I gesture toward another figure below Zacchaeus, who beckons for Zacchaeus to come down.
A commotion starts as the three, four, and five year olds discuss the possibilities. Finally, out of the din to my left, one small voice says, “God on the ground.”
I wheel around in my chair to the child, blown away by the profound implications of those four words. Now, this little fellow had played a wise man in our Christmas play, and I wondered if his casting had been more on point than I realized.
I study the wee one's sincere face. “Yes, Austin, that is God on the ground. Thank you so much.”
On Saturday, we lost a friend way too young after a valiant fight against cancer. She leaves two children not out of high school and college. Then on Sunday morning, the news coming out of Orlando left us stunned.
Amidst what can seem almost overwhelming grief and heartache in this life, we might lose sight of my little student’s insight. Jesus was God on the ground come to say God loves us. He cares.
And he didn’t have to be. When he got the invite to the “We’re having a save the world party,” he could have sent in his RSVP― thanks, but no thanks. The idea of leaving heaven and suffering for the sins of the whole world might not have had the greatest appeal. It wouldn’t be what the cool kids on earth were doing.
But from the foundation of the world, Jesus was destined to be God on the ground, to walk where we walk, to feel what we feel, to suffer as we suffer, because once more, He loves us.
Though he has ascended into heaven, he has left us the Holy Spirit to be our comforter, our guide, our teacher. So God on the ground has become God in the center of our being. Indwelling us with His very presence.
So as we read the newspapers, and watch the news coverage of the Florida attacks, the general reporting becomes more specific as faces and stories emerge. Heartbreaking. But we take comfort that for these families, God is present, suffering alongside.
So, thank you my wise little friend, Austin, for the reminder. God on the ground means God loves us even in our suffering.
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3).