Recently I asked the Lord for a closer relationship with Him and, as a special favor, perhaps some new wisdom. I have found Him to have a sense of humor, as He has kept company with me through my grandchildren. Also, He taught me a few lessons along the way.
Taking a break from the swimming pool on a warm summer day, my two grandsons got Vernor’s ginger ale from the fridge and sat down in chairs on the deck to play a game of Monopoly. The oldest grandson, almost ten, was proud and possessive of the deluxe Monopoly game he had gotten for Christmas, as he set it up with meticulous care on the table in front of us. The breeze was blowing a bit, frustrating him when some of the paper bills fluttered out of place. He was furious, though, when his younger brother grabbed the floating bills and placed them either upside down or in the wrong slot of the money rack. That Hunter, the seven-year old, wanted to be Banker was entirely out of the question. The game belonged to Childers; he was the oldest and every piece of the Monopoly set was to be kept in order and in perfect condition – not a responsibility worthy of a seven-year-old, evidently. The bright afternoon started to get cloudy.
The picturesque game on the deck with my grandsons required calming, consoling, and finally conciliatory action. I would be the Banker, keep all the money straight, and yes, each boy could have a Popsicle. As they glared at each other, licking and slurping their frozen sugar, I thanked God for whoever had invented Popsicles. Surely she was a Mom of the past who knew how to bring just a few moments of peace to summer vacations.
For awhile, the game progressed without incident, each boy moving their metal pieces around the board, passing GO!, collecting two hundred dollars, and buying up property as fast as I could collect their bills and dole out change. Childers, who named himself proprietor of the property, kept the cards neatly in color coded order and watched me like a hawk to be sure I, too, kept my bank straight. Hunter, meanwhile, with orange goo smeared down his chin, eyed the pool. The game was losing his interest fast and the tension spiking from his older brother was painful. Soon, either the game or a boy was going to end up in the water. We needed a diversion; another Popsicle was not an option. I prayed silently for wisdom and a solution.
When I accidentally dropped my newly acquired, “Atlantic Place” card on the floor of the deck, I could feel the air around us being sucked in. As the card flipped over on the floor, then slipped down through the plank and under the deck, all three of us froze. This was not the diversion I had been looking for.
“Oh no. Oh no!” Childers whispered hoarsely. He looked at me in shock, the freckles on his face, usually a sweet blur of amber, became blotches of red on his whitened skin. If I had been his brother, he would have attacked me. As his grandmother, I hoped I was safe from assault. But the panic and heartbreak I saw in my grandson’s face over the lost card, was worse than any beating I could have received.
Atlantic Place, lying in the dark dank ground beneath the deck, was beyond our reach. I prayed for wisdom, thinking, “I know how that card feels.”
“There’s a door!” (With Jesus, there is always a Door!) I assured Childers, whose eyes were swimming in tears. “There is a door to climb through to get beneath the deck so the card can be found!” I tried to sound confident as visions of mud, spiders, roaches, and maybe a rat or two under the deck made me shudder. What if he asked me to go under there and find the card?
“We’ll never find it under there. It’s too dark.” Childers’ voice was hollow.
Hunter’s face lit up bright, “I know! We’ll use a flashlight! Somebody can go under there with a flashlight and find it. It’s not lost forever!”
The seven-year olds wisdom spoke to the depths of my soul. Unless buried, anything can be found with the right light, even a city under a deck, or those who feel they, too, are lost.
This story with its simple plot became a profound epiphany for me as the week progressed. It was a difficult week with the loss of our beloved dog, my sporadic back spasms kicking up again, and a general, too familiar, malaise setting over me like a woolen shawl. I had been praying for a better mood, a little energy, and basically for Jesus to take over. Like the card under the deck, I felt lost in the pit I had fallen into.
When I remembered the Atlantic Place card in the dirt and how the bright light from the flashlight would lead us to it, I realized there was also a light shining on me – the Light of the world. I wasn’t lost, I am always found, because that bright, glorious Light is within me. I could loll around in the muck all I wanted to, but as soon as I chose to tap into Christ, I would rise and flourish in the life given to me by God.
Since then, I have had a sense of a new “on” switch stuck to my heart with a holy ability to feel glorious light coming from it. In spite of grief, pain, and fatigue, the Light of Christ is eternally switched on. Not only could I see my way through some dark days, but I also knew His Light was shining outward. Once again, God had poured His grace over me and His Light lifted me into His Presence.
Moral: When playing games with grandchildren, be sure to carry a flashlight.
Truth: “Let your light shine before men [and grandchildren] in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)