Yesterday at breakfast, my oldest son had the sniffles. Prone to drama, and with the energy and vigor expected of a sinewy seven-year-old boy, he doubled over and raised up with every sniff. Repeatedly, he threw back his head and collapsed on the table with a force that could incapacitate a grandparent. In short, he was fine.
But he sighed and groaned and slouched and barely picked at his breakfast, and his ten-year-old sister Livi said, “Mom, Jonah needs to go to the doctor.”
My wife replied, “Oh, I know he’s feeling lousy. You’re sweet to look out for him, but I think he’ll be fine. He’s just waking up.”
Jonah gained courage by his sister’s concern. The sniffles became powerful inward blasts, punctuated by more pitiful prostration.
And after another moment, the ten-year-old said again, this time with strength, “MOM, Jonah NEEDS to go to the DOCTOR.”
Amy and I looked at Livi, and then at each other. Of course, Jonah did not need a doctor. The ten-year-old, having realized that she is old enough to understand some things, had forgotten that she is still a child.
I gape and shake my head in wonder at her presumption, because I forget that is exactly how I am with God. I would do much better to recognize the kinship I have with my children in this matter. It would help make me a more patient parent and a more willing child of God.
It is so easy for someone with the advantage of age to see the silly mistakes of the young, and that truth makes me shudder at the fierce clarity with which God must see my life of misadventures. How much more ridiculous must I seem to God, having deceived myself, so much more than a ten-year-old, with my shallow wisdom and understanding.
But that brings the teeth to the tail, because even at my most foolish and peacocky, God loves me perfectly. He has come to me and has made his home in me. He puts his feet up and gets comfortable and waits for me to listen, like a father waits for his child.