“Grace, let’s put your jacket on, it’s cold out.”
“NO!” the angry three-year-old voice punctuated.
“Ok, but you are going to be cold.”
No sooner had we got out the door the wind cut through her little body and out came a bone chilling scream… “I need a jacket!!!!”
Doug picked her up as she cried. “Didn’t we tell you it would be cold and you needed a jacket? But you said ‘No!’” Gracie’s little lip protruded out as she nodded. “What does that mean, Gracie? Does that mean you should listen to your Mama and Daddy?” She nodded her little head again and whined out in frustration, the kind of frustration that says: “I hate it when you’re right… but you’re right–I need my jacket!”
“Next time what are you going to do Gracie?”
“I’m’a put on a jacket!” she whines. I pull the jacket out of my “mommy bag” and help her into it.
This is just one in a series of similar events of Life with Grace these days. We tell her something she needs, she rebels in her demand to control… and then comes the consequences of her rebellious “NO!” Along with the: “OOOPS! Darn-it! Should have listened to my parents”! Then comes the crying, whining, and the plea to go back to the choice she ought to have made to begin with.
You’d think this process would be frustrating and maddening for a parent, but in fact I find it rather fascinating. And yes, I have caught myself on many occasions sounding a lot like my mother as those famous words; “Listen to your father!” have popped out of my mouth.
Does she get it? Is she learning? You better believe it. It is a consistent persistent work to raise a child, but worth every effort. Every time Grace is forced to feel the effects of her choices and we talk to her about it, even at only three years old, you can see the wheels clicking and the connections being made. It will probably take a while before she gets the complexity of understanding the connection between all the diverse occasions of these incidents, but she is putting together “like incidents.” For example, she doesn’t question Daddy anymore when he says she needs a jacket! Amazing… Amazing Grace.
While I am amazed at this process in Gracie, I am even more so amazed at it in my own experiences. In my walk with the Father I can think of one too many times He has made clear what I needed… and one too many times I punctuated a rebellious “NO!” and insisted on doing it “my way” under “my power” and “my control.” In the words of Dr. Phil “How was that working for me?” Mmmmmmm… not so much! And yet, I have found in each instance when I have chosen my way, felt the enormous consequences of it, admitted I was wrong, and begged the Lord to save me from myself… to pull my “jacket” out of his “Daddy-bag,” He has redeemed the situation every time. EVERY time. Amazing. Amazing grace.
There is a reason the Bible continuously refers to us as the “sheep” and Jesus as the “shepherd.” We might not like to admit it— but we are a lot like dumb little sheep. We often lose our way and get ourselves trapped onto precarious cliffs needing to be saved.
One of my atheist students was appalled when I admitted to accepting this metaphor as a truth. “So you’re just a dumb sheep?” He asked incredulously.
I answered: “If there is a God who created the universe and everything in it, then it follows that His knowledge & wisdom far surpasses mine in a way not so different from how a shepherd’s knowledge and wisdom exceeds that of a sheep.”
He couldn’t argue with my logic. But what my student doesn’t realize is that this isn’t the only metaphor the Bible gives us about our relationship with God. Yes, we can be stupid sheep in constant need of rescuing, but the Bible also says we are God’s children. He is our Father. What do fathers do? Lovingly impart their guidance and wisdom to teach and grow their children up.
And I ask: Do we get it? Are we learning? You better believe it! We may not be a quick study every time, but the Lord is doing a consistent persistent work in each of us. Every time we are forced to feel the consequences of making the “MY” choice rather than following God’s direction the wheels are clicking, the connections are being made. As the Lord takes us to new levels we can see ourselves improving with “like incidents.” Just like Gracie is daily learning to heed the wisdom of her father, we too are learning to heed the wisdom of Our Father. No verse reminds us better of our need to heed than Proverbs 3:5-7a
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes.
Today I encourage you:
Need Him. Heed Him. Trust in His infinite wisdom. Let the Lord grow you up and raise you up. Stand on the promise of being confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion. (Philippians 1:6)