GRANDMA’S LIVING ROOM was large and dark. She kept the shades down so her furniture wouldn’t fade. And one day, when I was five years old, I sat on her living room floor playing with my toy cars. I had at least a hundred: cars, fire-engines, buses, tractors, everything – even a hearse!
For me, playing cars was serious business. It took at least two hours at a time. I placed my toybox in the middle of the floor. Then I took each car out of the box, one by one, and began forming them into a circle. I was very careful. No two fire-engines could be together. No two cars the same colour. It was tedious work, but I was a determined kid.
When the circle was complete, I sat in the middle and admired my handiwork. And since Grandma never used the living room, my circle remained intact for days. I returned time and time again to make minor adjustments: the red pickup looks better behind the dump-truck … the jeep seems a little out of line … and so forth.
One morning, I was sitting in the middle of my circle. Peace and contentment bathed my five-year-old face as I surveyed my almost perfect toy kingdom. BUT THEN CAME SUSAN …
Susan was a three-year-old. And she was a live-wire. Susan took one look at my toys and charged, kicking and throwing my cars all over the room. She was laughing and squealing – I was crying and screaming – and Grandma dashed in to see who was being murdered.
She told me later that I cried for two hours, and she had to rock me to sleep that night. How can you sleep when your world has been destroyed?
Next morning I went in to survey the damage. My cars were scattered everywhere, and I began the slow, painful process of rebuilding. But when Grandma told me Susan was coming over again, I gave up in despair.
Then Susan arrived – and she suggested we take the cars OUTSIDE. What an idea! I hadn’t thought of that. But what if they get dirty? What if one of my precious toys gets lost or broken? It wasn’t my idea of playing cars, but I gave in. I decided to risk it. No use trying to build a circle with Susan around.
Well, we played outside all day. We put real dirt in the dump-truck. We shoved the cars across the front porch as hard as we could. We made ramps and forts and tunnels. I even let Susan talk me into crashing cars together!
I had no idea playing cars could be so much fun …
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since that day. I’ve heard thousands of sermons, sat through countless lectures, got a degree in theology … But I reckon Susan taught me all I really need to know:
Faith is the freedom to leave the dark musty living room and risk what we love most in the great outdoors!