My elementary school playground was on the corner of a very busy intersection. Like most playgrounds, it had a climbing apparatus and swings, a blacktop to play hopscotch and four square, and a kickball field all located in the center of a protective 12-foot fence. There was safety and fun in the center of the playground. Yet, there was a handful of kids who would spend the entire recess period standing next to that fence looking at what was happening on the other side! Why do we spend so much of our time at the fence line asking questions like, “How far is too far?” and “What if…”. Why don’t we turn around and ask, “What am I missing by not staying in the center of His will?”
This reminds me of an illustration a wise woman shared with me many years ago that is useful in communicating with others about many issues – salvation, purity, contentment, God’s love for me… It makes me chuckle as I think of her holding an everyday kitchen funnel as she shared with me her deep theological thoughts. I hope it might be an encouragement to you and possibly a helpful tool for you to add to your tool belt!
Imagine an everyday funnel, if you hold a funnel in your hand the wide part is normally at the top and the narrow part at the bottom. The wide part of the funnel represents the world with all of its choices, freedoms, and opportunities. By nature we like all of these things! Personally, I like the opportunity to choose what I wear, eat and do with my free time. I like the freedom to go where I want, when I want and with whom I want. The wide part of the funnel seems to provide more opportunities and freedom. Yet, the purpose of the funnel is to move objects from a large open space to a very narrow space. Similarly, when we make “worldly” choices they tend to make choices for us and lead us into tight and uncomfortable places with feelings of shame, discontentment or frustration. It is a place of few choices and often much regret.
In contrast, if you hold the funnel upside down – skinny to wide, this represents God’s plan for us in our life with Him. “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt. 7:14) Jesus was not shy in telling people of His day that the path to eternal life was narrow and yet, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…”. So, like the upside down funnel, once we choose the “narrow road” Christ desires for us to live in the freedom He died to give to us! He plops us in the center of His will and provides us with everything we need. (Mt. 6:8)
Sadly, rather than enjoying the sweet spot in the center of His plan for us, we often choose to check out the perimeter and begin to see the protective boundaries He has laid out for us as restrictions and constraints.
I recently purchased an antique metal funnel. It sits on my window sill above my kitchen sink right next to my antique metal spoon that reads, “Jesus knows me, this I love”. The combination of the two provides such a wonderful reminder to me of God’s will for my life. Because He KNOWS me, He has given me new life, He has provided freedom and choices within safe boundaries and He desires for me to live my life in the center of His will. I’m hopeful that with His help I will spend more of 2017 in the middle of the playground! I hope the same is true for you!
After doing campus ministry at Iowa State University for 13 years (not with the Navs) Micki and her husband Brett have been serving with EDGE Corps for the past 10 years. They have 2 amazing kids, Evan (22) and Eliza (19) and recently celebrated 26 years of marriage. Micki loves most any creative activity but most recently can be found spending her free time in Brett’s workshop building treasures out of reclaimed wood.