Monday, May 28, 2012

The Tower and the Glory

Many times I've heard the C.S. Lewis quote from his sermon "The Weight of Glory" likening most Christians to "an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea." It's a defense of what's called Christian Hedonism--the principle of finding our supreme pleasure or satisfaction in glorifying God. As Lewis explains in the same quote, "We are far too easily pleased." Over the years I've thought about this quote many times, always nodding my spiritual head--partly in the Wheaton College graduate's iron-clad conviction that anything Lewis wrote should probably be included in the Canon, but also in the belief that we should indeed take more pleasure in God's gifts and pursue all the wonderful things he has for us. 

But today something happened that for a moment gave me a quite different perspective on that quote, and for the first time made me see it in reverse.

It being Memorial Day, our lovely friends Dave and Julia had invited us to a pool party and barbecue at Julia's mom's house. I'm just going to say it: this place was FAB-U-LOUS. There was $36 lotion in the bathroom. That right there put me out of my league. Not to mention the house itself: the approximate square footage of a Cheesecake Factory, vaulted ceilings, solid wood doors, the works. Beautiful. The backyard was its own garden of earthly delights with an expanse of lush grass, tons of outdoor dining space, and a pool/spa/waterfall setup. After we spent about an hour swimming, our family got out of the pool to get some snacks. As Anthony tended to our boys, I set up camp with Christine, our one-year-old, under an umbrella on the cool deck. I poured myself a Diet Coke and decided to let her do her thing for a little while. For Christine, "doing her thing" means wandering around exploring things at her eye level, then attempting to stuff whatever she has seen into her mouth. So, whatever. I can roll with that if I keep in close range. I watched her observe her little version of the world for a few minutes, and then she plopped down where the cool deck met some gravel and began picking up little rocks one by one, trying to build a tiny tower.

Just then the C.S. Lewis quote flashed through my mind, and I thought how Christine is like that child, wanting only to play with baby-palm-sized rocks while all this fabulousness of party and barbecue and pool gambols around her. My Evangelical-trained mind was soaking up this little Teaching Moment, re-cementing Lewis' tried and true sagacity, when I began to see something else in this picture. My sweet daughter is so content with the things before her, the things she does have, that she doesn't even think or care about the things beyond her, the things she doesn't have. And that is an image of satisfaction in such a different sense than Lewis was describing in "The Weight of Glory." The kind of satisfaction Christine showed me today is the kind that accepts what comes from the hand of God and enjoys whatever that may be. Her innocent satisfaction in building a tower of rocks was a reminder that taking pleasure in the smallest, simplest things can be as great a blessing as partaking in the biggest, most fabulous things. 

I love her for showing me this--how many are the ways our children point us to God, and how gracious is He to teach us through them.

p.s. Julia, invite us to your mom's house again ANY TIME. We had a blast. :)

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