The answer

Last week, I sat in a chair facing a group of four-year olds as they sat “crisscross applesauce” and waited for me to read a book to them. I explained about the author who was also the illustrator, highlighting his beautiful pictures and use of vibrant color. Once we had finished the book, the other teacher in the room quizzed the kids to see if they remembered what I had told them.

 

“Boys and girls, who remembers what Miss Abby said before she read the story? Hmmm? Who’s job is it to make the pictures in this book?”

 

There was a pause, and then one little boy shot up his hand. “God?” he asked.

 

The other teacher replied, “God gave this person the ability to make the pictures, but who makes the pictures in books?”

 

A little girl responded tentatively, “Jesus?”

 

“Well…no. It’s the ill…uh…sss…” the teacher hinted.

 

A little boy shouted triumphantly, “I know. I know. Dolly Parton!”

 

For kids who grow up going to church and hearing about the Bible, it’s a regular occurrence to have them guess God or Jesus for nearly any question posed to them. It’s seems funny and might make us think that they’re not really paying attention, but maybe their childlike, naïve answers actually demonstrate a profound and pure Biblical principle.

 

When Jesus was comforting his closest followers in John 14, He tells them not to be troubled, because He’s going to get everything ready for them. Then He assures them that He’ll come back and get them. And anyway, they don’t need to worry since they know exactly where He’s going.

 

One of the apostles, Thomas, says, “Hang on…we don’t know where you’re going, so how can we know the way?”

 

Then Jesus answers with one of His most crucial and revealing statements about his identity. Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

 

This is the sixth of the seven “I Am Statements” Jesus gives us in His Word: I am the way and the truth and the life. In those ten words, Jesus lays His claim to their allegiance to His kingdom and His calling on their lives. It’s telling that the early Christians called their church “The Way.” They weren’t afraid to be confident in proclaiming Jesus’ unique position of exclusivity. He is the only way to the Father, and yet all are welcome to join Him. Those first Christians knew that Jesus, God’s Son, is the ultimate source of truth and life. Everything He spoke on earth was true, even down to the most unbelievable claims about His resurrection.

 

As it turns out, those bright-eyed four-year olds I read to last week were communicating a truth as old as Creation and yet as new as the mercies God poured out to me this morning—Jesus is the answer.

Line of dominoes

A few weeks ago, I heard an unmistakable chirping sound as I walked through the basement to the laundry room. We had recently changed the batteries in the various smoke alarms, but we had overlooked the carbon monoxide detector mounted high on the wall. As I climbed a chair to take it down, from my high vantagepoint I noticed that the thermostat situated just below and to the right of the carbon monoxide detector was blank. Nothing was on or running. The HVAC unit for the basement doesn’t see a lot of action since the cave-lake rooms down there mostly remain at a consistently pleasant temperature, so who knows how long it had been out. I called an air conditioning repairman, and he alerted me to the fact that the drain pan which the unit sits in was full of water, resulting in the unit cutting out. Otherwise, it was operating perfectly fine. He also showed me where a slow but steady drip was winding its way from somewhere upstairs, hopping from one wire or cable or pipe to another, then eventually landing in that drain pan. Later that evening, my husband and I took turns being the upstairs-listener or the downstairs-tapper (the basement person poking a broom handle on the spot where we thought the leak originated), until we located the leaky culprit—the water line to the refrigerator. Next to enter, a plumber who had to cut a bit of the drywall behind the refrigerator to get to the spot in need of repair. With his task accomplished, our last domino fell in this particular home repair saga.

 

The whole sequence of events—innocent chirping to blank screen to full drain pan to refrigerator leak—presented a few what-ifs. What if I were taller and didn’t require a chair to get the detector down, making me less likely to notice the thermostat? What if the drips hadn’t chosen that particular path (into the drain pan), but instead dripped behind a wall where it would go unseen, eventually causing real damage?

 

The experience was a reminder to me that things are happening behind the scenes everyday which I am absolutely oblivious to but still affected by. For instance, how many times have I been on my way out of the house and then I’m forced to run back inside for some forgotten item making me a fraction later, but also making me miss being involved in an accident? There’s just no way to know.

 

You can approach this reality two different ways: You can see life as a wild ride, unchecked and uncontrolled by anyone. Everything is just coincidence and good or bad luck. Or you can breathe a sigh of relief and know that my life and the lives of every single soul I encounter are tethered to a plan. There is Someone in control, and (Thank goodness!) it isn’t me. For many people, their favorite scripture is Romans 8:28, and for good reason. During those times when things seem to be spinning out of control, it’s encouraging to read: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Still a shock

Twenty years ago I had the shock of my life. After a year of unsuccessful attempts to have a baby, I had finally seen the coveted two lines on a pregnancy test. A few weeks after the positive test, I started having issues which made me think I was losing the baby. I made an appointment, and my husband and I went to see the doctor.

 

As I lay on the examining table and the tech rubbed the gooey gel on my stomach to prepare me for the ultrasound, I felt so sure we were having a miscarriage. I held up my shirt and stared at the dark ceiling. Not daring to peek at what was on the monitor—not that I could’ve even deciphered all those streaks of light and gray-white blobs anyway—I just let the tears slide into my ears and concentrated on breathing.

 

Brent held my hand while the woman moved the wand around my abdomen. Suddenly I heard Brent gasp. He had spotted something on the monitor. “Am I seeing…” he began to ask before his voice trailed off in bewilderment.

 

“I’m not supposed to tell you anything,” the tech revealed in an almost whisper, “but there are two of them.”

 

My mind was whirring with what complications they had seen in the ultrasound. Did my baby have two heads? The tears were coming in torrents now. Then Brent breathed the word: twins.

 

It had never occurred to me in all my fantasies about becoming a mother—and let me say, I am a world-class daydreamer—that I would have twins. They didn’t “run in my family” (most everyone’s first question) and I hadn’t used fertility drugs. Twins just weren’t on my radar. It was such a gob-smack of a surprise.

 

After our appointment was finished, Brent and I went to eat lunch. We decided on the drive to a Mexican restaurant that we would wait until I was farther along to tell anyone our news. Yes…absolutely. We should wait. Then I went in the restroom to wash my hands before we ate, and I noticed a woman also washing her hands at the sink next to me. She was a complete stranger, but I turned to her and said, “I’m pregnant with twins.” I’m sure I had the kookiest grin on my face at that moment. She nodded and backed out of the room as if I had just escaped from the looney bin.

 

I confessed my transgression to Brent as soon as I returned to our table. I told him I just had to get it out of my system, and now I would be good. I kept my promise, and we told family and friends the big news over Thanksgiving. The following May, I gave birth to twin daughters.

 

A lot of that day seems like a dream now. Our twin daughters, who I consider to be sisters who just happened to have the same birthday, continue to surprise and delight me with every passing year. It’s been two decades since I knew they were sharing the same little room inside me, but their existence still strikes me as just as wonderfully miraculous as it did so many Octobers ago.