I don’t have any children of my own, but I notice that God seems to like to impart lessons to me by way of children.
This blog has two lessons I learned just moments apart. It was last summer after a full day celebrating the Fourth of July with several Christian musical artists at a packed stadium followed by fireworks. I joined my friend and blogging partner Destinee and her family for a meal before heading home.
It was very late and we were all getting tired, but were hungry and I think the parents concluded that stopping for a meal was simpler at that point than feeding the kids at home. We settled on the International House of Pancakes as our eatery of choice for that late evening.
We were seated around three sets of tables against a wall. One side had booth seats with the opposite side housing chairs. Three adults and four children went to work poring through the menu selecting the most decadent pancakes possible.
“I want a ‘Funny Face’ pancake.” Shayla declared.
There were so many delectable selections such as Belgian Dark Chocolate Mousse pancakes, Cupcake pancakes, even New York Cheesecake pancakes. The funny thing is I can’t remember for sure what I got, but Desi’s husband, Chris got the Mexican Tres Leches pancakes. I remember because he let me taste them and they were amazing – better than my selection, which I think was the Vanilla Spice pancakes.
Destinee helped the younger two children make their picks from the kid’s menu. Nehemiah, the youngest and just over 2 years old at the time, was infatuated with all the syrups and had to be constantly pulled back from the syrup caddies containing a multitude of flavored syrups – blueberry, strawberry, plain, butter, etc.
The restaurant was especially cold with the air conditioning blasting frigid air. Even I felt cold and I’m almost always warmer than everyone else. The children all complained of the cold and their father was able to retrieve extra tee shirts from his car that he passed out. The kids bundled up in the oversized tees seeking warmth. The server got the A.C. reduced and we began to warm up as we tucked into our meals. After our appetites were satisfied fatigue began to hit the children harder as we were in the process of getting checked out with the server.
It was about this time that Shayla loudly declared, “I’M COLD!”
Destinee replied, “We know.”
Her complaint grated against the comfort and satiation of full bellies. It was still cool in the restaurant, but we were preparing to leave and there was nothing more to do. We all knew it was cool, but extra layers had been provided, the air conditioning lessened and the time in the restaurant almost over.
And it hit me. I do this with God. When I have a problem and God doesn’t remove it, this is what I do. He has lessened the pain and provided comfort, but the problem, the discomfort remains, and I come to him to say –
“HEY!! I still have this problem and I’M UNCOMFORTABLE! I’M UNHAPPY THAT YOU HAVEN’T REMOVED MY DISCOMFORT!!!”
It made me think how I keep complaining to God sometimes because I think he must not have heard me or understood me since he has not removed my trouble. But the scripture promises that he hears our cries.
Psalm 116:2 Amplified
Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.
Psalm 18:6 NIV
In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
And it made me wonder if the tone of my complaint to Father God was as sour seeming and as discordant as Shayla’s gripe about the cold. I want to make sure that I also note that Shayla has many sweet moments where she expresses a tender, sensitive heart. I don’t want to make her out to be the bad guy, but it was a moment the Lord used to catch my attention about the attitude I can get with him. And it helped remind me that even when I feel like God must not have truly heard me or fully understood me, that how I feel isn’t as true as what God’s word promises.
Just as that happened Destinee had the two youngest children, one balanced on each knee. Honestly, her ability to carry/hold two children while directing the others and carrying on conversation is quite impressive to me. It’s a mom-thing I definitely don’t have.
She held Eli and Nehemiah, each on a knee. Sitting across from them I saw Eli’s face melt into woe and despair as he cried out in fear and concern, “I’m FALLING!”
Destinee barely skipped a beat, wasn’t frightened, wasn’t fearful as she confidently replied, “I’ve got you.”
Again, it was one of those moments I felt the Lord pull me out of time as he nudged me in the ribs with his elbow.
“Did you get that?” I hear the Holy Spirit prompt me.
All the times I feel out of control and spiraling downward, sure that I am plummeting to my demise and final failure, and the Father, sure and confident, says, “I’ve got you.”
But it doesn’t feel like it to me!
John 10:27-29 NIV
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.
Isaiah 43:11-13 NLT
I, yes I, am the Lord, and there is no other Savior.
First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the Lord.
“From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.”
Hebrews 13:5 b Amplified
For He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]
And I imagine my distress is as real as little Eli’s and Papa God’s confidence greater than Destinee’s. Destinee had no fear or concern that Eli was slipping. She was absolutely sure he wasn’t and that her grip on him was firm. I think maybe the key for me to remember is it isn’t always about how tightly I can hold onto God or feel his grip or sense his hold. It’s about how firmly he has me in his hand. It’s about the truth that he is not a man and he is incapable of lying. [Numbers 23:19] It’s about his promise to never let me go or let me slip out of his hold.