Even If China Attacks

James runs past the front door of our church to find his coat. He sort of skids when he looks up and sees Jesus standing outside the tomb.

James slows, then stops, and pivots long enough to find the holes in the feet, and the ones at the wrists. He soaks up the image in the painting, quietly, without the help of adults. And then he’s off running again.

Sometimes it feels impossible to keep up with a three-year-old.

The next day I’m wrestling the boys on our bed. The hits are getting harder and louder. Henry takes a blow to the chin. “Daddy,” he says, “I think we should do something else now.” He grabs the children’s bible from the nightstand. Immediately, both boys snuggle up against me with warm bodies, racing hearts, and perfect faith.

Days later, I look outside my classroom window. The snow blows sideways and falls without hitting the ground. The wind carries it all away, far past the frames of these two windows. I can’t even see where this snow lands.

After school, I lock my classroom door. The hallway is quiet except for a few wrestlers running the halls. As I walk away from my door, I hear the security camera move. It always watches me from behind a black eye.

And then I go home to spend the weekend painting walls. Here, the furniture gets blown sideways, too, until the pieces form ten-foot drifts in distant rooms. I just keep my eyes on the brushstrokes and drips.

Up and down is enough movement for me.

Suddenly, it all falls apart, though. In an empty room. Without being touched, the contents of a cabinet shatter on the floor after a shelf breaks loose. Plates and dishes and two glass water pitchers. Favorite water pitchers. Loud. Like an end-of-the-world loud, but localized to a kitchen cabinet. So maybe this is where the end will begin …

Glass is everywhere.

Later, after sharing a conversation about the attachment theory of parenting young children, my wife and I turn to our three-year-old son and ask him if he feels attached. “Yes, I do.” He doesn’t seem worried at all.

We try another question. “To whom?”

“To God.”

So now as I sit here and reflect on all that is blowing sideways in my life, some of it hitting me like an elbow in the face, here is a boy who will unconsciously stop his running to gaze at Jesus.

I want to stop — and pivot like that — even if all of china attacks.

This post is being shared with Laura Boggess for …

And with Michelle DeRusha for …

28 thoughts on “Even If China Attacks

  1. Oh yes, even if china attacks! To have our eyes on Jesus even in the midst of chaos and to know without a doubt He is keeping us held together, broken, yet whole and attached! Your life is blessed with an abundance of subtle reminders because of the “perfect faith” of your children….this is truly abundance! You are truly blessed, my friend!

  2. I am thinking how, when you lock the door to your classroom, you walk out into another great big giant one. Sometimes we are the teachers here. And sometimes the students. This is one of those great learning times. So lovely, Matthew. I love hearing stories about your babies.

      • glad to hear it! when i get tired of studying (i study too much anyway…) i get on here to see if you’ve written anything new. it’s a great distraction (much better than facebook!)

      • It’s by our children attaching to us first, that allows them to attach to God later…so well done!! Really well written post!!

        • Very well said, Ann. Megan’s point is well put, too. While the “attachments” and anxieties might seem to get in the way of good parenting, our kids know our hearts. They recognize our first love. And faith tells me they will want to follow our first love, too, regardless of how we stumble and bumble about.

          Love covers a multitude of sins. So thankful I heard my Mom share those words …

  3. It is amazing what a three year old can “soak up, without any help from adults”.
    I find with my own sons that they seem to teach me so much more than I can teach them.
    I have a feeling you’d agree, although your boys are younger than mine. :)

  4. I love that you posted a pic of how a dish broke in odd scrolly patterns that no glass cutter could ever make intentionally. I’ve had a few dishes break like that, too. (not china, but corelle or glass). I’ve saved the pieces. Someday when I get enough pieces, I think I’d like to make a mobile. But of course I don’t want to, or actually do, break dishes very often. I think my own count is presently at 3 white bowls and one clear square glass lid with knob, after about oh, 8 or 10 years of collecting. In fact, I probably don’t even know where the first one is stored! (You can tell from the low number, that I don’t have kids around… )

    I hope that God enjoys odd, scrolly patterns of brokenness in us as he is mending and making us whole in Him!

    • Thanks for this comment: “he is mending and making us whole in Him.” After sweeping up all those pieces, many of them microscopic, it’s amazing to me that God would bother to put it all back together again. What love …

      (I should have saved my shards. Then you would’ve had enough to mass produce those mobiles …)

  5. I sit at my desk in Beijing looking through my picture window and also see snow falling – not blowing sideways but “dropping like a gentle rain upon the earth
    beneath”. Then I looked at the headline on this blog and hastened to read it all –
    thinking you might have learned something about China of which I had not been informed. What a relief it was to know that it was china and not China that
    attacked and the damage was confined to the cabinet’s contents! Now my heart beats are no longer accelerated. Now I can continue to enjoy again the
    gently falling snow and think of the One who wants peace on earth and goodwill
    to men – and makes possible the peace that passes understanding.

    • Sorry to get your heart racing! Thanks for sharing your comment, though, because it offers us a valuable perspective here. Yes, get back to that window. Stay in that peace. And may His peace be with you, no matter what. Always thankful to hear from you.

  6. Very clever title. I love it.

    My son can’t get enough of wrestling with is dad. He waits, eagerly, for Dad to get home from work. Then it’s wrestle time.

    What a tender picture you painted of your son stopping to gaze at Jesus. May we all do just that amidst the craziness of life’s storms.

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