My wife and I have the great pleasure of watching our daughter, Hosanna, become more and more interactive every day. She is no longer just smiling and giggling, but waving and pointing. One of her cutest interactions is when you tell her no. She looks at you smiles and shakes her head. She may have no idea what no means but she is too busy showing you that you shake your head when you say no that she stops what she was doing. Just as my wife and I sometimes tell Hosanna no, like when she is breaking Olympic records trying to touch Iggy’s potty before we pick it up off the floor, God tells us no too.
Like Hosanna we think we know what is going one, but unlike her we don’t think this is a smiling matter. When we hear God say no, we don’t start smiling, we stop smiling. We act like St. Debbie Downer the Archangel of the fun police as just shown up to put the kibosh on happiness. But is that what is really happen when we hear a divine “no?” Is this an ordinance to restrict our joy or to draw into deeper happiness?
Before we ride this train of thought to our reading from Ezekial today, I think there is time for short stop with some words from C.S. Lewis. See I want you to approach Ezekial and my reflection with Lewis’ words ringing in your ears. Here is what he wrote in The Weight of Glory, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
I held those words in my mind as I read Ezekial. When I did, the line, “cast away from you all the crimes you have committed and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit” called a phrase to mind. We’ve all heard it, “Go big or go home.” But in this passage from Ezekial and Lewis’ words the message is not “Go big or go home,” instead it is “Go big and go home.” As disciples, when we are called up from our mud pies the slums we cannot – dare not – stuff any in our pockets in case the beach I boring. We are not called to half-hearted repentance. God wants us to leave out mud pies behind, whatever they are. Not so we can return and sulk, but that we can return and live!
And this is the role of our childlike discipleship. Watch a toddle walk down the sidewalk. They’ll pick up a rock or stick every 2 minutes and their parent will be trying so hard not hustle them along. But it isn’t just the picking up I want you to notice, the lesson lies in the laying down. Every time my son finds a better stick or a better rock, the old one just gets left behind. He doesn’t have my adult propensity to connive and strategize so I can try to keep everything I might, someday, want or desire. No, he finds something better and he let’s go of the old.
Brothers and sisters, we have been called by the face of God’s mercy, the Prince of Peace, God incarnate. We have found something far better. But unlike my son we don’t know how to put the old rocks and sticks down. We can’t imagine going to the shore without some mud in our pocket. We are far too easily pleased. We need to go big and go home.