Saturday, August 1, 2009

"NOoooooo!" - August 1, 2009

“Evan, eat your green beans, please.”

“No,” replies my twenty-month-old grandson, his hazel eyes locked intently with mine.

Hmmm… I never had this problem with his daddy, Matt, who inhaled “greensie-beansies” by the can-full. Matthew was master of the “NO!” under most other circumstances. Surely I can get this sweet son of his to eat his beans.

Evan’s vocabulary is rich in ways to resist. There’s the sing-songy “NOoooooo…,” with O’s streaming from his O-shaped mouth, like bubbles streaming from a bubble wand. Initially, his Mommy and Daddy thought this was cute, but it quickly lost its charm as Evan’s vocabulary of “no” grew.

As with my green beans example, there is the matter-of-fact “no,” with eye contact emphasis, testing the adult, “How far can I go?”

Then there’s the quiet “no,” with a slight movement of his head back and forth, when he is engrossed in an activity, such as playing with the remote control.

And, of course, the emphatic “NO!!!” said with eyes ablaze in vehement opposition, that makes living with a toddler so charming.

I relish those blessed times when a toddler says “no,” and then immediately obeys. “This is MY idea to comply, not yours!”

Imagine yourself a toddler in relationship to your Heavenly Father. I routinely get stuck in spiritual toddlerhood, my first reaction to God’s nudging usually some form of “no.” I take consolation from my Biblical ancestors:

Moses employed the “Who, ME?” tactic, when God spoke from the burning bush, saying, “I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." Moses queried God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh…?" (Exodus 3:10-11 NIV)

The Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, adopted the, “I’m too young” line of defense when God informed him that before he was even born, “I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah replied, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” (Jeremiah 1:6 NIV)

Jonah utilized the “Flea-to-the-Sea” strategy when God instructed him to take bad news to the people of Nineveh. Due to acting like a spineless jellyfish, Jonah landed in “time-out”—in the belly of a whale.

There are countless ways to say “no” to God. For example, God says that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, but I mistreat it by ingesting the wrong things, eating too much, and by not getting proper exercise and sleep. God wants me to be a good steward of my time and talents, but I squander both of these gifts far too often. I let my fears of rejection and abandonment get in the way of standing up for God’s truth and the welfare of others.

To be called a child of God is both an honor and a reflection of the reality that, spiritually, I will always be a child in need of my Father’s guidance and discipline. As parents, we have our children’s best interest at heart when we “don’t take no for an answer. “ God does, too.

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