October 2, 2014

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

Sesame Street was one of my favorite children’s shows when my daughter was growing up. “Watch Sessie,” she would say, wanting to see “Big Ick” (Big Bird) and the gang every afternoon during her toddler days.

Even now, years later, Joe and I still reminisce about and quote lines from the show. Do any of you parents remember Smokey Robinson singing “You Really Got a Hold on Me” while trying to get out of the grip of the letter U (get it—“you” sounds like “U”)? “Squeal of Fortune” with the Count and Prairie Dawn? Ernie and the boogie-woogie sheep (“Oh, not the bugle!” Bert moans)? Grover and the waiter (“Round and tasty on a bun, pickles, French fries, yum, yum, yum”), and Captain Vegetable  (“My name is Eddie, I love spaghetti…”)? Or Guy Smiley and the shrieking shovel?

So I was glad to read that Elmo and Murray have teamed up with the National Park Service to introduce youngsters to the national parks. So far there are videos for the Grand Canyon and Gateway National Recreation Area, and you can find them here. It’s a fun way for you and the kids or grandkids to explore our great landscapes together.

Sesame Street’s theme song ends with a question—“Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?” Thomas, one of Jesus’s disciples, posed a similar query to the Man he’d been following for three years. At the time, in view of His coming crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, Jesus had been encouraging His disciples: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places…I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” (John 14:1-4).

Obviously, Thomas wasn’t quite sure he did. “Lord, we do not know where You are going; how do we know the way?” (v. 5). And Jesus graciously and plainly answered him: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (vs. 6).

Christianity has been denigrated as a religion of exclusivity, meaning it shuts people out. One way to God? How narrow-minded! Yes, it is—“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” Jesus said in Matthew 7:13 and 14.

Think of it this way: finding the “broad way” is pretty simple. We humans are always looking for the easy way, the shortcut, the quick route—and the world gladly offers plenty. It’s so much easier to do what we want and go with the flow, but the consequences aren’t pretty: “Professing to be wise, they became fools…and exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator…[So] God gave them over to degrading passions [and] a depraved mind…being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:22, 25, 26, 28-32).

Finding and traveling down a “narrow” path takes more time and effort. It means searching out and choosing a different direction. For example, who really wants to work out and eat right, or go to work every day? Not most of us. But we make the decision to get off the couch or out of bed because we enjoy the rewards—a healthy weight and body, and money in the bank. We feel better, act better, live better. And that makes the discipline and sacrifice worth it.

That “narrow way” is what Jesus offers us—a meaningful life with the God of the universe alongside to help us stand up under its slings and arrows (Matthew 11:28-30, John 16:33, Ephesians 6:10-13), and eternal rewards. And that path is open to everyone who looks for it: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

It’s not how you get to Sesame Street, but it’ll get you someplace even more delightful!

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