Being Trained by the Youngest Lyon

By Keith Miller | October 12, 2009

Keith, your life sounds like a real adventure story. How have you met so many interesting people and gotten them to help you? My experience vacillates between being boring and scary by comparison and people seem to resist helping me.

It’s interesting that you would say that my life sounds like “a real adventure story” because just this week Andrea and I were talking about the fact that we both think of our lives as being on an adventure as we try to learn to relate more deeply to God and to do God’s will as we can understand it. My life is sometimes scary, but it’s not boring. It could be that the reason I write about so many interesting people and experiences is that we have come to believe that everyone we meet on God’s adventure may teach us somehow about God and loving. So we pay a different level of attention to people and listen more intentionally than we used to—and people we contact everyday have become more fascinating to us. An “adventure” may begin in a very ordinary situation.

For example, about four years ago, I was helping our pastor begin a small group series at our church. At the introductory meeting each small group leader was asked to talk a little bit about their group and how the participants might grow spiritually. The group that Andrea and I were leading was titled, “Living What You Believe in Every Area of Your Life.” I briefly described that the group’s main purpose would be to learn how to walk in faith everywhere in their lives. After I spoke we broke up into several groups that had been selected by the staff ahead of time.

One young couple, David and Jessica Lyon, came up to me afterwards and asked if they could visit with us. They heard me mention a book and wanted to talk about it.

We invited them to come by after class and talk. As a result, we became friends and David and I began spending time discussing his interest in theology and the work we were doing in helping people discover and accomplish the dreams God may have planted in them. Shortly after that the woman who was our administrative assistant moved out of state, just as Jessica had decided that she was more interested in helping people the way we were trying to than following her vocational profession of being a teacher (she also has a degree in Architecture). She was looking for a way to accomplish that dream and follow God’s will for her. I told her that we needed some help, as our assistant was moving, but that she was way over-qualified for the job as our assistant. However, if she wanted to work for us for a while as she was making the transition, we’d be happy to have her with us. That was two and a half years ago and Jessica was a God-send.

Shortly after David and Jessica were married they decided to have a baby. As the time for the baby to come approached, Jessica said she was going to have to quit because they felt that it was especially important to care for the baby themselves the first several months of his life.

We agreed. But when Jessica told us she would still need to work, and after we all prayed about the situation, we invited Jessica to keep working and bring the baby with her. We have offices in our home, and her office was right next to our quiet, private guest room, which had a rocking chair in it. We borrowed a crib, and she could have a private place to feed and change the baby, and he or she could nap there. She accepted.

And so suddenly life changed for us. At 60 and 80 years old Andrea and I hadn’t been in the same house with a baby around for a long time. But since we believed this was the way we were supposed to live, we were excited when Blaine arrived at the hospital—and then appeared at our house.

We had some strange experiences during his early days. One morning, about 10:00 a.m., I was talking on the phone to someone in an Eastern city. Suddenly Blaine let out a big happy scream (that filled the entire house) followed by a sweet baby giggle and the business man on the line said, “What was that noise?”

I said, “Oh, nothing, it’s just the baby.”

“THE BABY! You’re 80 years old and you have a baby in your office?”

So I explained how Blaine had joined the team for his first season, as a free agent.

Andrea and I were writing a book at the time, the thesis of which centered around an argument Jesus’ disciples were having about who was to have the highest rank/position in God’s new Kingdom that Jesus was announcing.

Jesus was apparently horrified and disgusted that the argument was happening after all his teaching that the old order would be replaced with a whole different way of relating, doing away with the hierarchical social system they were arguing about. Jesus put a young child in the midst of them and said:

“I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in.” (Matthew 18:2, The Message)

After Blaine started crawling, whenever I walked into Jessica’s office in the morning, he would look up at me but wouldn’t come to me. As I watched him glance up from the floor and then ignore me, it hit me that this new “distance” between the baby and me might have something to do with what Jesus had been talking about. The next morning I got on my hands and knees in the hall outside Jessica’s office, and crawled into the room where he was playing on the floor.

He glanced up, surprised, and didn’t look away. Then I lay down on the floor absolutely on his level and looked at him—eye to eye—across the floor. Blaine cocked his head a second and then crawled right over to greet me.

Suddenly I had two insights: (1) My lying on the floor to connect with Blaine was a picture of what God had done for us in Jesus—gotten on our level, becoming like us to get into our world so we’d feel safe enough to hear what God wanted to tell us. And (2) that the disciples were in some way to do the same thing, to deal eye to eye with the little child within the people they invited into the kingdom. Furthermore, as a twenty-first century disciple, I am to do this also, to walk with people in terms of their real inner lives as they are experiencing them and not from some elevated position as an expert theologian, professor, or therapist. I realized that disciples are still to relate to people vulnerably, with a kind of eye-to-eye-level love that was what the Kingdom Jesus was announcing was all about.

As I went back into my office and started to thank God for that insight, I realized an even more important thing that Jesus may have been saying to me, about my relating to God. Before I could relate much as a disciple of Jesus to the child minds of people I was talking to about the Kingdom/Reign of God, I would have to relate to God as a little child relates to his daddy. And when I thought about actually addressing God with the word, “Daddy,” I almost choked on it. It didn’t seem appropriate, not ‘holy’ enough. (But the word Jesus used in the “Lord’s Prayer,” the only prayer he gave us, was “abba,” translated properly as “daddy.”)

And it was then that I saw my problem: I didn’t want to be a helpless, defenseless child when I related to God. I wanted to be like an intelligent committed young therapist or disciple talking to his older, more experienced mentor. I was ashamed to acknowledge that. But I decided that this attitude just might be the thing that had me stuck on my book project and my life at age 80, trying to relate to God.

So I imagined myself as a little child coming to his loving, all-knowing, trustworthy, safe father, and one morning I finally addressed God with the word, “Daddy.” I began to cry, to weep as I hadn’t done in a long time, because I was warmed with the sense that I was at home and safe in God’s presence as a little child would be with an all-loving father.

I’m not saying that you should do what I did, but I am telling you that by taking a young couple named Lyon seriously one morning at a meeting in our church, a new adventure started that led me to discover a deeper relationship with God. And a little over three years later, I was rescued from a stuck place on our book project—you might say “trained”—by the youngest Lyon, named Blaine. And for me, that was a real adventure that took place in our own home.

Lord, thank you that we don’t have to do big things, be famous people or go to exciting foreign places to have “important” adventures with you. Thank you that you offer to introduce us to all kinds of fascinating people to love if we, as little children, pay attention and let you reign as our Daddy from heaven. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Topics: Christian Living, Weekly Devotional | Comments Off on Being Trained by the Youngest Lyon
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