Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Simple Question...

Yesterday I had the incredible delight to spend almost the entire day with old friends. My college roomates came to see me and brought their children, two of whom I had never met! Meredith has two little ones under 17 months old - they are just beautiful and so sweet! Doodle adored baby James and held him as much as she could. Jenny brought her youngest, Corey, but the oldest had a birthday party at home. Corey was so much fun and it turns out that he and Mator have a lot of craziness in common.

While the kids were playing, they came across the marbles and as soon as I realized it, I asked Muffin to collect them all since Mere's two little ones are way too small. Meredith asked the question, "At what age can kids safely play with marbles?" To me, this is a much more generic question than it sounds like at first. Really, I think she was asking, "When can a child be trusted to make a good decision?"

My answer was simple, but I've been thinking about it since I said it. From the moment a child is born, every action they take is self serving. This works well for them as an infant-I am hungry so I will cry and someone will feed me. I am lonely so I will cry and someone will come to me. I want to know what that person's hair feels like so I will grab it. It is our job as parents to gradually train a child that it is best to put your impulsive desires to the side in order to make a good decision. We do this by demonstrating consequences and following through with our discipline. Everyone agrees that a child must learn to see a flame and think, "I wonder what that feels like but I know that I can't just touch fire."

So at some point, a child will begin to make 50-75% of their decisions based on what is the right thing to do, not just what their flesh tells them they want to do. My 2 1/2 year old Mator is there. She's OK to play with marbles not because there is no chance that she will put one in her mouth but because that chance is small and the reward for starting to make good decisions is that you get more opportunities in life.

My Pastor had a great message called "The Progressive Calling of God" this morning and it took me right back to this thought from yesterday. I realized that in a spiritual sense, there is a direct parallel between parents who are training and observing their child to see when he or she is ready to play with marbles and our heavenly Father who is teaching and guiding us to see when we are ready for "all the marbles".

As a new Christian, we have so much to learn but more important than how much Biblical knowledge you possess is what you do with that knowledge. In other words, my 2 1/2 year old knows that she is not supposed to put marbles in her mouth. But sooner or later, the thought will cross her mind, "What do those taste like? What would they feel like on my tongue?" I think it is pretty good for her to choose wisdom (I'm not supposed to put that in my mouth) over impulse (but I really WANT to!) 50-75 % of the time. But I won't be satisfied if she is eight and has the same percentage of good decisions. What about when she is 17 and out with her friends? I expect her to grow and mature and gradually increase those percentages.

How about as an adult? Pastor wrote, "Those truly called of God do not move at their own impulse. They move at the leading of the Holy Spirit." I feel quite certain that our Holy God expects a lot more than 50-75% of our life to be led my Him yet how many of our decisions are made by the flesh instead of the spirit? And the consequence? Our lives are shadows of what God desires for us.

As a parent, I gradually increase the level of responsibility my child is allowed in direct proportion to their demonstrated ability to make good decisions. Will God do any less? I pray that my life will be led by reverance for the God who created me and everything around me and that I might see the day where 100% of my decisions are made with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine if all of God's children were at that percentage?

1 comment:

BoufMom9 said...

This was a fantastic post. Very thought provoking. Thanks so much. i needed something to make me reflect :)