We Played the Flute for You

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I have been at camps and Vacation Bible Schools and then more camps all summer. The most recent one, constructed a small-scale template of society. The kids were divided into teams by ‘table groups’ (in the cafeteria), and as a way to foster competition in activities, team spirit etc, they were encouraged to create a country. Each country had its own name, “call to arms” flag, language, currency and what they are known for. Beyond this, the kids set up their own little democracies or parliaments, some of them were dictatorships. It’s a little bit like Calvin Ball, the rules are kind of made up depending on the current need of the individual.

The group I was in developed political rivalries, law enforcement, head of the military, and even a corrupt media. We counselors were the common citizenry. The governments waged war all day against one another, forming alliances, and taking prisoners etc. The countries were born at the beginning of the week, and in about 5 days we already had a deeply corrupt system of government. By Friday, counselors had to form a mutiny and restore order before we sent the kids back to the United States.

When observing children, you will find they create their own society naturally, even without the encouragement of a camp theme. If you watch kids on the playground within moments, you will find the A and B groups emerge. The dominant ones will create a structure of play that the others are supposed to adhere to. The leaders vie for their interests trying to convince other kids to play the games they enjoy. They develop their own system of law or justice, and if the law is not adhered to, parents have to play law enforcement and restore justice.

This is, in a sense, similar to how we as a society will respond to one another. Depending on your character, you might not feel confident, advocating for a better system. Whether at work, family or politically. You might sit back and allow the ‘louder’ kids to create the structure. The conspiratorial side of me has often wondered if there have been cures for cancer, or if the most intelligent person in the world is farming potatoes somewhere, because he didn’t feel confident enough to establish himself within a society as someone who might have some answers. Perhaps we could have artists and inventors far more talented than the ones we commonly know, because they never had confidence in their abilities. They were told they were not talented or smart and so they sat back and let stronger personalities do the things.

But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to their companions and saying; We played the flute for you and you did not dance; we mourned to you, and you did not lament. Matthew 11: 16,17

              Sometimes society doesn’t understand when a leader emerges. Jesus didn’t play the game the Sanhedrin had laid out. He upset a lot of people when he wasn’t willing to adhere to the local authority. He turned the world upside down because he didn’t follow arbitrary rules. We should not turn Jesus into a flagrant bomb-thrower, but he was revolutionary. He was hated, because he was intimidating, and he was intimidating because he didn’t allow Himself to be forced into society’s roles. He wasn’t what people thought he was going to be. The Jews needed a liberator and that was what Jesus was – just not by the definition they had.

John came neither eating nor drinking and they say, “He has a demon.” The son of man came eating and drinking and they say, “Look, a glutton and a winebibber a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Matthew 11:19

Like the children in the marketplace, some people you will never make happy.

              I was a mother and wife, homeschooler, and missionary for many years. All those things are great things to do, and all of them necessary at the times in my life I did them. As my kids grew to be more independent, I had to redefine myself. My nurturing skills have become less necessary, and I have realized that I could choose a few things to do with my time outside of laundry and dishes.

              That was when I started to realize how much I love to write. This was a part of me that hadn’t emerged since high school. (I kept my English teacher entertained with my writing assignments but no one else really knew I enjoyed writing.) I hadn’t explored it much, and my family didn’t expect it from me. They were very supportive, but I had to be intentional about it. I wonder if each of us has a lot more to contribute which we are afraid to because we might be criticized or judged. Many times, we may even put limitations on ourselves. It’s easy to allow yourself to be defined, but it can be very hard to define yourself.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going – Ecclesiastes 9:10