“Mikey, don’t stand on Maddie’s stroller. Mikey, step down. Michael, now!” He looks at me and steps up higher and higher, until he starts to lose balance. When I see the stroller tip backward and Mikey slam on to the ground, my heart drops. If only he listened.
His sad eyes look up at me. Through the tears he asks, “Mommy, why? Why did I fall? Why did you let me Mommy?”
I want to grab him and yell, “Because I told you to get down. Why didn’t YOU listen to me?” But instead I say, “I am sorry you fell. I love you, little Mikey. It is important to listen to mommy. I am watching out for you when I tell you things. I want you to be safe.” I give him a hug.
How often are we like Mikey? How often do we push the boundaries just a little bit more? We think, I can get away with this – I’ll be ok. We want to do things our way. We fool ourselves. We think God isn’t watching. We think he won’t punish us. We think we can work our way around consequences with a little smart thinking. We think that grace will just entirely cover us, so we are okay. But, even though by grace we are secure in heaven and with God, consequences to our actions do arrive. When they do, like Mikey, we often look up at God and say, “Why God? Why did this happen? Why did you allow it?”
In many ways, we never grow up. We are on the verge of tipping over our own life strollers because, in the moment, it feels worth it. We step up, just a little higher, right to the very edge. Why? Because, many times, we view God’s commands as restrictions – rules – set in place to hold us back from fun, pleasure or relief. These “rules” rain on our parade. We step up a little higher on our strollers; we take the risk. Let’s see what happens!
Then, we down we fall. We fall flat on our face and we feel hurt. Like Mikey, we tend to miss the point of parental guidance entirely.
God lovingly, laid down directions for our lives to keep us in areas of safety. He doesn’t want us to drive into places of fear, pain, and consequence. He gives us a roadmap, so we can drive with an idea of where we are headed. With this, we know exactly how to get there and what is involved. He informs us of the places we shouldn’t venture. Why? Because we may get hurt, we may encounter bad people or we may get stuck. We may even miss our destination entirely if we go our own way. His directions are not given to demand his way, like an authoritarian dad. His directions keep us from pain, shame, guilt and regret. Even more, they are to offer us joy, fulfillment and purpose as we trust him.
He offers us the route to help us in our commute because he loves us. If only we would actually see it this way. We see his commands as rules, he sees them as tools. Tools to help us, to guide us and to keep us in places of contentment, peace and purpose.
When we drive within the lines of the boundaries he has set, we will find safety. We will live lives that are focused and purposeful. As a result, we will effectively love God and love others more because we are not walking around as hurt vessels. We are walking as loved children who are protected and secure in the path that God has set before us.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:25)
God has perfect directions, or laws, for our lives. Let’s keep our strollers upright as we walk hand in hand with God towards the destinations he has set before us.