Hidden codes, image-laden shrouds, the Holy Grail, Jesus’ face on a piece of toast, a splinter from the cross. For nearly 2,000 years, desperate souls have sought to wrap their hands around a mystery. They chase fading relics of the past in a frenzied attempt to grasp a bit of the divine, like children running after lightening bugs on a warm summer evening. Obstinately, they try to capture a piece of the Creator in the hands of His creation.
A few years ago, my daughter asked an interesting question, quite out of the blue, “Daddy, are there splinters in heaven?”
“I don’t know, Sweetheart, maybe.” I answered.
“Well, how does God take them out?”
Now that’s a good question. But, what really struck me was how quickly I had been cut out of the picture. Don’t you know that in Heaven God takes care of your splinters? Children do. Children have this curious habit of asking God to remove all kinds of painful splinters, while adults are busy trying to find them.
Perhaps this curious habit of turning to God is one of the reasons that Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matthew 19:14) Childlikeness is not just about innocence. Children still throw the occasional tantrum over dessert or leverage a pouting lip into hearing an extra story before turning out the light. But, despite their “childlikeness,” they do know where to turn for help. They know who will be there when they are lost and afraid. They trust those who will always be there for them. This is the kind of trust that defines the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus knows all about splinters. He carried them, buried deep in His back as He stumbled through the streets of Jerusalem. He didn’t bear them so that His followers would one day find them in a futile attempt to gain some leverage over their Creator. He didn’t leave the splinters in the tomb so that they could be picked up again and displayed in a museum.
No, Jesus had God take them out…three days later.
His splinters remind us that God can take a life, broken and splintered, and make it whole again.