By Chris Kirby
A really huge event happened in our family this past Sunday. As we drove toward church we noticed the new “fly over” bridge was open from 465 West to 65 Southbound. Our kids, especially Tatum, were pumped! The minute we got back in the van from worship service they were asking if we could go drive over the new bridge. As we drove over it for the first time, I’m going through the civil engineering aspects of the bridge. I thought the approach and exit were a little steep and curve a little too tight for a new project that will be in place for years to come. I thought it was a shame you couldn’t see over the retaining wall to get a nice view of downtown. I wondered why they didn’t replace the other insufficient bridges at the interchange while they were at it. It was a little aggravating that other drivers were going slower than I wanted to go over the new more efficient path home.
My kids didn’t think about any of those things for a second. They were just really excited. Tatum has asked every time we’ve driven through the construction zone for 6 months when the bridge would be open. Every time we drove around the little tight turn of the old exit she’d point to the new bridge and ask why they were building a new bridge and why it wasn’t open yet. And on this day, December 21, 2014, she got her wish. And it didn’t disappoint. She giggled all the way across and talked about how awesome it was to be high up in the air. She even asked why we didn’t get to drive on the old road anymore (she is a very sentimental type). And you know what she asked as soon as we came off the bridge? “Daddy, can we go across the bridge again tomorrow?” On the way home Monday, she giggled and laughed. Guess what she asked as soon as we came off? “Daddy, can we go over the bridge again tomorrow?” On the way to the church building on Tuesday morning she doubled checked that the plan for the afternoon included a trip on the new bridge. It’s incredible how much excitement a bunch of concrete and steel can bring to a 4 year old.
Isn’t it great when you think back to when you were a kid about the simple things that brought amazement and joy? Some of the things were tiny. In hindsight, many of the things don’t even make sense as to why they got us so excited. I still remember when I was 5 or 6 years old we would go to the Andrew Church of Christ and Mr. Elrod would have a peppermint waiting for me and both of my brothers. We would get so excited about that little piece of candy. Not a piece cake, not money, not a new toy, a 5 cent peppermint.
During this week of Christmas I particularly think about what this means. The “magic” of this season just makes kids float. The anticipation of what the packages hold under the tree, that one special holiday treat that mom would only bake at Christmas, waiting to see grandparents from a long way away, pressing your nose against the window hoping for even a single flake of snow to fall (a very depressing process if you grew up in the Southeast), the Christmas decorations illuminating the night, and watching the sky on Christmas Eve to see if Santa would slip up and come before you went to sleep. I still remember once when I was 17, um I mean about 7, seeing a blinking red radio tower in the distance and wondering if it just happened to be Rudolph. What an awesome time of year for amazement and awe at the simple things in life.
As I think about the amazement that children have in their approach to the world, I can’t help but recall when Jesus called His disciples to receive the Kingdom like a child (Mark 10:15) and the implications that is held within this command. I would love to have a freshness in my faith that bears amazement at the simple things the same way that kids see so many small things in their worlds. As Paul Short talked about Sunday morning, I hope that I still read the Word of God in such a way that astonishes my heart and mind while transforming who I am. I hope that when I take communion I never lose the depth of selflessness, love, and grace that comes through the sacrifice of Christ. I hope that as I sing with my family of believers, that the timeless nature of some of our old hymns recalls God’s working in my life. And that I can still learn from new songs that the Spirit’s creativity still flows through a song writer’s pen today in ways that bless both my heart and my mind. I hope that when I see God moving in powerful ways to bring light into a dark world it reminds me how He desires to bring hope to the brokenness caused by our sin. What are some of the aspects of faith that you think are easy to take for granted and lose amazement over? If we shared these things with each other, it would be quite a list! By reminding ourselves of these simple, and sometimes complex things, we can help point each other toward the awesome nature of God.
One of these days my family will travel on the fly over bridge and Tatum isn’t going to say a word about it. She’s not going to laugh and get excited. She probably won’t even notice as she is reading a book, playing with a toy, or arguing with Jack. It will be a little heart breaking. Those moments are so great as parents. Jill and I laugh about how excited she gets in her wonderment as a child. At some point you realize that even at a $40 mil price tag, it’s just concrete and steel and the result of the action is hopefully the same every time. You drive up the bridge, go around the turn, and drive down the bridge. This bridge will gradually get older. Someday, 50 years from now, there will be another family hovering over a new bridge at that same location. Hopefully there will be a new little girl giggling and laughing about that bridge. However, the awesome thing about living in the Kingdom of God is that it doesn’t get old. It doesn’t die. It won’t have to be replaced someday. If we strive to see God through fresh eyes and open hearts, we might just find ourselves living in the amazement of how awesome God is, even in the most simple of moments.