Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lessons From a Toddler

I spent most of yesterday with my dear friends B and A and their 2.5 yr old daughter who calls me Aunt Sarah. For a couple hours yesterday afternoon, I took Big Sister (baby will be here in a few weeks) to a park to play. As I spent time yesterday with this sweet, social, energetic toddler, several things she said and did caused me to think about the similarities between toddlers/their parents and Christians/the Lord.

1) "I do it" - sometimes when Big Sister wanted to do things by herself, I let her, as long as it would not harm her. Sometimes, though, despite her protests, I needed to either help her or do it for her, in order to keep her safe.

I am desperately independent, which is sometimes good. Many times in my life, though, that's gotten me into trouble. The Lord must oftentimes (even despite my protests) intervene and rescue me, for my protection and for His glory.

2) Independence/obedience - B said a couple times yesterday that Big Sister's world is about to change and she knows it (not only due to baby coming, but also they are moving in 6 weeks)...Big Sister is generally well-behaved and obedient. B and A do a great job with her, even on days like today when her behavior in the late afternoon/evening betrayed her need for the nap she missed earlier in the day. She tested her limits several times and sometimes did not obey Mommy and/or Daddy. There were consequences of her actions; her correction was always proportional to the offense and administered in love.

Isn't that just like God? Frequently I test my limits in the sense of trying to do things my way instead of seeking His will. Many times my sin gets in the way...His correction (much like B and A's of Big Sister) is made out of His love for me and His desire for me to become more like Christ.

3) Safe in Daddy/Mommy's arms - Big Sister loves to "dance" (this consists of running around the chair in the middle of the family room) to music...she was in heaven on earth when Daddy would swing her around and twirl her...the look on her face was one of utter delight and safety. Mommy would have done this same thing with Big Sister, had Mommy not been 8+ months pregnant!

I can't tell you how many times the picture of a baby/child perfectly content in their parent's arms reminds me of how the Lord longs for me to be content in His loving arms. There is truly no safer, more delightful place to be than in the center of His plan and purpose for my life...which I can only know and rest in by seeking Him and clinging to His strength.

As I mentioned in the "Empty Arms" posts (below), in my heart I know that God longs to cradle me even more than I desperately long to cradle my own child. One of the decisions I made earlier this week on the beach is that no matter how long it takes, I will wait for God to provide me the desires of my heart.

I have oftentimes heard and even quoted myself Psalm 37:4,“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart." (NASB) What exactly does that mean? Some people believe (I don't) that this means whatever we want, God will give us. God is not a vending machine. He is sovereign and I am not; He is omniscient and I am not; He knows what's best for me and I do not. So, what does this verse have to say about the desires of MY heart (i.e., marriage/motherhood)?? I am not a theologian, but I know and have sat under the teaching of several during my life. I believe that Psalm 37:4 means in my life that God will either 1) give me a husband and a child or 2) change my desires.

Perhaps that's simplifying things too much (I am a simple person)--I don't mean to be flippant...I just know that God knows best. He knows my heart, and He knows also how my life can best bring Him that in singleness and childlessness or marriage and motherhood. I do not for one moment begin to understand how that works, so I won't even pretend I do. What I DO know is that God has never failed me yet, and His Word and the affirmation of the Holy Spirit within me tells me that I can trust Him. So I am doing the very best I can to trust Him, even in this hardest region of my life.

One of my favorite professors at Dallas Seminary (DTS), Dr. Tom Constable (see 'verse-by-verse' link on the sidebar) says this about Psalm 37:4:

“Those who take delight in the Lord will receive their hearts' desires. The righteous who delight in the Lord will want to see His will done, and that will happen eventually for them.”—Dr. Thomas Constable, Notes on Psalms

The subject of God's will is too immense for this post (or any other, probably!)...but as I said, I do know that the Lord will accomplish what He intends to in my life...and I am trying to NOT GET IN HIS WAY!

So that's why I think we Christians aren't much different than toddlers - we're just a little taller (usually!)

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