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Taught by a Toddler

September 19, 2014

Having an infant in the house…especially an infant who is beginning to seem more and more like a toddler…is a constant source of humor. Now in truth…they can be incredibly aggravating at times. They can test every ounce of patience that you have in the entirety of your being. They do that. They’re always into something. They’re never content to just be where they are. And so the end result is that you’re never actually relaxed…never really off the clock…and always a bit on edge. Because the second that you turn your head, sit down in the chair, or try to go to the bathroom, that little one is going to be climbing the stairs, drinking out of the dog bowl, or trying to wedge their little finger into the electrical outlet. It’s just what they do.

And listen…I know we can get all the gates and stuff that we need to keep them from getting into places that we don’t want them to get. We did that whole game with the first kid. But we’re at the point now where it just doesn’t work to live in a house made up of a bunch of tiny prison cells. And if I’m honest…I really don’t want my kid’s first memory of home to be little rooms with a bunch bars. I want them to wonder…and I want them to wander.

So in the midst of encouraging, hoping, and even baiting our kid into his first steps, we know we’re really just setting ourselves up for the challenge of chasing a quicker and more agile version of our current little quadruped. But that’s part of what makes parenting such a beautiful thing. It’s seeing that desire in their little eyes to reach for something…that sort of fearless longing in their hearts to do…well, to do something. It’s seeing the healthy discontent in their young souls and the willingness to try to do something about it. They always refuse to do nothing.

Now…I’m not sure when it happens. It seems like it’s happening earlier and earlier with each new generation. But something happens both in life and in faith…something that we don’t really see coming…something that we didn’t really seek out…and something that if we were willing to let our guard down for just a moment…we’d admit that we don’t want any part of. It seems like we wake up and just realize…in what seems like nothing more than a moment…that we’ve lost our sense of wonder.

As I was reading in my office this morning…the rain pouring down outside…the sound of the drops of water hitting the roof above me…I ended up in Psalm 60. In this Psalm, David has been striving against several different military forces. He’s lost some battles. And now he’s going before God as the representative of his people…expressing his fears, confessing some frustration…but honestly asking a question. You see, it seems, at least to David, like God has deserted His people…like He’s not there. And David is wondering why.

Now here’s the thing; I’ve had no less than four conversations this week with people who have expressed that same type of emotion. Some are overwhelmed. Some are underwhelmed. But all of them expressed the fact that they just don’t feel like God is there. And so, that’s been weighing heavily on me this week. And this morning…just this morning…I came to Psalm 60:12 where David says, “With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.” And you might rightly ask what that has to do with you…because you don’t have any foes. Everyone in your world thinks you’re awesome. And even if they don’t think you’re awesome…they aren’t physically attacking you. You aren’t fighting anyone…you don’t even own a sword. And if you do have a sword…let’s just be straight…you’re that guy…you know, the guy with the sword.

But I can’t help but think that maybe the reason we become so apathetic…so convinced that God isn’t there…is that we stop fighting…we stop reaching…stop wondering…and stop wandering. And while we might be comfortable and safe…the greatest foe is advancing against us…and truthfully…within us. And the reality is that some of our most difficult battles seem to rage within us. They aren’t battles of the flesh…but battles for the heart.

You see, my soon-to-be toddler never complains about being bored. He never looks at us with cold, dead eyes. He has a healthy discontentment…and it’s glorious. He looks at the world and just knows that there is something…something vast…something out there…something worth looking for. And for the Christian…that should be the case for us as well. We should be constantly stretching…constantly reaching…forever striving to be effective agents of reconciliation in God’s drama of redemption. It’s a holy discontentment.

We should ask ourselves what we are doing…right now…that requires courage? Where am I playing it safe…hiding behind the walls…instead of stepping out with a warrior’s heart? Where am I faking it in life? Where am I trusting? Where is genuine faith being displayed and even tested? It was Paul who wrote to the church in Philippi, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27) Where am I striving?

The reality check is that my greatest foe…might just be me. And so I’m praying that God would come and move in us…in His people. That He would come and tread down our foes. That He would come and restore that reckless enthusiasm that we once had. That He’d come and fall afresh on us…that He’d pour over us…and wash away the apathy and the lost sense of wonder…and that we would strive. I want us to stand at the door and look out and actually believe that “with God we shall do valiantly.” The spirit of the true Christian was summed up well by J.R.R. Tolkien when he wrote, “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost.”

Be careful what you reach for. And be careful about being comfortable. I’m learning that…again…from a nine month old.  Stand and wonder…and then take the step and wander.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Leigh permalink
    September 19, 2014 2:09 pm

    So true!! Reminds me of Andrew Peterson’s song “The Last Frontier”.

  2. September 20, 2014 11:21 am

    Excellent thoughts, Adam. Thank you.

  3. Laura Cowan permalink
    September 22, 2014 9:36 am

    True, true true! Thank you so much! My batteries are now recharged!

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