“He replied, ‘Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” Luke 11:28
When my son was about 4, my kids and I were enjoying an evening in the front yard. The neighbors came out of their house next door to water their plants, and my son ran full-speed across our yard and theirs to talk to some of his all-time favorite people. Now, let me stop the story right there to add some key facts:
~My son loves to wear flip-flops on his feet. I don’t often let him, because let’s just say the agility train doesn’t stop at his station. As a matter of fact, he is EXTREMELY clumsy!
~It was (for some unknown reason) a habit at this age for said child to be trotting along and walk right out of said flip-flops, leaving them abandoned in the most inconvenient places for me to trip over later.
~I had tripped over no less than 43,587 deserted flip-flops in just one summer, so I was especially sensitive about this topic.
~I had suggested, warned, cajoled, pleaded, and threatened that this ridiculous habit stop every time I had a near-death experience tripping over the stinkin’ things!
Okay, resume story.
My precious little boy goes running full speed across two yards—THWAP goes one flop—step step—THWAP goes the other. In the blink of an eye, both shoes lay forsaken in the vast expanse of the neighbors’ grass as he gallops on, barefoot. Parents, I’m sure you’ve never felt this way, but as it turns out, it’s the 43,588th time of my child’s misbehavior that sends me right over the edge. It had been bubbling up all summer, and the eruption was imminent. And boy, did I erupt! “YOU GET RIGHT BACK HERE AND GET THESE SHOES ON YOUR FEET—NOW!!”
Screeeech!!! My boy puts on the brakes and slowly turns my direction. He walks toward the shoes, picking one up, then the other. Then, he calmly puts them back on his feet and starts walking toward the neighbors, hands up in surrender, 4-year-old self muttering, “Okay okay. Now I know how you feel about leaving your shoes in the neighbors’ yard. You no like it.”
For heaven’s sake! I had been harping on him for months about this, and not only does he act like it’s the first time he’s ever heard this news, but I’m pretty certain I now look like the neighborhood lunatic. The “Get off my yard, you crazy kids!!” kind.
It’s funny the point to which our kids drive us sometimes. My son wasn’t trying to be disobedient. He just gets so caught up in the moment that he loses track of everything except his immediate goal. I can kindly and sweetly remind him over and over and over of something, but he doesn’t stop and listen, so it takes a bone-jarring command to get his attention. But as I think about it, I tend to wonder if God has played out this same scenario with me on more than one occasion (albeit with way more patience than I showed). I’m headed full-tilt toward my immediate goal in my life, whatever that might be at the time, and because I think it’s right, I am at full-speed with laser focus. But how many times has God tried to warn me that what I’m doing is not HIS will? Your effort is great, He may be saying, but you’re headed in the wrong direction. Stop and listen, I have instructions!
And sometimes, if I still won’t listen, God might have to give me a bone-jarring wake-up call to make me stop. Maybe the job or house I wanted fell through. Maybe the door was closed on an opportunity I had been working hard for. Maybe the dryer broke down the same day I was booking my tickets to Tahiti! And it’s not because God doesn’t love us. Not at all! It’s BECAUSE He loves us so much that He has to stop us before we hurt ourselves or someone else. Just like I would jerk my child back from the path of an oncoming car. Or maybe just teach him to pick up his belongings before someone trips on them. It’s BECAUSE I love him and I only want what’s best for him, and I know the pain or discomfort, whether from a physical sting or just a stinging ego, is necessary to prevent disaster.
There are so many reasons God allows things in our lives, and I can’t even begin to guess why He does. It’s not my job to know. But when something stops me in my tracks, I have to take time to ask why. And not in a “Why me??” posture, but a posture of humility, telling God “I’m listening now. What do you want me to hear?”
Thank you, God, for loving me enough to keep me on the right track, and for letting me know when I stray. I pray that I will always listen for Your voice to know when I’m in your Will, or when “you no like it!” In Jesus’ name, Amen.