Charlie wasn’t listening again. It has seemed to be a huge pattern. So, while lying in bed about to read him a book I decided to ask him what would make him a better listener.
Jesus. He said.
Yeah (I said in a breath knowing what he said was deeply true), do you think you can ask Jesus to help you be a better listener?
Okay, why don’t you pray?
Dear God, thank you for this day, and have Jesus make me better. Amen.
And that was the first of many of the things that Charlie has taught me about Jesus. The faith of a child. So quick to know the answer, and not to second guess what that answer is.
But I do second guess a lot. I second guess because sometimes I can’t see the path He has before me, and sometimes because the path is just painful. And that brings me to the second thing that Charlie teaches me about Jesus.
Love Does Hard Things
I like pulled pork!
That is what Charlie told us after we had to put some boundaries around meal time. Dinner was getting to be a border line painful time at our house. It would take Charlie over an hour to have his dinner, and sometimes he would act like we were pulling his arm out when we tried to get him to finish. So, we decided to take the “tough love” approach and put a timer on for him, once the timer rang, we would take his food away. Now my child isn’t starving, he eats quite a bit during the day, but watching him cry when the timer went off was gut wrenching.
And it wasn’t any easier the next morning when he begged me not to take his food away when I gave him breakfast. I didn’t have to, but it was really hard on my heart.
And life can just be hard on the heart. Recently a friend of mine was telling me that she had to have a hard conversation with the pastor at her church to ensure the best safety for the children that attend the preschool she works at. This isn’t how things were supposed to go when God created man in the garden of Eden. But God loved us so much that He gave us the gift of choice. And we get the opportunity to choose love. Even when it is hard.
Love Is A Gift, But It’s Also A Choice
Speaking of gifts. When Jesus was born, the wise men brought gold, frankincense and, myrrh. Although these gifts held much significance one was the spiritual meaning. It was customary to honor a king with these items. Gold symbolizing kingship, frankincense representing a priestly role, and myrrh being an anointing oil. There is also interpretation that myrrh symbolizes death, and it also makes an appearance when Jesus is on the cross. Of myrrh’s many uses, it was customary to give those who were condemned by death by crucifixion myrrh mixed with wine because it acts as an anesthetic. Jesus is offered this mixture, but He refuses. He turns down something that would ease His pain.
How many times have you wanted to run away from the hard things? I would rather turn my back on the hard conversations, and hide when life gets overwhelming.
Love is hard, and with Charlie it would be really easy to just let him eat mac and cheese, and chicken nuggets for dinner every night (okay that isn’t the full range of foods that he will eat, but you get the point).
But seriously, yes this was tough on us, but exercising this tough love is nothing compared to what Jesus endured on the cross because of His love for us. Before going to the cross Jesus was praying to the Father that if there was any way to take the cup of suffering from Him, let it be, but nevertheless, the Father’s will be done. Here was Jesus again submitting to the will of His father, refusing something that would help take His own pain away.
Love, is a lot of times choosing to do what is hard.
We Can Trust The One Who Guides Our Steps
The third and final thing that I am going to share that my son teaches me is that when I follow His path, I can trust Him, and live expectantly that what He has before me is good.
Charlie loves trains. If trains could be a love language, that would be Charlie’s. Thomas the tank engine is his favorite.
Mike thought it would be a great idea to get Charlie tickets to a Thomas event for his 3rd birthday. We wanted this to be a special day just for him, and we kept this a secret from him for about 4 months, until it was time to give him his surprise. The whole day was special, beginning with getting munchkins from Dunkin Donuts (and of course coffee for mom and dad).
Every few minutes he kept asking us where we were going, and I am sure with the long car ride (1 hour and 15 minutes to be exact), he may have thought to himself that the surprise couldn’t be that good if he had to wait that long. But if he was having those thoughts, they disappeared the second we parked the car.
The surprise was a ride on a life-size Thomas the train, along with carnival rides, and other things that were train and Thomas related, but we had to take a school bus to take us to where the event was. Charlie sees the school bus, and is overly excited that he gets to ride the bus. I think he thought that was his big surprise, however the joy on his face when he saw the life-size Thomas is probably something I will never forget.
There were a couple of times during the day that he got scared, like when the train blew its whistle (in his defense it was really loud!), but most of the day he was on cloud 9 and his big adventure was well worth the wait!
Thomas and Jesus
Following Jesus can be a lot like this. Jesus tells us to follow Him, but we don’t really know where we are following him to. He says to be strong and courageous, but taking His lead can be scary. He says that He is the way, but the way doesn’t seem that great. And we know He has a plan, but the wait is so long.
We knew that Charlie was going to love his surprise because we know our son. We know his likes, and we know his dislikes, and he took every step in anticipation of what was before him.
Even though Charlie didn’t know where we were taking Him, he also knew he could trust us. I heard the quote recently “God doesn’t give us a spotlight, he gives us a lamp”. I will be honest that sometimes I can wish that God really did give me a spotlight instead of a lamp.
However, in Him giving us a lamp where we can only see one or two steps ahead, He also gives us the opportunity to put our trust in Him beyond what we can see.
God knows the desires of your heart, in fact He put them there. He remembers the promises He spoke to you, and He knows the uncertainty and fears that will invade the way. He knows that with every step you take in child-like faith and anticipation, you get closer and closer to what He has before you.
From My Heart to Yours…
So Beautiful One, remember that Jesus is the answer, love even when it is hard, and take every step knowing that you follow a good Father.
We would love to hear what your children have taught you about Jesus. Would you share a story with us?