Every parent knows that, when it comes to toys, you get rid of the junk but you hold onto the sturdy, reliable, solid stuff. Like blocks. Or Lego. Or even train tracks. Because as children grow and change and play in new and different ways, they wind up incorporating these timeless toys into new games.
When our boys were little their Grandpa and Gigi gave them a wooden crate of solid wood building blocks. As toddlers, they used these blocks to construct very basic structures. Then they went through a long stretch of time when they didn’t touch these blocks at all. Complete disinterest, it seemed. They were into new stuff. More than once I wondered if it was time to pass these blocks along to someone else.
But then last night before bed the boys begged me to let them spend a couple minutes playing with their blocks before story time. So while I sat on the floor and watched, they both quickly built sweet little ramps for their airplanes and monster trucks and Spidermen-riding-motorcycles. They were having a blast. Their vehicles would take off from the top of the ramp and often collide in mid air with their brother's vehicle; the sound effects were incredible. (It’s almost like little boys are born knowing how to make 'vrooming' and crashing noises, or something.)
I’d noticed this resurgence of interest in their blocks for a while, and I’d seen how they played with them altogether differently than they had a few years ago. But I’d never asked if there had been a precipitating incident.
Last night as I sat watching, I was curious. Hey boys, when did you start playing with your blocks again? You build monster truck ramps almost every day now, it seems to me. Remember how, for a while, you never used to play with them at all?
Slotted strategically between dramatic sound effects, Jake answered. Well, one time a while ago, when Keith was here, he taught us how to build ramps like this and we’ve been doing it ever since. We love it. (Keith is a fun, young university student at our church.)
Same old reliable building blocks. Nothing about them had changed. But the boys have changed. Their abilities have changed. And they’d been taught how to use the blocks differently.
What was old had become challenging, new, and exciting.
And so it is, in some ways at least, with the building blocks of our faith: solid theology.
Right theology doesn’t change. It’s durable. It’s resilient. While the trendy junk around it gets tossed aside, right doctrine endures through changing seasons and from one generation to the next. And even in our own lives, our own personal experience, we see how it is those deep theological truths that we never outgrow, that we wind up returning to again and again.
As we mature, as we grow in wisdom, and as we’re taught by others, theology interests us and grips us in new and powerful ways. We change. The world around us changes. But the theology itself is as steady as the God who it teaches us about.
I have a feeling I’m going to hold onto these building blocks and one day pass them down to the next generation. They’ll be vintage; they’ll be used; they’ll even be a little banged up. But when something is solid, it never needs to be replaced.