Monday, June 1, 2015

What my daughter taught me about God today

During the walk home from school, after an unusual burst of disobedience and hysterical tears, my daughter got sent to her bed when she got home. (Normally she'd be having lunch.)
The purpose of the time out was of course to get her to calm down and take a breath, relax a little while Mommy fixed sandwiches. But she didn't know that.
She thought she was being starved, and would miss lunch for her earlier tantrum which she knew she was in the wrong for. So she gathered up her courage, accepted her fate, and because she had a contrite heart wrote a note: "I'm sorry for disobeying. I'm sure you won't let me eat."
It was her way of saying, "I know what I did was wrong, and you were right to punish me in this way. The thing I did was so bad that it's fair that I got my food taken away, I won't make an excuse for it. I trust you to do this for my good, painful though it may be. I trust that whatever punishment you gives is right, and if I have trouble accepting it, then I need to get over it."

Her open admission is surprising (and sweet for drinking such a bitter draught), but her thought process isn't unexpected at all. It's all to predictable. Given the few words she had to go on she immediately deduced cruelty and sternness from Mommy, and then stoically accepted her fate as the just consequence, while all the while completely unaware it was just a brief time out to prepare her lunch and calm her down enough that she'd be in a position to eat and enjoy it. She assumed the discipline would last forever, when in actuality it was only a few short minutes. She assumed torture when it was a respite. Because she looked to her past conduct she missed the affection and attention that's always there for her, even when she's not aware of it or doesn't think she deserves it.

The anecdote is so perfect I hardly need to draw the point out explicitly. How much is God like this to us? An assumption of His sternness toward us, as if our fate is a bitter pill that must be swallowed with resignation! All the while we have a loving father with a surprise in store for us if only we could calm down enough to look forward to it.

Kids are a wonderful instructor in theology. The Scriptures aside, there's nothing like it for practical understanding of God and His nature.

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