"Our children's hearts long to be a part of a great cause. Training our children for ministry is at the center of everything we are attempting to do in their lives. Serving God is not about knowing all the right rules and keeping them; it is about cultivating compassion in the hearts of our children for a lost world and showing them how they can practically be a part of His plans to reach the world." -The Mom Walk
This year, my 25 year old son, Nathan, got married, had his first feature film picked up, and just finished shooting a Sci-Fi film adventure in Canada! Living in Hollywood, his heart has been drawn to bring light to LA, the place where many of the messages of our world are crafted and promoted. Today, Nathan is sharing some of his thoughts about how God created us for an amazing, imaginative journey. Enjoy reading his message below!
Growing up, I would often hear a couple of titles constantly ascribed to me; things like “out of the box” and “imaginative” (most likely synonyms for “a handful”). But what they ultimately meant was, I had a curiosity for life, and a wonder that reached beyond the mundane of the every day. Very little interested me more than stories, which naturally lent itself to me spending hours inside my own mind wandering the fantastic lands I would hear of in books, fighting the battles I would see in movies, and taking on the image of leading a life within a story of epic proportions. The books, films and games I would find myself caught up in, each told a story of a place more beautiful, epic, and grandiose than my reality in the moment. Filled with thought, beauty and whimsy, they invited me into the magical tales they were weaving in my heart.
So now fast-forward fifteen years as my newly found adventure-partner (wife), and I, climb into our ship (car) and head to something magical called Wonder-con. I had always wanted to go, but had never been able to for various reasons such as time, money, schedule, and other such limitations. As we landed in the land of Wonder-con (Orange County) and began to walk into the Wonder-con stronghold (convention center), I could feel the boy within me begin to fill with the magical excitement of entering a beautiful and epic story.
Wonder-Con is a convention held every year where thousands upon thousands of fantasy, sci-fi, superhero and all-around story lovers- convene to hear, see, taste, and touch the newest and most beautiful stories being told.
It is a place where you can walk booth to booth, doing things like picking up swords, previewing a new video-game, and my favorite, seeing up-close the beautiful works of original art and meeting the artists who brought them to life.
All of this, not to mention getting to witness the countless heroes passing by (people who dress up as their favorite characters) dressed in their handmade, intricate and beautiful costumes. How intriguing to walk by a Storm Trooper, Aragorn, a Transformer, or even Superman as we walked through the hall. It’s a place where people have discovered and loosed the gift of their imagination upon the world. A place where people have realized the power of story and let its beauty effect, transform and invite us into a world beyond ours.
So naturally, as I walked past the miles of food-trucks closer to the convention center, my anticipation only rose. That was until we came upon the doors to the convention center. It was there I saw something that squelched my excitement.
There, in front of us and the thousands of excited story-lovers, were a group of men and women dressed in khaki slacks, tucked in white shirts, a countenance of mild disdain on their face, and large black and yellow signs in their hands that read “Sin brings God’s wrath” and “After death, the judgement” and the one that caused my heart to sink the most “Repent! and believe in Jesus.”
Now at this point you might ask what it was that made me so upset upon seeing these devout followers. After all I love Jesus with my whole heart, and I do think we (all) should repent and believe in Jesus. But it was less the words on the signs that bothered me, and more the context and way they were being thrown at people.
Hear me out… Here you have thousands of people, each person loves story, art, beauty, and imagination. All at the same place to give to and draw from the beautiful energy that each of these aspects can bring. And as they walk into something so beautiful, they are immediately confronted words representing Jesus, in a, guilt producing, fear inducing, people separating, coldly uniform way, and ultimately ugly way.
I don’t know about you, but this deeply bothered me. It bothered me because the “truth” they were espousing about my Jesus was the opposite of the message he gave his life to tell.
The Jesus I know is the teller of stories and the dreamer of dreams. He is the Jesus that told us of a beautiful land for which we were destined and that should we follow Him to that Kingdom. This land left John desperate for words beautiful enough to describe this place after seeing only a glimpse of it.
"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river,the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever."
The Jesus I know, is the artist who, every night paints the sky with the very colors He imagined into life. He is the Jesus that hand crafted all of nature with it’s intricate beauty in flowers, trees, animals, mountains, crystals, eyes, storms, water, and all living things.
The Jesus I know, is the master story-teller who invites us into a new narrative of life, adventure and overcoming. He is the Jesus that’s helps us and gives us the chance to tell a more beautiful story than we ever could on our own.
So when I saw those people there, standing back to the the convention, yelling, judging and condemning… My heart sank because I so desperately wanted everyone there, to know the Jesus I know.
I couldn’t help but see of the irony of a group so desperately trying to get the most creative people in the world to respond to Jesus, in perhaps the most uncreative way possible.
But it got me thinking… What would happen if: When we begin talking to the people who best love stories, beauty and imagination… We, instead of communicating fear and guilt, we start introducing them to the author, artist, and dreamer, of story, beauty and imagination? I don’t know, but I would be willing to guess, that maybe, just maybe some of these story/art/beauty lovers might actually want to know the creator of story/art/beauty.
So, today if you do know God, and want to share him with the world, perhaps start by showing the beauty of the God we follow.
And if you DON’T know Jesus, know this: God is the original storyteller, master artist, and the one who perfectly designed you with the desire to share in his pleasure. And he wants YOU- NO MATTER who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done to join in the story of EPIC proportions He is telling.
***If you have the desire to go deeper in your quiet time today, take a moment to complete the reflection and application below:
-How can you inspire greater purpose in the hearts of your children today? Remind your children that they are a part of God's grand adventure. -What could you do today to ignite creativity and imagination in the minds of your family? -Stories are powerful. Read heroic, epic stories to your children...stories of heroes, beauty, and big dreams.