it was all just ahead of us, 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, “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 chubby hand, wanting to press on to grand ocean. but my son resisted. he 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 is well on his way to grown now. he hasn’t worn a blue fish bathing suit in quite some time, and, thankfully, he no longer sits in puddles. but, oh how i relate to this small son in his small puddle years ago. 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 find myself pausing at puddles and plopping 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 have remembered 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. something less. 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 those 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 wishing because they had forgotten how big their God truly was. instead, they traded Him for 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. israelites or not.
this past summer, i walked our fifth toddler down to the ocean’s edge. bella took her first steps on the beach. i was just as eager to show her, as i was her older brother years ago. this wee girl, abandoned at birth because of a sick heart, is evidence of God’s miraculous ways, His big plan -- rescued. healed. restored. now home. 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 mother is older, seasoned, even slightly scarred. she has seen God’s glory and grandeur. she has seen His goodness in the blessing and in the hard. she has glimpsed God beyond the boardwalk. and she doesn’t want to forget it is everything.
and i take hold of small hand and whisper in small ear a message for us both, “let’s keep going, bella. there is a grand ocean waiting.”