As the parent of toddlers, I see myself all too often in my kids. Sometimes this is a great thing: trusting just because they know I love them, coming to me when they need comforted or calling out my name when they are scared at night. Those are a few good things that I see in them that remind me of my relationship to my Heavenly Father.
But then there are a lot of things that aren’t so great to see in the “mirror” of my children. Disobedience, of course, but what about obedience paired with the wrong attitude - motivations for doing the right thing that are just all wrong, or lack of trust & response to my presence when I’m trying to get their attention. I often catch myself getting so frustrated with them for the very things I struggle to do well in my walk with Christ! I can almost picture God shaking his head as I’m disciplining my kids, likely thinking, “Take a look in the mirror, pal!”
This was brought to my attention in a very real way the other day with my daughter, Evelyn. She’s 18 months old now and just getting comfortable with her own little will (little is probably the wrong word). As you can probably guess, her favorite word is “No” and she uses it to say almost anything you can imagine. “Do you want your food Evelyn?” “No.” “It’s time for bed Evie” “No.” “Can you come to Daddy, please?” “No.” “Is your name Evelyn?” “No.” “Daddy loves you, sweetie.” “No.” I think you get the picture.
Anyway, we were walking along the roads of RVA together, she and I, waiting for her brothers to come back from playing soccer with some of the big boys down at the field. I’m thinking, “What a nice (and rare) 5-minute window with my beautiful little girl. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hold hands as we walk?” She’s thinking, “No.” So I’m constantly trying to hold her hand as she stumbles over some of the rough spots and she’s constantly responding with her favorite word and pulling away.
And then comes the fall. You all knew it was coming.
A big rock right in her path that she steps on, turns her little foot and goes crashing headfirst. (why is it always headfirst??) Then the delayed cry. You know the one, where her face turns into the perfect blend of terror, rage, and pain, but no noise has emitted yet, and you’re concerned she might actually pass out before finally letting loose a blood-curdling scream that can be heard across Kenya. Immediately the tears start to flow and both arms go straight up towards me with the why aren’t you holding me yet? look and I scoop her up and her head falls to my shoulder.
Seconds ago, she didn’t need me, didn’t want to hold my hand, didn’t think it was necessary to walk carefully or follow any advice I might offer, now she clings to me for dear life and finds the comfort she knew she could count on. Daddy’s girl :)
How often do I walk along on my own strength? How often do I say “No” to God when he offers his daily grace and strength and provision? Yet how quickly I run to Him the minute something goes wrong.
My prayer life is atrocious, my devotions are often rushed, my reliance on His daily power is too often in word only while in reality I push through my checklist without more than a glance in His direction. Evie reminded me of how ridiculous it is for me only to run to my Heavenly Father when I’m hurt or in trouble or have a really pressing prayer request to bring before Him. Why not dwell daily in His presence? Why not lean on Him and talk to Him and give Him my burdens like He’s asked? His hand is out, asking for me to hold it – why not take it?
Praise God that He loves me anyway. Praise God that there is no condemnation for me in Christ Jesus. Praise God that He listens even when I only come to Him with the hard stuff. Praise God that His hand reached out to me way before I ever reached back. Praise God that His love through Christ separates my stubbornness and my hard-heartedness and my attraction to self-sufficiency as far as the East is from the West, that nothing can separate me from His love (including myself!) or snatch me out of His hand, and that if He is for me nobody of any consequence can be against me. Praise God that He is such an awesome Heavenly Father!!