big lion on the 50-yard line which, interestingly enough, was in full view both during our botched field goal as well as their game-winning one. What would our lives be like if we did the same thing theologically that Elizabeth was doing? After all the writer of Hebrews encourages us to fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). What if we took our eyes off of our present circumstances and refocused what we were looking at, fixing them on Jesus instead? How would doing that reframe what you are feeling and experiencing in the midst of the storms of life?
- If I allowed myself to get caught up in the game, I could have easily forgotten about my third-born child. Or shooed her into the other room when the action on the screen got intense. Thankfully I didn’t lose my focus on what matters way more in my life — my daughter — as opposed to one of several hundred football games I’ll watch in my lifetime. I didn’t make that mistake on Sunday. May I not make that mistake today.
Thank you God for prompting Elizabeth to want to snuggle with her daddy this past Sunday afternoon. And thank you God for giving me the gift of seeing the game — and the world — through the eyes of a child.
***People love new things and we are doing a “new thing” at our church this Sunday. Launching an all-new series titled The Power of Peace. Peace is something we often read right past in the Bible. But it could be the key to everything. What would it be like to truly experience the peace of God — the peace that surpasses understanding — in our lives? October 12. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***