“Arya, I told you to throw away your leftover banana when you were done with it. But instead, I see it on the floor. Go pick it up and throw it away.”
“But I don’t want to.”
“I don’t care if you want to; go do it anyways.”
“Because someone’s going to slip on it and get hurt if it stays on the floor. Because it’s making the floor sticky with banana mush, which I will now have to clean up. Because we need to take care of our house by throwing our trash in the trash can where it belongs. Or we could just leave it at, BECAUSE I’M YOUR MOM AND I’M TELLING YOU TO DO IT NOW!”
Arya is my 3 year old, by the way. 3 years old and constantly challenging me on every. single. thing. She’s challenged me on everything since I was pregnant with her, actually. I often affectionately refer to her as ‘my pain in the butt child’. The other two aren’t angels though; I am constantly being asked ‘why’. “Why do I have to put my dirty clothes in the hamper?” “Why do I have to eat my broccoli to get dessert?” “Why can’t we buy fruit snacks all the time?” “Why do I have to hold your hand in the parking lot?” “Why do I have to wear my helmet if I’m staying in the driveway?” “Why can’t I sit on the top of the chair back?” “Why can’t I stand on the kitchen counter?”
Why, why, why.
It’s so exhausting having to constantly explain myself. Having to constantly justify our rules to these tiny tyrants who don’t understand and just want to do what they want when they want to do it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve yelled in exasperation, “BECAUSE I SAID SO!” I mean, I’m just trying to keep these ingrates alive and well nourished, while teaching them the important lesson of taking care of the things you’ve been entrusted with (I.E. how to pick up after themselves). Why can’t they just trust me instead of always challenging me?
Yet even though those of us who are parents understand all too well this frustration of raising children, we turn around and do the exact same thing to God. All too often we question God’s rules when we don’t understand them. When we do this, it’s just as hurtful to God as it is to us when our children question our motives, momentarily choosing to believe that we suddenly don’t have their best interests in mind after all. When I think about the rage that fills me from time to time when dealing with my own little insubordinate children, I honestly cannot fathom how God hasn’t just given up on us already. I know that if I were in His position, I would have been so done with people a couple generations into creation.
Thankfully, I am not God, and neither are any of you. Thankfully, we have the most patient of fathers, who puts up with our whining and our questions and our lack of faith. God loved us enough to let His Son die in our place; so why do we question His motives when we come across a rule we don’t understand? Why are we so arrogant that we honestly think we have some right to understand everything? How do we convince ourselves that it’s okay to treat the Bible like some kind of spiritual buffet, picking and choosing only what we feel comfortable with? This practice completely renders faith inconsequential, because it doesn’t take any faith to follow our own instincts and feelings. It takes faith to follow God wholeheartedly, because it requires doing things that you don’t understand while being persecuted for it, with no rebuttal except, “God said to do it, so I am”.
Obeying God’s rules does more than just give Him the authority He deserves, it shows that we love Him. The same way our children prove their love for us when they (occasionally) do as we tell them, regardless of whether they understand why the rule is in place to begin with. They learn to follow our rules anyways, because they trust that we love them and know what’s best for them.
How much do we miss out on when we are stuck in the muck of our own stubbornness? I pray that we may all find the faith to follow God without question.
After all, how can we expect our children to give us the respect we deserve, if we aren’t giving God the respect He deserves?