Church on Sunday was about the treasure. It seems like such a juvenile metaphor when I think about finding a treasure in a field, or the pearl. The whimsy, the luck, the certainty…all seem somewhat mythical. But our pastor encouraged us to notice in the parables–the cost, whatever it was, was worth it–and that was not just storytelling; that was the point. Cost was mentioned, but not detailed; there was no long calculation, so obvious is the value of the treasure, or the pearl. So obvious is the choice, the pivot. She beckoned us, if perhaps we had been filled with the weight of the cost, of the selling of things or the risky moments that these parables barely accounted but did include–if those had dominated our narrative, to ask for help zooming out. To remember the arc of treasure, of finding something worth it.
During a time of prayer I saw myself in our playroom. It’s a large closet of sorts with shelves, off of the living room, about the size of a full bed. Puzzles, games, batteries, art supplies, trains, cars, Duplos, costumes and Transformers vie for space. It is the nightmare of pre-children me. Our oldest has grown up on its floor, spending hours pouring over train tracks, and now Legos. Still at 8, if we have too much planned on the weekend, he complains, “I haven’t had enough home time.” And home is that floor.
In the picture from the time of prayer, I was standing in the middle of that small room, surrounded by chaos. Loose game pieces, every genre of toy, scattered–no space, no order, just a mess. The word was disaster; it seemed disastrous. I felt helpless; did I do this? And I felt overwhelmed; where do I start?
Later I returned to that picture that I had during church. After the kids were in bed, I found some quiet instead of a remote. I returned to the scene of the playroom–the scene that seemed anything but playful and all too familiar.
I asked God, can you speak to me in this, Lord? Where are you in this mess? Am I responsible; do I just start picking it up dice by plastic bug by Lego arm? And how did I make such a mess. As I stood in the playroom, feeling the weight of the pieces, possible guilt, and depression, I asked these things.
I was surprised by suddenly envisioning Jesus. I don’t often see Him in my prayers; I don’t often have pictures or imagine things like this. But the playroom led me in prayer, and in prayer I found a surprise… even a treasure.
He surprised me because he was quietly moving on the ground at my feet. He was kneeling, not bowing, but crawling. Low, on all fours, gathering, working. Crawling around like I have done for hours, picking up pieces, sorting. I was shocked at the picture, still standing–almost confused. I had no words for this willingness, this presence and solution to the disaster that I did not expect. I silently noticed he was not angry, not worried about blame or feeling resentful as I have been while in the same posture; he was just focusing and calm.
I was ready to hear from God about what I should do about the disaster, or what I had done to get me there. I was ready to visualize the tackling of it. But I cry to think of this Jesus that I met instead–the one in the playroom who would put away the pieces where they needed to go. Uncoaxed. Content. I cry to think of this washing of my feet, in my world. I knew I needed to return to the scene I thought of in church; I didn’t know I’d be given such a picture of God as Mother, Jesus as Redeemer–creating space, repairing and restoring a distressing environment. A helper at my feet; a near and loving savior.
I went to John 13:1-20, when Christ washes his disciples’ feet, and it said he would love them till the end. He simultaneously insisted on who he was–Teacher and Lord–and dismissed behavior that protects the hierarchy. He was explicit: follow my example. It was his idea to help. And no one is too good. No one is too bad. What an assertive service and a knowing humility. What a story of a man of power and character. Like so many teachers and mothers literally do on the daily, he knelt–automatically, lovingly, over and over–bending and giving company. We imitate his foot washing in the daily kneeling.
I wanted to share this unique story with you because many of us are surveying the pieces. And painfully, there may be the most debris in places that were intended for good, for safety, for enjoyment. For what it’s worth, in the midst of my mess, I witness a Jesus that still bends and washes feet. I was reminded of a man and God that did not operate by pride and vanity and was not asked and did not hold against. I felt like there was help, and that however I resembled that humble position, I too had purpose.
Perhaps these reminders could help you too. Perhaps they may push out the scope of the present costs and get you closer to the hope of the treasure and the help in the meantime.