Anyone who has attempted a special outing with very young children knows that great results are not guaranteed. Even with careful planning, major effort, and lots of enthusiasm from mom, things can go awry. A wise mother plans and hopes for the best, yet is ready for anything.
Such was the case yesterday when my friend Leslie and I took our four preschool children for a short hike in a state park. I have attempted enough “fun” days out with little ones to know that they don’t always go as planned. Still, I had high hopes for this day. I had envisioned the children walking through the woods, eyes wide as they took in the wonders of nature. I could see them curiously inspecting mushrooms and bugs or collecting acorns and leaves. In my mind I could see us pausing to talk about God’s wisdom in making so many beautiful things.
We arrived at the park fully prepared with band-aids, water bottles, and snacks. The children were coated in sunscreen and bug spray, their shoes double-knotted.
“Okay everybody,” cheered Leslie and I, “let’s go for a hike!”
All was well for about 20 seconds. Then Cassidy asked a question. “Mommy, what is that yellow spot on that tree for?”
I was thrilled to see her inquisitive little mind already hard at work! “There are yellow spots painted on trees all along the path,” I explained. “They tell us that we are going the right way. Maybe you can help me find the next one.”
“I can find it,” hollered Jared, racing ahead.
“I’ll find it first!” challenged Lauren, following after.
Cassidy howled in anguish. “I wanted to find it!”
Leslie and I tried to assure the children that we could all have fun looking for the yellow spots, but to no avail. The leisurely hike became a race to find spots. With each new sighting, a fight ensued over who had seen it first and more tears shed from those who did not. I tried desperately to refocus the children on the lovely surroundings only to be rebuffed with shouts of, “We’re looking for yellow spots!”
All too soon, we reached the end of the trail and I sighed, realizing that the children never saw any of the beauty I had set out to explore with them. They had zipped right by all of the rocky cliffs, wildflowers, pinecones and birds, seeing nothing but yellow spots! They completely missed the point.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus faced a similar problem as he taught His disciples and the multitudes. He continually sought to teach them spiritual truths, but oftentimes his listeners couldn’t see past the physical/temporal realm to grasp His teachings. After the feeding of the 5,000 for example, Jesus spoke to the multitudes, saying, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger.” He wanted much more for them than full bellies. He wanted to satisfy their spiritual hunger, but many of the people couldn’t see anything but loaves of bread. What the people failed to understand was that God gave us bread to sustain life, but the point of living isn’t to eat bread anymore than the point of a hike is to look at yellow painted spots on trees. This is reinforced by Romans 14:17, which states, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” That is the point that so many have missed through the ages.
Today, your heavenly Father has a spectacular adventure planned for you, His child. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” He doesn’t want us to merely make it through this hike we call life. What our Father wants for us is abundant life!
Are you focusing on the wonders He wants to show you, or have you been distracted by some yellow spots? Colossians 3:2 tells us, “set your mind on things above, not on the things of the earth.” Our lives are so very short. Let us open our eyes to the spiritual journey on which God is taking us, lest we reach the end of the path and find we missed the point.