In the past year since my son was born, there have been several moments a day when he just doesn’t get it. Whether it’s trying to stick his finger in a power outlet, to play with the toilet bowl cleaner, or to grab for his dirty diaper while I’m changing him, his impulses seem to constantly lead him astray.
Then, of course, there’s the daily feeding battle. My wife or I will work very hard to prepare a meal that he will enjoy and that will be full of nutrition. I put him in his high chair, snap his tray into place, and sit across from him with his food. Depending on what it is, he might let me feed him a few bites. Anything sweet is welcome, and pretty much anything else is not. (As a side note, his sweet tooth has allowed my wife and I to sneak spinach, kale, and broccoli into his diet via smoothies.)
But, before long, he starts fussing. Maybe he decides to spit the food out. Or, he’ll stick his fingers into the bowl and make a mess. Or, his favorite form of protest is to insist on seizing control of the entire operation and take the spoon out of my hand. While he’s improved at feeding himself, the process is entirely inefficient, with over half the food he lucked onto his spoon slopping all over himself, his tray, and the floor. Things would be much smoother if he just trusted that I knew what was best for him and I knew what I was doing.
“He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” (Luke 12:22-24)
How often do we insist on wrestling control of our lives away from God? And, like a helpless child that cannot feed himself, the only control we ever gain is a mere illusion. I cannot tell you how often I have tried to feed myself, so to speak, rather than trust that God will lead me to something better than I could ever imagine.
“I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:18-21)
When everything we taste is sweet, it is easy to see how much God loves us. But, when life is trying to shove cold broccoli down our throats, we can’t help but protest and cry for control. We think, “surely I can make things better!” Little do we know that sometimes those hard times can be nutritious to our souls, strengthening us for challenges ahead and teaching us how to love.
I had one such example recently. About a week ago, I had a dream in which I was a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. I don’t really remember the details other than that I was being held in someone’s arms and comforted. When I would bawl, this person explained how everything was meant to be this way with such sound logic that my rational mind could not help but agree and feel comforted. But then, I would remember my mother was gone. And I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life apart from her. So, I would lunge out of this kind person’s arms in an attempt to reach my mother, as if I could, and that would restart the entire process of calming and explaining all over again.
In my grief, I realize that often I feel like that toddler. I know that “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose,” (Romans 8:28) and I have seen so much love come out of the loss of my mother that I do see and feel how that verse is true. But, like a child being torn away from his mother’s arms, even if just for a few hours, my heart cries out to be with her, and no amount of logic or reason can change that. Only love and God’s grace can.