Every so often I feel like I have moments where something I thought I understood suddenly becomes so much more. Not just clearer, but more profound, important. As is the case for the past couple years, my epiphany has to do with my little one.
Most mornings there’s a certain amount of frenetic energy. Some mornings frenetic intensifies to frantic. Somehow with the same set of timelines for getting ready every day, I manage to pull a Back to the Future and cut things down to the wire.
Sometimes it isn’t my fault. Getting two people ready is indeed much harder than one, particularly when one is a preschooler. Varyingly my little one is an obstacle to readiness, passive observer to getting ready, or checked out altogether. Which I can understand, he’s a preschooler
What complicates things is that my stress level increases exponentially as our lateness grows, compounded by his resistance to doing what needs to be done. One morning though, he flipped all of that on its head.
We had reached that inflection point where we needed to go from hurry-out to sprint-to-the-car. My little one made his way to the car calmly, asking questions about this and that like normal. I tried to deflect them and remind him we needed to hurry. Open the door. Lift inside. Buckle up. As I was trying to buckle him in I had to stop. He was reaching for his trip bingo boards across the car. To put it into context, he loves those things and regularly does them even for very short trips. He also regularly ignores me when I tell him to sit back and let me buckle him up, no matter how often I assure that I’ll get them for him.
I reminded him again of this even as I was queuing up my well-used lecture on listening to parents. Then it happened.
“Okay, Daddy,” he said and sat back.
I took a beat to process what just happened. Buckled him in, got his bingo boards and then hugged him. It might have been a top 10 proud moments type thing. He had listened and did what I asked. He trusted I knew best and would take care of him. And he shamed me.
Not because I had doubted him. His past behavior had well seeded my expectations. I was ashamed because maybe for the first time in my life I really got the verse:
“And Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.’” –– 1 Samuel 15:22, ESV
That swell of euphoric pride I had, I suddenly imagined God’s pride as our Heavenly Father when we actually do what He asks of us. Unlike me, He’s all-knowing, so it doesn’t carry the same note of surprise. But the pleasure, the, “He finally listened!” victory parade in my heart? I can imagine that’s the same.
My shame also doubled. Because when I tell my son to get in the car, the stakes are low. We get to school on time, or we don’t. Not life changing. But when God tells me to do something, it is important. Every choice is a life-changing event, because each decision to obey is allowing God to mold me more in the likeness of His Son. To shape me into a vessel that can be useful for changing the lives of others.
So many times, I let my bingo boards–things I think I need and want–delivered immediately. “No, God I can’t do that until I have this!” Where it seems literally anything can be the “this” debilitating me to do God’s “that”. It always bears repeating God knows everything far better than I do:
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” — Isaiah 55:9, ESV
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” — 1 Corinthians 1:25, ESV
Just as I see a much bigger picture than my son. If nothing motivates me to obey in terms of life playing out more smoothly–I trip over my own intentions often enough–then knowing now the incredible joy and pleasure that comes from the trust and obedience from my son, I long to make my heavenly Father feel the same of me.