My grandson is in transition between the keepsakes of toddler-hood and the new trappings that come with entering first grade. Gone are stuffed Winnie the Poohs and megablocks, and in their place have grown masked turtles with capes, Wii games, and Lego-blocks beyond count.
He knows he is moving into a different season of maturity. But he has a dilemma, and the dilemma has a name: Choo-choo Blanket. It’s aptly named, for numerous tiny trains roam across its flannel face. Choo-choo has been his friend and companion on tough days, through tears and illness and disappointments, since birth. It has been the last thing he holds close to his chin when night time envelops him and the first thing he looks for when the next morning awakens him.
This transition is causing him some discomfort, and he has adjusted the old and the new in a careful balance…a balance that has resulted in Choo-Choo being cleverly disguised, comfortably residing in a top-zipping, eight inch fuzzy acorn with a handle, rather than openly draped across his lap or tucked under an arm.
Choo-Choo is now concealed in a nut “house.”
The closeness to the phrase “nuthouse” makes me chuckle….but not for long.
There is a parallel that can be drawn from this, and it can be a sobering parallel because we are all in seasons of transitioning from one level of maturity to another. As Paul taught, “But we all…beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18, NASB) Some of our personal choo-choo blankets have been friends and companions since birth. Many of them even survived our spiritual rebirth from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Those components that have become familiar to us over time – whether poverty or riches, legalism or apathy, detrimental companions – take on the illusion of being a part of ourselves, a part of the essence that God created in us and a part of the landscape around us.
That would be a deception.
Paul stated boldly, “…from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God…” (2 Cor. 5:16-18, NASB)
So while I may continue to hold on to my choo-choo blanket in some form (or even many different forms) my intent and its reason for existence, to comfort and stabilize me right now, in whatever I face…is already concluded, negated, voided. Old things have passed away…my “security blanket” is but a shell because I am no longer what I was…we are no longer synchronized.
The second point: “…all these things are from God.” What are some of the “things” that Paul might be referencing? “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit and life in Christ Jesus has set you free…for those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God….” (Romans 8:1,2, 5-7, NASB)
The Spirit has been released to us, the life in Christ Jesus has set us free. Boldly past tense.
So what are we to do with our beloved Choo-choo’s?
I believe Paul would recommend, “…let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us….” (Heb 12:1, NASB)
It is difficult to run if you’re tripping over a blanket. Even a blanket in a nut house….