Mom, come look.
They tug my arms and usher me to the backyard where behold our weathered patio table and benches have been transformed into a blanket-draped fort.
It’s The O.S.S. – Our Organization of Secret Spies. They beam at their work, as if they just completed the final construction detail for the Empire State Building.
As they invite me inside, I bend low and notice a cardboard computer in the corner, bunks, books, codes, secret notes, and maps peppering the fort. It’s childhood imagination on steroids and memories of fort-building in the Joshua Drive living room flood. That brown, flowered blanket topped with heavy coffee table books, and hours spent laying on my tummy or back, simply creating.
It’s amazing how bickering pauses, hours are multiplied, and worship occurs when we enjoy the imaginative moment presented before us.
I’m thinking God gave me kids not so I can teach, but to learn from them. To notice His imagination in their hand- drawn secret maps and cardboard cut-out remotes, in their patio bench beds and paper TVs hung with glitter tape.
I think God gives us kids as an invitation to play and enjoy Him while doing so.
When I was pregnant with Tanner, Bry and I shared a dinner out with my folks at Novo. The San Luis Obispo restaurant’s patio overlooked the historic riverbed, a stone’s throw from the mission. Under twinkly cafe lights and small plate appetizers I asked them, What’s one thing you would’ve done different in parenting? My dad’s response surprised. He shared that he wished we’d done more family weekend trips, camped, ditched church and gone to the beach. I loved how involved your mom and I were in serving and Sunday School, but sometimes those responsibilities didn’t allow us to take a Sunday off.
It’s a balance, isn’t it? Serving and spontaneity. Responsibilities and relationships. Details and dreams.
Seven years later and the truth of those words stays. Church is a beautiful place to build community and gather to worship and gobble faith truths. But church isn’t confined to walls and programs and events. Church happens, like yesterday, where on a sunny Sunday, the boys and I chose to take church to the O.S.S. You see, worship happens at church, but worship also happens in out-of-the-box ways like fort-building, and drawing secret spy codes in red marker, and creating “refrigerators for our food” with small ice packs to cool imaginary grapes and yogurts. Worship happens when we we cover patio tables with holey blankets and worn beach towels and notice Him alive in us, because when we enjoy playing, we experience our Father smiling within. Worship and singing go hand-in-hand, so why not add building, playing basketball, baking, painting, teaching, kissing, cardio-barring, flea-marketing and coloring to the list?
Perhaps one of the most beautiful expressions of worship is when we welcome God to meet us in our imaginative play. Suddenly, church happens in everyday moments. Worship translates into adoring Him as Real wherever we are, whether at church, work, the classroom, home, or crouched on patio concrete underneath a mish-mashed canvas of towels and blankets.
Cheers to out-of-the-box worship at the fresh start of a new week. Hopefully Organization Secret Spy Forts are on the agenda.
Where will you play and imagine today?