“You Be Jesus”

January 6, 2012 | 18 comments

I learn a lot on the playroom floor, sitting cross-legged with my daughters.

For the past year, a Polly Pocket Village has sprung up on the toy-strewn floor. We have a restaurant, a doctor’s office and a school – all built with Legos. The Pollies play at the village park, supported by corporate sponsor Fisher Price. Other local amenities include: a beauty parlor, a church and a townhouse where all the Pollies have lived communally for months now.

Polly Pocketville is not immune to urban sprawl. In recent weeks, the village has crept out of the confines of the playroom. But most of the activity still unfolds in the “inner-city,” right next to the Polly Pocket church – where two-inch-tall parishioners have a birthright to be plastic.

This is where I come in. My daughter, Anna, presses a plastic figurine in my hand every time I come to play: “You be Jesus.”

Which, of course, is what I want to be more than anything else: Jesus.

I want to be a Jesus to my children, my husband, my friends. So, I willingly grab the figure and play the part of the Savior, who is always the hero in our playroom dramas.

But the trouble is, I always play wrong. I keep my plastic Jesus close to the Lego-land sanctuary of St. Polly’s House of Worship. Mostly, it’s because I’m lazy. At my age, I don’t want to crawl around the floor, moving Jesus from Polly Church to Polly Townhome to Polly Playground to Polly Mall.

I like to keep my Jesus in church, thank-you-very-much.

This frustrates my daughter.

“Momm-eeee,” she knits her brow. “You aren’t playing right. Jesus has to do other stuff, too.”

I relinquish my plastic figurine to my daughter-tutor.

She moves Jesus across Lego-stone streets and around town. “Like this,” she says. And right there, I see what I’ve often done in my own life: leave Jesus at the altar.

For years, my life was compartmentalized like so: Work. Play. Worship. With no overlap.

I’d heard of “callings,” and “vocations,” but figured these were words that more aptly applied to pastors, nuns and overseas missionaries.

Subconsciously, I knew from the time that I was my daughter’s age that the glory of God hovered all around. I just hadn’t named it as such. Meanwhile, I kept God in a nice little box next to the baptismal font. No wonder He seemed so small.

I remember as a child, sitting on the front of my Dad’s fishing boat, overwhelmed by the vastness of earth and water – cerulean sky reflected on a rippling monastery.

I remember spending hours behind the shed of my childhood home, picking lily-of-the-valley to fill Mom’s vase with the fragrantly sacred. Bell-shaped heads bowed low – humble acknowledgment of holy God. They knew more than I.

I remember laying on my back, on the edge of a canyon in the Chisos mountains of Texas during a hiking trip in college. I looked up at twinkling sky-jewelry cutting holes in the pitch of night. It was so vast; this Iowa girl, so small.

But to name it? No. I didn’t know what this was. Do I even now?

I still have trouble naming it. I’m the Queen of missed opportunities. God swirls all around, and I’m oblivious. I’m lazy, sitting cross-legged by the Lego church.

Thirty-nine years, I’ve lived. You’d think by now I’d know what a “high calling” really is. I’m learning, though. I’ve figured this much out: God’s work, while evident from the vantage point of a pew, is perhaps best seen on the bow of a boat, in a glory-filled vase or on the edge of a Texas canyon.

Or, better yet, in a toy-strewn playroom.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment with a child-tutor.


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by | January 6, 2012 | 18 comments


  1. Jenifer

    I love this lesson!!! How often do we get lazy and leave Jesus in the four walls of the church? Thank you for this wonderful encouragement!!

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Jenifer, for stopping by. I’ve been re-reading Tozer, and he really nails this whole sacred/secular thing. He writes:

      “This is the old sacred-secular antithesis. Most Christians are caught in its trap. … (But) The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is our perfect example, and He knew no divided life.”

      Tozer writes that the so-called secular stuff includes ordinary activities like eating, sleeping, working, etc. “These we often do reluctantly and with many misgivings, often apologizing to God for what we consider a waste of time and strength. The upshot of this is that we are uneasy most of the time.”

  2. Amy

    This is a comparison that really makes me think. I love how God teaches us through everything…even Legos and children.

    • dukeslee

      All the world is a classroom, it seems. Thank you, Amy, for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Erin

    Oh this is just good. It goes along with what has been in my heart lately . . . things I’ve had trouble vocalizing. I need to try to put it all in words.

  4. Dea

    A few years ago when my kids were actually kids, they performed an impromptu Christmas story with their friends for their parents. The twelve-year-old narrator said, “And then Mary began having contractions.” The nine-year-old Mary didn’t quite know where to go with that! Kids teach us so much and remind us that the characters of the Bible aren’t made out of plastic!

    FYI: I really stretched my lack of techy knowledge and wanted you to know might be registered at THC. LOL

    I think all the editors over there will be messaging me to telling me to hire an editor because the Lord knows I need one (or two!). I have a whole new appreciation for the profession since I started to write outside my journals.
    The brain sure has a funny way of filling in the blanks!! 🙂

  5. Jennifer@Adam's Rib

    I do love learning from children–they’re so matter of fact with their teaching, with their blending of the secular and sacred. Tozer is right–there is no difference.

  6. Matthew Kreider

    Maybe we don’t have to “name it” — maybe we’re just asked to do it. And it sounds like you are.

    And I’m just struck by the power of imagination here. It fills the sky, the vase, and the Lego village. Imagination helps us move. Imagination helps us work, even cross-legged on the floor.

    Thanks for this post. It helps me see some things ..l

  7. Dolly

    Love how you live His life and love out with your girls and on your blog…so grateful we can see Him because He left us so many clues …Thanks, Jennifer 🙂

  8. Brock S. Henning

    Howdy, Jennifer. God hammered me with this very message earlier today, not that I’ve been surprised. I’ve allowed eight months of a demanding move transition to steal the most important things, like building Lego castles on the floor with my kids. (Of course, we couldn’t find the Legos because they were boxed up in storage!). This makes for another lump on the head, but at least the Legos are unboxed now. 🙂

  9. Dave Vander Laan


    That’s the word that comes to mind even while reading your words.

    Too often, I’ve reinforced the sacred/secular lines instead of tearing them down. Too often I’ve been intentional about being purposeful in the Kingdom and really missed out on being playful and joy-filled.

    And I forget the child-like joy that comes from being leisurely because everything is actually Kingdom stuff. When I remember that, the thought of being Jesus stirs me to respond: “Really, Abba – I get to live the part of your Son – and you’ll help?”

    Feeling the freshness of Holy Ghost grace in your words, Jennifer.

  10. Sheila

    Scary and exhilarating, isn’t it, when the walls of the tidy compartments we struggle to build begin to crumble?

    I’m trying to get comfortable with the chunks of fallen plaster, here, and the expansive view when the partitions come down, and I look and see that it’s.all.Him.

    A big lesson to relearn every day. Thank you.

  11. Lori

    I smiled as I read this because I so remember playing “in place” so I wouldn’t have to expend the “extra” energy needed to keep up with the kids. And then I said Amen to your lesson,which was so telling.

  12. Jennifer_StudioJRU

    Or, better yet, in a toy-strewn playroom… oh YES! Love it Jennifer! And is that Jesus wearing Mickey Mouse shades? 🙂 LOVE.

  13. Janet

    Love this so much.

    We are all asked to be “Jesus” to some one. And you are right. So often we confine him to church or somewhere else that’s convenient for us.


  14. claire

    Nobody puts Jesus in a corner! You need to get your Jesus out there where everyone can see him and have access to him! I love that Jesus gets to play with the Pollies and the Legos. It’s perfect.

  15. Melody Pickle

    I will be Jesus today while I do laundry, pick up legos, and dodge Nerf bullets! I will try to get it right and remember that my child’s smile is a Holy gift from my loving Abba’s hand.

    Thanks, Jennifer


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