Tuesday, March 07, 2006

We Are Children

“Mama, can we play with this game?” asked the little girl one morning.

“No,” her mama replied, “you haven’t cleaned up the mess that you made in your room. No new messes until you’ve cleaned your room."

But there were other rooms and other messes to play with, and nobody likes to clean their room. So it wasn’t until supper time that mama finally said, “Girls, it is time to clean your room NOW.”

And so two little girls climbed the stairs and started “cleaning” their room. It is easy to get distracted, however, by all of the fun things that the mess consists of. Eventually their games took them back downstairs and mama asked, “Did you girls clean your room?”

“Yes Mama! It’s clean!” they assured her. And to be fair, they had worked at cleaning their room, and they did feel that it was “clean enough.”

“Alright then, I’ll take my broom upstairs to sweep the floor for you,” she told them. “Anything on the floor that I sweep up, I’m going to throw away.”

“Oh no, Mama! You won’t throw away my Barbie house, will you?” Please Mama! Don’t throw away my Polly Pockets!” they protested.

Now the cleaning began in earnest and soon the floor was cleaned and swept. Mama went back to cooking supper and the girls went back to their play. Suddenly, what had almost happened sank in, and the oldest girl ran through the kitchen, crying.

Her mama followed her and asked her what was wrong. She sobbed, “You said you were going to throw away my toys! Why did you do that? It made me sad!”

I listened to my friend gently explain to her daughter that it is her job as mama to teach her girls to take care of their things, and to clean up their messes. And while she knew that it sometimes made them sad, it was still her job to teach them.

Now, we have to stop a moment so that I can say that it was one of those moments when I, not being a mother, was awestruck at how my friends are such good mothers. I can’t imagine doing this so well!

But the light bulb that went off in my head had to do with a conversation that this mother and I had recently. She is going through hard times right now. Her husband is sick, she’s due to have a new baby any day, and all of the simple things that we all take for granted are just HARDER. They are scared and sad and unsettled.

As we discussed this, we tried to lighten the mood (as we do) and laughed that this is “another stinking growth experience.” We’ve all had them, we all hate them, and we decided that, sure, it may build our character, but we’re not that unhappy with our character. Obviously, it could be better but we could get by at our current level, thank you very much.

Now listening to her daughter’s complaint that she did not like her lesson, I realized that WE are the children. We were complaining that we don’t like the lessons our Heavenly Father is teaching us. We’ve been playing in our rooms and having a fine time. We’ve made some messes, but we’ve tried to clean them up and now we would really like to not have any more lessons.

But while we’re playing in our room, and times are good, it’s easy to put God in a box. Sure, we’re thankful that He took care of our salvation, and takes care of us and will bring us to be with Him – but look at how good a job we’re doing taking care of ourselves, taking care of others, we’ve got a job, a nice car, all the good things. God takes care of the church stuff, and we take care of the rest.

It’s like the “Footprints” poem. You know, the one where there are two sets of footprints in the sand, and where there is only one set, that is where God carries us through hard times? That’s not right!! There is always only one set of footprints – God always carries us. It is our own imagination that sees times when we walk along as God’s companion; that there are times when we don’t need Him to carry us.

We never seem to learn that lesson. The lesson which is not that we should stop making messes, or that we have to try harder to clean them up, but the lesson that God has already cleaned up our mess. All of our messes. We don’t have to clean them up – we CAN’T clean them up. The beautiful gift of this lesson is that we don’t have to be grown-ups who take care of ourselves and we don’t have to be whiney kids who don’t like our lessons. We are little babes, lovingly carried in our Father’s arms. We have a cross to cling to. Always.


Anonymous said...

Good post. The tough times never seem to end, but then neither does God's grace, love and mercy. We need to be reminded of this often, and I'll put myself at the top of that list of one that needs that reminder.

Orycteropus Afer said...

Knitter, I found the link to you from Not Worthy a few days ago, as I was putting her in my blogroll. I'm glad I stopped to read your new post. I thought, with the "Footprints" illustration, that you might enjoy Buttprints in the Sand.

Also, I've just blogrolled you on Aardvark Alley and then will add you to the confessional Lutheran blogroll at Luther Library. I know that you'll also be listed at Ask the Pastor. We'd certainly appreciate links back to any or all of our blogs. For some of the reasoning as to how this benefits all of the confessional blogosphere, please check the two articles listed at the Alley under Aurous Effluence on "Building a Lutheran Presence."

Orycteropus Afer said...

I didn't want to give it away earlier, but as soon as I read this "line drive," I said, "Home Run!" Therefore, I offer this Golden Aardvark Aaward on behalf of a grateful confessional Lutheran blogosphere.