Two stories from last week’s family vacation serve as great illustration for our relationship with God.
Kids are always rich for story, right?
Our soon-to-be four-year-old daughter and I arrived at the beach with everything in hand to make sandcastles and have fun burying our feet in the fluffy, Gulf Coast Florida sand. Everything, that is, except for a beach chair. At our location, the management provides an abundance of chairs near the top of the beach. They only need to be dragged down to the spot you want to use them.
“Can you help me drag this chair to the spot where you want to build a sandcastle?”
“Sure!” I was empowering her to choose the location but also trying to give her some measure of responsibility in the process.
Together we tugged the chair towards the ocean. “Stay in step with daddy and it won’t be so difficult to drag the chair down,” I encouraged. “Okay.” Her reply was both compliant and heartwarming. Side by side, we dragged the chair to the site on the beach she felt would make the perfect spot.
Now you and I both know who was doing most of the dragging. To her, however, I had made her an equal partner in the venture. As long as she walked alongside me and kept pace with me, the task was easy for her.
And so it was.
The second story didn’t turn out nearly so well. Towards the end of our vacation, something hadn’t gone her way. Honestly, I don’t remember the details. All I remember was the defiant “no!” that is so common to preschool children. Because it was playing out in an otherwise quiet public building, I firmly took her hand and told her we would walk out to the parking lot and, if necessary, to our car for her to finish having her tantrum.
The tantrum persisted all the way out the door, through the parking lot and into our car. Along the way, there were many times she attempted to either jerk her hand from mine, stop walking or walking in an alternate direction from the direction I was traveling. “Honey, if you don’t keep step with daddy, you’re only going to get hurt more because I’m not letting go of you.”
My pace and direction remained unchanged, despite the numerous times she resisted. Had she stayed in step with me, it would have been less painful. But her own pulling in a different direction only resulted in more negative consequences.
How many times have we failed to realize the positive benefits of staying in step with our heavenly Daddy? Likewise, how many times have we failed to realize the painful consequences of refusing to stay in step with Him? Whether we attempted to run ahead of him, lag behind him or pull to the left or right, much of the pain we experience may well be our attempts to pull in a direction different from the direction we’re being lead for our benefit and ultimate good.
In the coming weeks, I plan to share a few excerpts from my forthcoming book, Unburdened: The Christian Leader’s Path to Sexual Integrity. I’ll begin with this idea of living the unburdened Christian life, which turns out to be a little different than most of us want or expect it to be. Yet much of the power in the Christian life comes from this idea of staying in step with our heavenly Daddy.