Sunday, August 19, 2012

Best Day Ever

Yesterday was a good day.  In fact, it just might have been the best day ever.  That is, unless you were to consider today, which consequently was the best day ever.  And if we happen to meet somewhere tomorrow, I will declare with certainty, "Today is the best day ever!"  Let me explain.  In order to keep two nine year old boys occupied for the afternoon, and also keep my sanity, I decided to take my youngest son Lucas, and his best buddy Braden, to Putt Putt Fun House; our local Arcade/Miniature Golf/Laser Tag/Bumper Boats/Bowling/Pizza Eating/Rock Climbing/Over-Stimulating/Sugar High Inducing....well....Fun House. It originally only offered miniature golf, back in the 80s; hence the name Putt Putt Fun House. They had go carts at one time, and it was a great place for dates in high school, but I digress.

Putt Putt is the only place in town where you can spend $10 worth of game tokens in order to proudly redeem your winnings for $1 worth of prizes and feel like a champion and millionaire, all at the same time. Yesterday was no exception. Since I only allocated them a few bucks each, both boys decided early on that it would be more efficient to combine their prize tickets in order to redeem a higher quantity and quality junk, and since they are practically inseparable these days, I agreed that it would be a safe transaction. After about 20 minutes of Las Vegas style junior gambling, they made their way to the ticket calculating machine to see how much Lady Luck had graciously bestowed upon them. Their excitement increased as they fed stacks of orange tickets into the hungry mechanical cage cashier. When they began to realize that they were going to end up with an excess of well over 2000 tickets, they high-fived each other, agreeing that sharing in the glory was much better than individual acclaim. So far, it was a pretty good day!

 As the ticket feeder produced a grand total of 2289 points with much pomp and circumstance, Lucas suddenly declared, "This is the best day of my life!" The best day of his life? Really? Have I done so badly a job as a dad that this is his best day so far? I mean, we just got back from a week long vacation, two days of which were spent at one of the biggest water parks in the country, and this is your best day? Are my son's expectations of life really that low? What will his worst day look like? Do I suck as a dad? "This is the best day of my life!" Wow! "Lucas, my son. I love you! But you really need to get a life! Please! Before you get too old and the best day of your life ends up being......"
There I was, watching my son have the best day of his life, when as always, when I let my guard down,   some deep theological truths hit me between the eyes through the simplicity of life. As always, I realize that the complexity of life does not always make us more efficient, more profitable, better or happier for that matter. When you get right down to it, contentment in life comes in the brief moments when we simply breath in and out and realize that this is all we have, all we need.  In reality, this was the best day. Through the eyes of my son, I was transported into a radically different view of life, and it was the best day of our lives. Right there. Right then. Why? Because it was the only day we had access too, right at that very moment. How could it not be the best day?

This is how kids look at life; from day to day, hour to hour, second to second. Their minds don't jump ahead at how things could be better, because they usually see what is before them as the best. They don't lament and ponder why yesterday wasn't as good, because yesterday was the best up until now. And if it wasn't the best, they've already moved on because that's just how their minds work. They see life at it's best and I think this is exactly what Jesus was getting at when He 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. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me." (Matthew 18:3-4 MSG)  According to Jesus, the best is the Kingdom of God. Kids see the best. They see the Kingdom, and through their eyes exists a doorway to God's Kingdom that comes to as close to fruition as we can get. The Kingdom of God is here. It's the best day ever.

Living in the moment is not an easy concept for us to grasp, especially as we grow older.  Our lives continue to accelerate as we tirelessly strive to find the best.  Tomorrow will always be better than today, and today does not ever seem to be quite as good as yesterday.  How often do we contently rest in the realization that the best is here and now, realizing that the moment is literally all we have.  As much as we would like to, we can't exist one second in the past or one second into the future.  We exist moment by moment.  Why are those moments not considered to be the best, regardless of circumstances?

As I reflect on the simplicity of my son's words yesterday, I'm reminded that God expects no more from us than this.  After all, He taught us to pray for our "daily bread".  Not complain about the dry bread from yesterday, or anxiously fret because we may not have bread tomorrow.  And as He stands by, watching us count up our winning tickets and redeeming them for junk, I think He simply longs to hear us declare, "This is the best day of my life!"

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