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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Much Ado about Nothing (not about the play) (07/28/11)

TITLE: Lesser Things
By jody mcnatt


We were crossing out to the ocean, my little one and me. It was our first day at the beach, and the sea would be wild and wonderful and completely brand new for him. This young mother couldn’t wait to carry small son to a place filled with her favorites. She couldn’t wait to show him the width of water and the expanse of shore. She couldn’t wait for him to put toes in sand and squeal in air and joy in heart. It was all just ahead of them, up the stairs and across the boardwalk. And we were almost there, when toddler boy in blue fish bathing suit stopped at a small puddle. Stopped and stood and plopped. Right there in puddle, pleased and asking me, “water, mama? beach?” I laughed out loud at my funny son sitting on the edge of last night’s leftover rain. Little boy ready to pull out his truck and his shovel, ready to play big in something so small. “No, silly boy, that is not the beach, only a puddle.” And I took hold of his tiny hand, wanting to press on to grand ocean. But my son was not ready to leave this place behind in search of something better. He felt it might be enough. He imagined it could be the answer to our packed bags and our morning preparations. He was happy to make much of this nothing. This puddle. This lesser thing.

That little boy hasn’t worn a blue fish bathing suit in quite some time now, and he no longer sits in puddles. But, oh how I relate to my small son in his small puddle. I am struck with how often I, too, accept puddles in place of oceans. How often I take the lesser things of life thinking they are enough - even everything. My memory is strewn with settling moments. Times when I grasped at the earthly stuff of now, forgetting to look bigger, to look beyond the boardwalk. “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2). I desire the above-things and yet, so often pause at puddles and plop down in their smallness. I accept the tiny tidbits and leftovers of life instead of the grand treasure God has in store, already waiting.

Many days I feel just like an Israelite. I understand their wringing hands and wandering feet as they waited for Moses to come down off the mountain. I kind of get their panic and impatience. If I was walking in their dusty sandals, would I remember God’s goodness and grandeur in the pressing heat of present desert, of the right now? I am sure I could easily have been a woman willing to throw in her gold bangles and silver hoops to the creation of calf. Golden, golden worthless calf. I’m afraid I’d probably be right there with them dancing and wishing and hoping in something low. A lesser thing. Trying to make much from something small, something base. Moses was up on the mountain meeting with the very glory of God. He was in the presence of pure Holiness, and yet the short-sighted Israelites, who couldn’t look up, threw their trinkets into a black pot and called it good, and hoped it great. But it wasn’t. It couldn’t be. They stirred and whirled and crossed their fingers in desperate hope because they had forgotten how big their God truly was. Instead, they traded Him in and made much ado about nothing more than a puddle of melted bracelets turned calf. “They had forgot what He had done, the wonders He had shown them.” (Psalm 78:11). We settle for puddles and baby cows because we are forgetters.

This summer, I walked our fifth toddler down to the ocean’s edge. Our daughter, recently adopted from China, took her first trip to the beach. Mother just as eager to show her. This little girl, abandoned at birth because of a sick heart, is evidence of God’s miraculous ways. Rescued. Healed. Restored. Now home at last. She is just as tiny as that boy in the blue fish bathing suit and she, too, is prone to stop at puddles. But this older mother has seen God’s glory and grandeur, and she doesn’t want to forget it is everything.

And so mother takes hold of small hand and whispers in her ear a message for them both, “Let’s keep going, Bella. There is a grand ocean waiting.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/04/11
I like how you shared a snapshot of your life.

Be careful about switching from first person to third. I've done that when I'm telling a true story with a fictional name. But going from I to she will confuse your reader.

I thought it was absolutely precious that the son thought a puddle was the ocean. You had a nice message.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/19/11
Congratulations for ranking 6th in level one.(Check out the highest ratings on the message boards under Main heading The Challenge and thread Highest rankings)