Today was fairytale, both in a literal and figurative sense. It began with a lovely train ride and a most wonderful picnic in an idyllic park. Later, dinner of perfectly cooked carrots, broccoli and chicken was elegantly served to me. Towards the end of the day I was stuffed in a packback (yes, that IS the correct word and yes, I WAS stuffed in there) and was carted off for a regal shopping spree followed by a rousing game of hide and seek. The amazing day was given to me courtesy of the imaginations of the sweetest three-year-old granddaughter in Utah while I sat at my desk in Alaska. It was a full day which encompassed all of about 15 or 20 minutes.
It was, at the same time, the sweetest and saddest of times. I am beyond grateful for the technology available to us that made my fairytale possible. My heart cannot contain my thankfulness for being able to “play” with all six of my grand-kids from thousands of miles away; to have them know me and me, them. This evening I found myself filled with sadness at the very same fairytale. Nora was squealing with delight at our adventures because she had not a care in the world. She exists in an environment of relative safety and peace with family near and far who love her and in a country which does its best to keep it that way. Many children were experiencing the exact opposite. While we lived in fantasy land, they live in a war zone; be it Ukraine, right here in small town Alaska, or any place in between. It may be an invading army, an abusive authority figure, family addictions, or some other nightmare.
The harsh reality of life calls us to live beyond ourselves and for something greater than our own satisfactions and pleasures. It is a call to live a life bigger than ourselves. It is a life that sacrifices itself for the good of others. It compels us to love our neighbor as ourself.
For the Christian, it is ultimately about living in submission to the eternal purposes of God. When Jesus came to earth, He said, “Follow Me.” To follow Jesus is not a call to being religious. It is not simply a call to be moral (though morality is involved). It was a call to follow His relationship with the Father and commit ourselves to His redemptive purposes. Jesus did not come to earth because it was a bad place that needed to be made better. He came because there is an evil, dark place of eternal suffering that awaits us when we die. He came that we might have life, an abundant life, for eternity. Jesus displayed His love and compassion on earth to display His goodness and love for the lost. He rescued the dying, healed the lame, gave sight to the blind, fed the hungry, and raised they dead as visual illustrations of spiritual realities. He loved us to display the love of God for us and so that we would trust Him. He calls us to the same eternal purposes. People live in darkness. They need to see the light.
Today was a fairytale but it doesn’t have to be just a fairytale. Living beyond ourselves for the glory of God in Christ brings hope out of despair, peace out of chaos, and life out of death; for ourselves AND others. That may seem like the ultimate fantasy, but it is the concrete, eternal reality.