Raising children has done more to help me understand the love of my heavenly Father than anything else in life. Now it is my six year old grandson Dylan who continues teaching me these lessons. One day this summer, the two of us had a wonderful afternoon at a kiddie amusement park. Toward the end of the day we went into the dining area for a slice of pizza and, as it turns out, to be awed by the enticing array of arcade games along the walls. After my grandson finished his pizza, he did like his uncles before him had done and played the video games a’ la imagination (It’s free that way. J ). After he’d had a sufficient amount of time to bask in the glory of pretending he was actually playing the games, I looked up and saw him with a gun in his hands pointed at a screen full of dead people. Hmmmm… not the best fare for a young boy to be taking in. As I was walking over to tell him it was time to go, I noticed a candy crane game, which he loves. So I went up to Dylan and said, “This is really a yucky sort of game and I don’t want you playing it. It’s time to go but I will let you have one time at the candy crane.” He greatly resisted leaving his game; in fact I had to pry his little fingers off the gun. As I was pulling him away from the game I told him, “Of course, if you aren’t going to come when I tell you, we will skip the candy crane.” A second later he wrenched his hand out of mine and scooted back to the killing people game. I took his hand, and dragged him out explaining that the candy crane was no longer an option, just as I’d warned him.
Here’s where it struck him that there were consequences for his disobedience and he began to rebel against that idea. He dragged. He cried out. He pouted. Then he began with his bargaining… er…demanding. It went something like this. “I’m not going with you until you let me play the candy crane! … I’m not going to do anything you say if you don’t let me play the candy crane! … I won’t go back to the hotel with you even! … or even eat supper! … ” Throughout all this, I calmly interjected that really he had no control over any of those things, that he got INTO this problem by not doing what I said and if he continued to not listen to me, he’d probably have more problems to deal with. I took him to the car so he could finish his tantrum away from the public eye and he was now sitting in his car seat vainly trying to find an angle that would work for him. He was really rather comical as he tried to convince me he was the one in control. After I’d decided there had been enough verbal fencing, I chose to just ignore his pleas and accusations. We were still in the same car together, I’d obviously not left him, BUT I left him alone to his own devices until he had exhausted them. Turns out he exhausted himself. After several minutes passed sans back seat chatter I turned around to see him fast asleep. Well our time at the amusement park was over. He was unaware that he missed out on more fun. I gave away the remaining ride tickets I had purchased and somebody else received the blessings that were meant for Dylan.
Isn’t that a fine picture of how we sometimes interact with God? “You have not given me what I wanted, so … I’m not going to ask for your help now… I’m not exactly speaking to you actually… I’ll just do this without you…” Do we believe God has really left us all alone when he quietly quits interacting with us and waits for us to come to the end of our own devices? I wonder how many blessings we have missed because we stubbornly turned away from God’s plan for us.