Poem – Jesus at the Playground

Jesus at the Playground

by Jerry Johnson

Tootlin’ in his mighty caddy
Headin’ for the battle of important work,
The wholly man slammed on brakes
and gave the wheel a jerk:
Was that really Jesus?
Back at the school playground?
As he threw the car door open
His crusty heart began to pound.
He ran up to the Saviour thinking,
“What is He doin’ here?
“Good Master, can I ask you?”
He blurted without fear,
“Why in this everlovin’ world
would YOU, of all, be found
“Leaning on this chain-link fence
By this vacant school playground?”
“Shhhhhhh,” He whispered,
And with a gentle motion of His calloused hand,
He gestured, authoritatively, to the man
Beside Him there to stand.
“I looked all over town for You.
After a while I just plain quit!
“You know all the church work I do.
I figured You’d show when You saw fit.
“Who’d of ever guessed you’d be leaning
on this empty playground fence?
“I’m running my fool head off for you,
But you’re not even tense!”

“Shhhhhhh,” again, He whispered,
Taking the wholly man’s hand,
“Quietly wait here beside me.
In a moment you will understand.”

Wait!?! You say? Wait?  Man . . . !
Who is going to save the hoards out there lost?
“I’ve got all Your nagging sheep to feed!
And fund raising to cover YOUR costs!

A lingering gaze from the Master’s eyes,
A squeeze upon his anxious hand,
And the wholly man got the point:
Not suggesting, Christ was giving a command.

So . . . they stood there, One, patient;
The other stewing over wasted time.

It happened without warming:
The recess bell began to chime!
With a CRASH! the school doors opened
As though they had been kicked! 
A horde of balls of energy
In all directions, lickity-split.

As He watched the playing children 
Jesus’ face lit up with pure delight.
Amazement turning to disgust,
The wholly man could not believe his sight:
Here was Jesus all intense
Watching these foolish children play.
Not a soul was being witnessed to;
Not one kid knew how to pray!
“Jesus, these young’uns have no understanding
About hard work or sin or evil or hate;
“And the tithes would amount to nothing
If we passed the offering plate!
“No church buildings would ever get built
If we left it up to them to do!
“And rather than making an improvement
The place’ll be worse off when they’re thru!”

Jesus looked down on the wholly man,
“Would you please listen to yourself?!
“My children are not commodities
For you to count sitting on the shelf!
“My work is not just about new buildings
Or homilies on the psychology of hate.
“Now consider the end of your religiosity.
Stand quietly there.  Watch . . . and wait.”

The preacher knew Christ might be right.
He accepted that he’d been put in his place.

The Master’s attention returned to the children,
Love beaming from His face.

Just then, the wholly man saw her
A little girl, sitting on a motionless swing:
Other children’s games did not amuse her,
Their toys, right now, were not her thing.
She looked where they were standing,
And in a moment, time joined eternity:
When she saw Jesus, she called to Him:
“Daddy, will you come swing me?”
His whole body beaming with joy,
As seeing no other sight, hearing no other sound:
The Master ran to swing his child
Two hearts with infinite love together bound.

The wholly man stood there in shock
As he took in the stark, cold reality:
That Jesus would rather play with His child
Than toil and struggle and jerk and fight with he!
That old crusty heart began to melt.
He ran, clerical garb flailing in the wind,
Joyfully took a swing beside the little girl, 
His religious war was over, fighting at an end. 

© Copyright 2001, Gerald Thomas Johnson, Norfolk, VA.  All rights reserved.

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