Within the realm of time, January marked the beginning of a new chapter called 2016. Years are marked by holidays, seasons, and major events in life that are met with celebration or sorrow. These events give shape to the stories of families, communities, and even nations. In many ways, our identity is based on the occurrence of these events and our response to them. Though happy moments occur, as the years go by, there seems to be a general sense of “everything getting worse.”
Outside of this realm of time, “January” was full of eternal moments called the New Creation. Eternal life is marked by rescue and restoration that are met with gratitude and hope. Such dynamics create the stories of families, communities, and even nations. In every way, our identity is formed by these realities which compel our response toward others. Suffering occurs, and as His Story continues, there is an overall sense of “everything being made new.”
This year, our family continues to discover the joy of “living life out of time.” Within the realm of time, it can feel like it is hard to keep up. The busyness of our world within the realm of time robs its human beings of this joy by causing them to live life within time. Such life includes worry, weariness, and hopelessness. Even more, we lose our imagination. Perhaps this is one casualty of the evil rule of “king busy” that often goes unnoticed – busyness is uncreative. It is a life of diminishing possibilities and increasing limitations and the gradual slipping away of that which we hold dear.
Our children continually provoke us with the possibilities of imaginative play. Creative stories such as C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” and Andrew Peterson’s “The Wingfeather Saga” stir us to imagine, through fictional worlds and families, a mission and glorious hope of the real world created and one day to be restored through resurrection. In comparison, the uncreative “real world” has no such hope or mission other than to try and rob its citizens of seeing what is ultimately real. Imagination to the rational and scientific world is deceptive, being reduced to uncreative fleshly longings that began after uncreation occurred (the fall of the good creation). It continues through the fleshly longings of unimaginative lives – on the same treadmill day in and day out looking for ways to make life exciting through any number of unimaginative cravings. These fail to satisfy while sending their victims away empty yet still obsessed with the desire to return to the very same “source” of formlessness and emptiness “time” and “time” again.
The month of January brought us in new ways to the crossroads to two kingdoms – the kingdom of busy or the kingdom of God. Would we “press” our way through our work activities, or would we choose to be with God in His presence, imagining and even seeing first-hand how His story out of time continues within time. By His help alone, we clung to Him and saw marvelous things that we could hardly imagine…
Peruvian friends expressed such gratitude from such a depth in their hearts that God has brought us to live alongside of them. We can hardly describe in words what we imagine to be true from His perspective.
After delivering a two-day teaching at a retreat in Lima and at a workshop in Pucallpa, we were all struck with the marvelous and unimaginable realities of God’s Story and how to teach it to children (and adults). His Story has been written through real worlds and the lives of real families. Among these Kids Alive teams today, there was a sober realization of the serious consequences of unimaginative interpretation and application, of reducing glorious realities to out-of-context rules for controlling children (and adults). But even more there was creative conviction, and these house parents, caregivers, teachers, and missionaries sat in awe of the Author and the possibilities of imagining resurrection realities in the lives of children and their families now and forever.
During our Kids Alive Peru Missionary Retreat, our multi-national team imagined an upper room reality of possibilities for intimacy and mission that we so easily miss due to our tendencies toward the comforts and controls at our fingertips in the lower room probabilities of “ministry.”
Finally, two images convey this contrast and linger in our minds. In Lima, one night at a guesthouse I (Mark) watched about one hour of cable news coverage from the US over the Peruvian cable, just to “catch-up” a bit with culture and happenings in the States. There is no imagination necessary to know what I saw and heard and felt over and over and over again. It felt like “the whole world” was watching within the “urgency” of that time with angry, spiteful, or panic-stricken expressions. A couple weeks later, in a community outside of Pucallpa, I took the picture below. This is the new family that God is creating, which now includes five abandoned children. They live next to an orchard, and they enjoy its fruit. Imagine the possibilities of the resurrection life in Jesus Christ that emanate from such life in and out of time. While much of the world may not “see” this, we believe God is watching with a smile on His face.
Mark, Kristin, Caleb, Jacob, and Rachel Coté
Missionaries of Discipleship and Development based in Pucallpa, Peru
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