Playing in the sandbox

May 28, 2019

By Rev. Terri Horn

Life is a sandbox these days,
like it was when I was little. In a sandbox, we brought ourselves and our toys to create glorious castles, roads, and even rivers of flowing water. No one knew what that sand would become until we all created it together into something new. When we helped each other, an entire ecosystem was carved out in the sand connecting us to one another. It was actually my first spiritual experience within a group. There was nothing that could not be created with the Spirit’s playfulness and creativity. We even shared our Tonka toys to help each one succeed. That’s when the light and love of the kingdom broke through, when we helped each other succeed in the sandbox for a purpose greater than ourselves.

But now, heaven is struggling to break through. Sand is flying and words are breaking the very roads we built together. How does one live within the ambiguity of the sandbox?

Once, I applied for a position in a company with rapidly shifting sands that created uncertainty almost every day. It was their sandbox, and I was an employee within it helping them achieve their goals. Change was both their strength and the core of their chaos. My interviewer asked me how I felt about ambiguity. It was a strange question. How do I feel about ambiguity? “Ambiguity just is,” I said. It is not good or bad, right or wrong, awful or joyful. It just is. Life is full of ambiguity. I got the job.

That’s how I’m surviving the uncertainty in the sandbox these days—embracing the ambiguity of change, which is both the strength and the chaos of the church. Sometimes it is a struggle and I desperately want to fix the sandbox—my way. I want to control the sandbox, but am I forgetting who really owns it?  

God owns the sandbox, not me. It is God’s sandbox, and I am there as a disciple who lives into Christ’s mission to redeem the world through love. “Love one another as I have loved you.” That is what I do to help God in the sandbox. It is what makes me a disciple, transforming the world, and identifies me as one of Christ’s disciples working together with other disciples in God’s sandbox. I don’t get to pick and choose who enters the sandbox. God does. Nor do I get to judge them. God does that as well. My job is to love them. Period.

Maybe we need to go back to the sandbox—remember who owns it, the mission and what we are to do within it. And, if we are really in sync with God, maybe we can stretch the water hose for life-giving rivers and waterfalls that connect us to one another in the sandbox. When we love one another, then everyone will know that we are Christ’s disciples—by watching us play in the sandbox.

Rev. Terri Horn serves Le Sueur UMC. She recently shared this reflection in response to the question “How are you living and leading during this uncertain time in The United Methodist Church?”

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