Sunday, June 14, 2009

Yesterday we went to a birthday party and the kids had a blast (the pool being one big draw and the water balloon fight coming right after it!). All this fun made our sleep time considerably shorter than usual and the ripple effect of such late-night partying was felt throughout the family well into today’s afternoon. Our daughter was particularly on edge, her attitude hovering between grizzly bear approachability and paper-thin patience, especially towards her brother, whose reaction to being overly tired makes him exceptionally excitable and annoying, especially in relation to his sister. It didn’t take long before the keg of gunpowder and the match collided resulting into a World War I worthy explosion.

You need to change your attitude! Preached our seven-year old minister of condemnation at the top of his lungs into his sister’s ear.

I can’t change my attitude! Only God can change my attitude!
screamed my daughter back.

I decided it was time to intervene, so I walked out of the kitchen into the living room, sat in our lazy boy chair and propped up my legs.

Come. I said to my daughter, who was convulsing on the floor in a fit of out-of-control emotionality.

She briefly looked at me and then redoubled her screaming effort.

Come to me. I repeated quietly.

Why? She asked between the sobs.

Just to be with me. I responded gently.

I am already with somebody. She snorted, clutching her recently acquired stuffed penguin.

That’s O.K. Bring the penguin with you. Just come.

If I come, you will want to talk to me about my bad attitude!

I chuckled inside, thinking of all the sermons I have preached to my exhausted children, and shook my head.

No, I won’t talk about your attitude. I just want you to come and be with me.

I’ll come when I am done eating, chirped her older brother.

By this time the screaming has stopped, and slowly, suspiciously my daughter got on her feet and came. She crawled into my lap and I held her, and we just sat there… without a word… for quite a while. Bit by bit, her tense little body relaxed and her grip on the penguin loosened considerably. As we sat there, I thought of all the times when the same invitation has been extended to me, and the same excuses I offered to God – I don’t really need You, I already have my comforter – impotent though it may be; and I know You will ask me to give it up, and I don’t really want to; and I already know what You are going to tell me – that I am bad, bad, bad – and I don’t need to hear that because I already know that myself, all too well… All the while the Father keeps shaking His head and saying, Just come, My child, just come to Me… I love you… I want to hold you… I see beyond the madness and the screaming, beyond the addiction and bondage… beyond the badness and fatigue… Just come to Me… as you are… and find rest in My arms…
We’ve just returned home from church and the kids immediately engaged in their usual bickering, fighting and whining about their pitiful, deprived existence.

Hey, hey there! I yelled several notches above their current decibel level. What did they teach you in Sunday School today? I asked wondering if there might be a bridge I can create between Sunday morning lesson and Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday) afternoon application.

Our seven-year old, already know-it-all son shrugged indifferently. We were just talking about Moses. The times past, you know.

Times past, huh? So, what did you learn about Moses? I probed further.

Hmmm… we just talked about the time when they got really hungry, you know the story… his voice trailed off.

And? What did they do? Now, I definitely wasn’t dropping the subject. Didn’t they complain? And weren’t they whining? And arguing with Moses?

Yes! Yes!
Both of our kids cried out in unison.

Well, it sure doesn’t sound like “time past” to me. It sounds just like what you guys are doing right here, right now.

Their jaws dropped together with their smug “been there, done that, already- know-all-this-stuff” veneer. The Word of God suddenly lost its musty odor of the dust-covered dead stuff of the past, and started living, breathing afresh among us. The God who WAS dropped into our living room as the One who IS today, and as I looked at my children I thought how we all may have a lot more in common with those shaggy old characters wearing long robes than we care to admit.