One of the best lessons I ever learned about God was from my daughter when she was only two years old. I had been trying to teach her to keep her sippy cup in the kitchen instead of bringing it into the den where it could have easily spilled on the carpet. She was never a defiant child, but for some reason she decided to test the limits on this one little issue. Each time she would cross over from the tile to the carpet, I would meet her there, take her cup away, pop her hand (yes, that’s terrible, I know…but hold on), and I would lead her to her little chair in the kitchen. She was perfectly able to see the television from there, so she was not in danger of missing one single episode of Teletubbies.
For a short period of time, this became our routine: I would give her juice, direct her to her chair, walk into the den to clean or whatnot, she would eventually cross the forbidden threshold, I would see her and walk over, take the cup, pop her hand (which she tried to hide behind her back), lead her back to her chair where she would dutifully sit in compliance until the next time. It was a test of wills, I tell you. But then one day something happened. One day Haylee did something different that softened my heart in a profound way, and not just towards her but towards God as well.
One day she saw me walking towards her with a stern look on my face, and she bowed her head in defeat and poked out her lip. But what she did next was what surprised me. Instead of hiding her hands behind her back, she lifted her little hand up to me with her palm up ready for me to pop it. When I saw that, my heart melted. Rather than popping her hand, I kissed it instead. She may have defied me, but knowing her punishment, she obeyed. And in her obedience, she found mercy.
I honestly believe with all my heart and from that moment on that that is how God see us–as His children. He knows the path He wants us to follow, yet we tend to rebel against His guidance. Why? Because we have a mind of our own; because we have free will. So He disciplines us. And I believe He does so gently. We may perceive it as harsh, but in all reality it could be worse. Regardless, it’s not so much our circumstances that we should focus on. Rather, it’s our reaction. How so? If we focus on our circumstances, our circumstances will overwhelm us. If we focus on His direction or His correction, we will be more focused on Him. In the midst of a storm, don’t ask, “Why are you allowing this, Lord?” Instead, thank Him for the trials and tribulations He has sent your way. Thank Him for walking with you through the valley instead of keeping you on the mountaintop. There is a purpose there, and the purpose is to draw you closer to Him and to refine you as silver (Psalm 66:10). So don’t rebuke His discipline. Welcome it. Don’t hide your hands behind your back, hoping to prevent Him from popping them. Give Him your hands in obedience. That’s where you’ll find His mercy. Quit saying, “I don’t deserve this, Lord. Why are you doing this to me?” Instead say, “You know better than I.” Will this shorten your walk through the valley? Only time will tell. But what it will give you is peace along the journey. I have no doubt.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)
by Janet Robinson © 2013