We are a story, a living story, if we are anything, and this is one reason, maybe the best, why stories will never go out of fashion.
In my own family, much of our time together revolves around stories. We read them every night and often the children read more on their beds, flashlights in hand, before sleep, then waking the next morning to, on the long school run, often listen to more stories.
In the best of these stories, characters are as alive as you or me or the sorry soul walking down the street. We share in their joys, and, of course, more so, their troubles. In the good stories, the ones we can’t help but fall into, we’re never left the same.
Into this now comes Christmas. So, this Christmas season, the Daily Dad will share from The Story.
The Story is a global online reading guide created by Scripture Union Canada, a five-year project that aims to connect our story with God’s story.
I am among the dozens of Canadian writers who have contributed to The Story, which is now in its 80th week of online postings. Through December, for Christmas, I’ll share five of my contributions, some reflections from the books of Matthew and Mark.
Some are among the stories read in my own family at one time or another. Others are not. Each shares a brief story or passage from Scripture, then my reflection, then, at end, a short reader response.
I hope you enjoy.
Today’s selection, here or below, is #3 of 5.
Falling into a heap of rubble
1As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Teacher, look at these beautiful stones and wonderful buildings!”
2Jesus replied, “Do you see these huge buildings? They will certainly be torn down! Not one stone will be left in place.”
3Later, as Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives across from the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to him in private.4They asked, “When will these things happen? What will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
5Jesus answered: Watch out and don’t let anyone fool you!6Many will come and claim to be me. They will use my name and fool many people.
It was bedtime when the children asked the big one. ‘Daddy, when is the end of the world?’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘You might get hit by a milk truck tomorrow, and so, for any one of us the end of the world can come at any time.’
My, at the time, seven-year-old, Jon, didn’t buy this. He excitedly said that he can’t wait for it, the fireworks and glory and power of Jesus’ return. Liz, two years older, was more cautious. Horrible things will happen when the world ends, she said. My youngest, Hannah, 6 at the time, simply listened. I was fascinated by the innate nature of all their questions. Where do children even get it from?
Jesus, it seems, knew our propensity to wonder about these things. So, one day, he made a teaching moment from a passing remark that his disciples had made on the beauty of the temple. It was a tremendous structure that covered 35 acres and represented the Jewish community’s lifeblood.
It will all fall, Jesus said. Nothing will be left. Just rubble. And the Jewish Temple did literally fall shortly later, in 70 AD, when the Romans sacked it and scattered the Jews for what would become centuries.
Jesus was also talking about the end times, on which he then elaborated. But he started his exposition by alluding to a finer point. Don’t put your trust in what is temporary. Even the sturdiest of things won’t be around forever. Not your home, or work, or even closest loved ones.
None of these are wrong in themselves. They’re given by God, just as the temple was given for good reasons. But if we don’t see their passing nature, we’ll miss the far greater thing that God has for us: himself.
Loving Heavenly Father: Help me to see the temporary nature of even the grandest of earthly treasures, how even the sturdiest of things are not meant to last forever. Only your love is that enduring. Fill me with, above all, a desire for it.