September 13, 2014

The Pacifier

The little boy furrowed his brow, studying the brightly colored objects in front of him. Nearest his right fist was a red, wooden block, his left clutched a small, plastic train car, bright yellow with blue wheels. The motion of the blue wheels fascinated him and he spent considerable time rolling the car back and forth in slow strokes, studying the pattern of movement. Beyond the car, several other blocks and train parts rested in chaotic assortment on the coffee table. Looking up from his preoccupation with the train he suddenly thrilled with excited purpose. Rapidly thrusting his left hand in a jerking sweep backward he released the train car into a flying trajectory to a distant corner of the room. As it skidded onto the carpet he convulsed into ripples of laughter, looking into my face for approval as his smile stretched into well-accustomed happy dimples. He savored the moment only a second before reaching for the next closest item-- a triangular green wooden block. Smacking his lips together in a contented "bah, bah, mah" sound, he repeated the same movement, his giggles growing in intensity this time. He continued faster and faster. Toys shot in all directions to the tune of wildly happy laughter.

Within moments he had cleared the entire coffee table of its contents-- except for one thing, his pacifier. He stretched for it, but his little hands fell just short of reaching it. Undeterred, he hoisted himself onto his tippy toes, his brow furrowing again as he stretched the full length of his tiny-frame in a super effort to reach beyond his limits, but his protruding stomach, round and roly, high centered on the edge of the coffee table and forced him to lower himself back down to the floor in defeat. He began to vent his frustration with angry whimpers of distress, still reaching and stretching for the pacifier, his stress level rising with each futile pulse of his little arms.

I gazed at him in bemusement. I could see what he could not. The pacifier was perched on the outer ledge of the table just opposite from him at the widest curve of the table. Were he to take but five of his big-boy steps to the left he would be able to reach it with ease.

I placed a soothing hand on his arm, "It's ok baby, just come here, you can reach it from here." Not yet being able to understand my words, he misunderstood my intentions, thinking I was trying to dissuade him from his all-consuming mission. Swatting my hand away from his arm with a frustrated jerk, he refused for a single moment to take his eyes from his cherished prize. His wails rose in intensity. His whole being seemed to scream at me, "Leave me alone! Can't you see I'm stressed out right now?"

I couldn't help but laugh at his self-imposed predicament. Here he was, straining and striving and pushing away the very answer to his problem. Seizing his shaking form under the arm pits, I pulled him away from his desired mission and placed him where he could easily reach it. Immediately he seized it and slid it into his mouth, his stress melting away as quickly as it had come.

Foolish little boy. Yet, as I watched him contentedly sucking on his pacifier I knew he had just given me an unmistakeable picture of myself.

How many times have I pushed away or simply ignored the guiding hand of Divinity when I am consumed with reaching the object of my desires? Just recently I had a stress-crash with wedding planning as I tried to work and re-work the logistics of how to get everything done and could see no human way to accomplish everything. Venting in frustrated tears to my precious future mother-in-law, I was shaken back to reality by her gentle words, "Can you think of it as though you were letting God plan your wedding? Letting things happen on His time-table instead of yours?" And sure enough, as soon as I let go and let Him take over, the details began falling into place like a well-ordered drill team.

At other times it's been life plans, cherished dreams of some special person, or some struggle against temptation. Each time, I have no doubt the Almighty stood in bemused sorrow watching me strive and fail in my own plans knowing that if I would only submit to Him He could show me the way that really works.

"For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." Romans 10:2

The lesson was reinforced again as Josiah and I read of the parable of the two sons who were asked to serve in the vineyard. Both of them were asked for only one thing-- obedience. One responded no but ended up doing it, the other enthusiastically answered yes, but never went. 

The first son cherished his own plans-- the future plans, the beloved comfort sin, the special someone and refused to be dissuaded from them, yet later chose the sweetness of submission and obeyed. He ended well but lived with the scars, the weakened character and the strengthened habit for the rest of his life. "And let none flatter themselves that sins cherished for a time can easily be given up by and by. This is not so. Every sin cherished weakens the character and strengthens habit; and physical, mental, and moral depravity is the result. You may repent of the wrong you have done, and set your feet in right paths; but the mold of your mind and your familiarity with evil will make it difficult for you to distinguish between right and wrong. Through the wrong habits formed, Satan will assail you again and again." – {COL 281.1}

The second lived a life of outward Godliness. He kept up a carefully groomed Christian appearance. He knew the right thing to say, the right prayer request to ask, the right way to preach a sermon, the right thing to blog. He knew what the church expected to see and he made sure they always saw it. He did everything right--except that he didn't obey. He didn't submit. He excused away his laziness, his little minor disobediences, his secret sins until he truly felt they were not a problem. And his world-loving brother entered heaven while he remained outside because he never obeyed.

I see myself in both of them to be honest. I'm too often a world-lover with an Adventist face to keep up. And still He gently tugs on my baby fat, showing me a better way.

Will I submit and obey?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I needed to hear it as I also prepare for a wedding in less than a month. I too find myself in the place you describe.