We sit at the table together, books scattered and colors all around. Little brother “helps” as the girls and I do school.
“Find four mice and one cat. Then color them green.” I give the instructions and hand out the sheets. Then I repeat and wait.
“Can we color the grass?” Little Bit asks.
To answer her, I repeat the instructions.
Both girls find the animals and color them green. Then Little Bit reaches over to grab a blue crayon. She starts coloring the grass.
“Are you supposed to color the grass?” I ask her.
She puts the crayon down and looks at me hard. No, the instructions don’t include coloring the grass but she isn’t satisfied with those rules. She wants the grass colored. She looks at me like I’m depriving her of her rights, I’m the reason for her un-happiness, I’m a terrible mom that won’t lighten up.
Surely parenting this girl has brought out insecurity in me like never before. In a split second, I wonder….
“Is it really that important? Are following the instructions really a big deal? I mean, we’re supposed to be having fun…right? What if I’m teaching her to hate learning? Should she be treated differently because of her emotional hang ups? Am I being too hard? Should I really lighten up? What is the right thing?”
But I know that following directions is the foundation for learning and until we “get” this, we can’t truly receive anything worth having. We can’t learn how to read…we can’t learn math…we can’t learn how to build a lego ship or put a dollhouse together or follow a recipe to its delicious end.
Following directions carefully and closely is the key that unlocks the treasure chests of life.
Isn’t this why God tells us to obey?
Where did we get the notion that we obey because He is mean and wants our robot-like performance and will strike us dead if we don’t? He asks our obedience not because He’s tired of a messy world and wants somebody to help keep things orderly. It isn’t because His name and reputation are at stake so we. better. behave. pronto!
No, it is because careful and close adherence to His instruction is the path to life. Joy. Fullness. It’s because He’s jealous for us to have that life.
As Little Bit glares at me, I long for her to understand this. As it is, she thinks I’m a mean mommy. She completely misunderstands my intentions whenever I give her instructions. She still doesn’t know my character. She doesn’t trust my intentions.
The Whisper fills my inner places and I know it’s true, how His children do the same. We want to color in the grass because we think our lives look prettier that way, and really, what’s the big deal? Or so we think. We don’t understand that life’s greatest things come through carefully following His plan, His ways that are in such contrast with ours.
Things like forgiveness.
Like service and sacrifice and hidden-ness.
We would never color our own lives like that. And we will never learn advanced spiritual mathematics and practices without first learning to follow little, seemingly meaningless, instructions. “Don’t color the grass.” “Use a yellow crayon.” “Find the cat without a tail.”
How long will we continue believing that when He tells us “no” He’s just a big meany who wants us to suffer and who keeps good things from us?
Isn’t the opposite true? He tells us “no” because He wants us to learn to listen to His voice, trust His character, and move on to walking by faith through the spiritual realms. He wants us to live in the spiritual realm, a place we will never be able to understand, fathom, or live in apart from simple trust and obedience.
He wants us to stop our spiritual scribbling and start walking in the heavenlies.
He wants us out of Kindergarten.
We get there through following simple instructions.
I watch two daughters…one daughter is following instructions, learning letters, putting sounds together to make words; she will be reading soon. I see the other daughter glare at me every time I give the slightest command. She lags behind, mimicking sister but never really getting things for herself.
Which daughter am I, I wonder?
Which daughter are you?