Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Wild Rumpus

Maurice Sendak died today. He was 83. 

Who is Maurice Sendak, you may ask? First off, shame on you. Secondly, he was one of the greatest children's literature authors of the past three generations. Sendak was most well known for the Caldecott Medal-winning Where the Wild Things Arepublished in 1963. This book has been winning the hearts of children and adults alike for nearly fifty years. Some of you may know that I am a big-time lover of children's literature. If you've read any of my other posts, you can see that. 
Oh, I'm back by the way. Didn't fall off the face of the earth, just of the face of the blogging earth for a bit. But have no fear, I have returned :) 

This morning, as I discovered the passing of Sendak and began to read some articles about his life and legacy, I came upon one that gave mention to an interesting parallel in Where the Wild Things Are. Lucky for you, I'm going to spend some time relaying this parallel. 

Let the wild rumpus start. 

Where the Wild Things Are is a story about a boy named Max. Max was misbehaving, so his mother called him a "wild thing" and sent him to bed without dinner. As an independent, stubborn child, Max decides to set off on a journey, away from the rule of his mother to where the wild things are. Upon his arrival, Max proves himself as the wildest thing of all and becomes king of the wild things. Eventually, however, Max becomes lonely and wants "to be where someone loved him best of all." He leaves the wild things and makes the long journey back home where his dinner is waiting in his room. And it's still hot. 

Cute story, right? (It's way better if you read the real thing, by the way.) Well..I think that this can go beyond just a piece of great children's literature. I think, if we look closely, we can see a whole lot of ourselves in Max. Don't we do this all the time against God? We misbehave, he disciplines us, and we run from him. Our anger in thinking "I don't deserve this treatment" or "I can make my own decisions" leads us to a rebellion that runs from the Lord and to our own place where the wild things are. At first, this rebellion is fun. We delight in the attention and freedom that we feel. As with all sin, though, the glory is short-lived. It doesn't take long to feel lonely and empty. We realize that we have done the exact opposite of what David describes in Psalm 103 when he says "Praise the Lord, O, my soul, and forget not all his benefits." Daily we forget the readily available benefits of the Most High as we seek to find our own way. 

Luckily, this is not where the story ends! Just like Max, we turn around. We can leave our wild things. It isn't easy. Sin is tricky, our flesh wants us to believe it is where we belong. The wild things begged Max to stay with them. They cried "Oh, please don't go -- we'll eat you up -- we love you so!" Just like Max, we know that we cannot listen to the begging and the pleading of the wild things, of our flesh. We must make the journey back to where we belong. There is hope in this. Hope of eternal joy. This is when we can say:

"I remember my affliction and my wondering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'" Lamentations 3:19-24

This passage from Lamentations is our own Where the Wild Things Are. As we return to the Lord, we see that he is where we belong. Over and over again, we repeat Max's story with our lives. Over and over again, the Lord delivers us from our mistakes. 

And over and over again, just like Max we are able to run from our rebellion into the arms of the one who loves us most of all.  Dinner is waiting in your room. And it's still hot. 

Much love,

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