Are You Going to Show Up Tomorrow?

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By Amy Young | Twitter: @amyinbj

Create-Amy_800What’s your name?” I asked the six-year-old bundle of energy, aka my partner for the morning. We were on an outing to the Museum of Nature and Science and most of the elementary school kids had been partnered two of them to one of the high school volunteers.

All but my partner. He’d been sent to the back of the line several times prior to our acquaintance. I thought I’d heard his name, but it was unusual and I wanted to be sure.

“Jesus.”

Jesus. Not Je-sus as in Spanish.

Jesus.

Curious I followed up, “What’s your middle name?”

“Lamb.”

Of course.

“What’s your last name?” The trinity of questions, I know.

“Don’t have one.”

How did I not see that one coming? I was going to spend my morning with Jesus. Jesus Lamb to be exact.

Jesus had an older brother and sister. He didn’t like football, baseball, or basketball. He did, however, like fighting. Seemed oddly fitting.

Standing in line waiting for all of the kids to go to the bathroom, I put my arms around him and held his small black hands in mine and boxed the air. He noticed I had several plastic bands around my wrist and wanted one. We’d been warned that the kids would repeatedly ask for things—like using our cell phones—and it was OK (recommended, truth be told,) to tell them no.

“Look, I’ll make you a deal. I’ve got a stop watch and for every 20 minutes we make it having a good time, I’ll give you one.” We shook on it. Beep—the time started.

The herd was set free on the first floor for 40 minutes, at which time we’d meet up and transition to the second floor.

My morning walked the fine line between holy and irreverent.

“Jesus, your planet lasted the longest.” Said at a solar system interactive display.

“You waited your turn really well, Jesus.”

Oh my word, I hear myself. Seriously?

I wondered what others thought as we hustled past them. “Jesus, we’ve been down this hall, let’s go this way.”

We practiced counting at the dioramas: “How many foxes, Jesus?”

One, two, three, four, five … six! “Same number of foxes as your age!”

At the beaver display we looked at the pelts and several rusty traps. “That’s sad,” Jesus said. Can this really be happening? Jesus looked with compassion on the beavers?

When he remembered to ask the time, my stop watch read an hour and 35 minutes. Joy radiated as he’d earned all four.

It hit me during the morning that I was Jesus to Jesus, and Jesus was Jesus to me. Talk about head spinning and heart humbling paradox when it comes to the body of Christ.

Back at the home base, we ate at different tables and the afternoon was filled with playing in the park and a summer birthday party, complete with stations. Jesus and I bumped into one another several times as we held hands crossing the street or when I played Legos with the boys.

One of their routines is to end each day with a gratitude circle. Each kid and volunteer says something they are grateful for from the day. I sat between Jesus and Jeremiah (I know, I know) and at one point Jesus leaned against me and asked, “Are you going to show up tomorrow?”

Holy ground can look like dirty carpet.

Jesus asked me if I was going to show up. He didn’t ask me what value I assigned to playing Legos in a church basement. I’ll be honest, I found it a bit jarring earlier in the afternoon how much and how little a life can change. Was it really less than a month ago I was the Member Care Director for a company in China? Doing important things in a far more interesting place? Here I was playing Legos in a basement with children.

And to press the value question further, I was by far the oldest volunteer. In fact, other than the high schoolers, all of the adults were in their mid-20s. Have I really returned to where I started? I did this sort of work 20 to 25 years ago. My thoughts dripped with questions of value. Was this valuable in my 20s, but a bit pathetic in my 40s?

“Amy, are you going to show up tomorrow?” Innocently asked, but like the fighter Jesus is, it was a knockout blow.

Another Jesus said, “When you do it for the least of these, you do it for me.”

Am I willing to show up and allow the value of an act to be assigned? When Jesus said, “Let those who have eyes to see, let them see,” he wasn’t just talking to them out there. He used a little mirror of Himself to open mine and show me that I still have a ways to go on understanding value. And role and significance.

But those “big” questions/issues can be calmed in similar fashion to Jesus calming the storm. This simple question can be a soul balm: Are you going to show up tomorrow?

Yes. It might not all go well or be pretty, and I might not be as patient as I want, or doing something “sexy,” but I will show up.

___________________

Amy YoungAmy Young is readjusting to the messy middle of life in the US after more than 20 years in China. The distance didn’t impede her passion for the Denver Broncos or the Kansas Jayhawks but she is looking forward to cheering them during the daylight hours without have to get up freakishly early Monday mornings. She blogs regularly at messymiddle.com and tweets as @amyinbj.

 

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