“I’m hungry!” My 3 ½ year-old son said repeatedly as we made our way down the stairs and into the cluttered kitchen below. Still rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I mumbled a drowsy: “what do you want for breakfast?”
Much like the red laser beam from one of his favorite nerf guns, my son’s gaze zeroed in on his target: a stash of candy that I had placed on top of the refrigerator. I tend to keep “the really good stuff” up and out of reach. But some of the kids lingering Valentine’s Day candy had recently been moved to the top of the refrigerator as well. I had naively thought that it would be safe from grabby little fingers up there.
“I want candy!” he exclaimed, pointing at the bright wrappers that were just in view.
“It’s 7:00 o clock in the morning. You are not having candy right now!” I replied. “But maybe you can have some after lunch. What else would you like for breakfast?”
I motioned towards the bananas and oranges on the counter. Then I directed him toward the pantry cupboard that held a variety of boxed cereals and oatmeal options.
He thought for a moment, and then looked up at me with those irresistible blue eyes of his, and said: “ummm…. I want candy!”
Once my little guy has fixated on something, it is almost impossible to redirect him. I am sure this determination will come in handy as he grows up and learns to channel it into productive endeavors. But at this point in time, it is often a huge source of frustration for everyone involved.
My son knew that he wasn’t supposed to have that candy. But when he wants something, the resourceful little renegade tends to do whatever it takes to get it. Regardless of the consequences! This particular instance was no exception.
About an hour after our breakfast conversation, I had to run upstairs to change my 17-month-old daughter’s diaper. Apparently, in the three minutes it took me to “wipe and dipe” his sister, my son had managed to scale the kitchen cabinets, perch himself on the counter-top, and then stretch his arms and fingers just high enough to grab a hold of some of those coveted sweets.
He quickly found his favorite hiding spot. It’s a magical place under the dining room table where he seems to think he becomes invisible. However, I must have x-ray vision, because I always seem to find him there and know when he’s done something wrong.
As soon as my foot hit the bottom stair, I was aware of what had happened. There was my toddler under the table, munching on some of that “forbidden fruit.” Our eyes met, and I made a hasty be-line towards my son. He responded with an equally swift attempt to shove the remaining candy into his mouth. I caught his arm before he could swallow his ill-gotten prize, and triumphantly confiscated the sticky remnants of a banana-flavored Laffy Taffy.
I then proceeded to tell him that along with his time-out, he would NOT be getting any more candy that day because I was throwing it away! He could have cared less about the time-out, but when he realized the treats were going into the trash, he began to howl. Huge rain-drop tears began cascading down his face and he passionately declared that I was “the meanest mom in the world!”
Our garbage can is hidden behind some cabinet doors that are secured with child-proof safety locks. I swiftly dropped the taffy into the trash can, shut the cabinet, and figured it would be the end of this regretful adventure. Alas, I underestimated my boy.
If you have ever read the book “Jurassic Park” you may recall the portion of the story that describes how the genetically re-engineered velociraptor dinosaurs were so intelligent and cunning that they would take turns ramming themselves against their electric fence, testing it for weaknesses. Now I can’t be sure of this, but I imagine that much like those velociraptors, my son was periodically testing those cabinet doors during the day to check for any “holes in the security system.”
Much to my dismay, his efforts were eventually rewarded.
You see, at some point during the day, the cabinet door wasn’t properly closed and the safety-lock didn’t catch. I’m not sure how long he knew about the security breach, but he was smart enough to wait until I was out of the room and occupied elsewhere before he made his move!
I was washing my hands in the bathroom when I heard the unmistakable thud of the garbage can hitting the floor. REALLY?!!!!!
I rounded the corner just in time to see my son, surrounded by piles of garbage, victoriously holding up the discarded yellow sugar blob. It was probably coated with dog hair and kleenex residue, but that didn’t stop him from cramming it into his mouth before he lost it a second time!
Now as much as I want to relegate this whole lack of obedience issue to the toddler years of life, I have to admit that I struggle with it myself from time to time. Sometimes it is just hard to do what we know we are supposed to do, isn’t it?! And it can be equally hard to NOT do the things we know we shouldn’t be doing.
Sometimes we just want what we want. Despite the consequences!
And yet, deep down inside, we all know that obedience is important. For instance, there are rules in society for a reason. Without them, our lives would be complete chaos! Healthy boundaries are important in so many aspects of life. Good rules help to provide stability and security in an often uncertain and unstable world.
How much more important is obedience when it comes to our relationship with God?
As silly as it sounds, I believe that choosing to disobey God’s directions for our life is a lot like settling for candy that has been pulled out of the garbage can. Sometimes there is an immediate bitter taste in our mouth. But other times, it might taste OK. We may even be able to get past the funky garbage after-taste in our mouth, or handle the indigestion that may follow.
But here’s the thing, if we disregard God’s commands, we are ultimately MISSING OUT!
Why would we choose to dumpster dive and settle for “just OK,” when we could be joyfully unwrapping and savoring the “really good stuff” that God has to offer us?
Throughout scripture, blessings and obedience tend to go hand in hand. In Psalm 119:2 we read: “Blessed are those who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart.” Proverbs 16:20 says: “He who gives attention to the word will find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.” And Jesus himself said, “Blessed, rather, are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28)
God’s blessings come in many forms. He often provides above and beyond what we could ever ask or imagine, but sometimes He blesses us by just meeting our daily needs. He may give us the supernatural strength to face personal trials, or place the right kind of people in our path to help us walk through the trial together. Jesus gives us “peace that passes understanding” and He offers us a sense of purpose and a joy that seems to defy our circumstances.
But do you know what the ultimate blessing is? It’s the ability to have an intimate relationship with God himself. A relationship that is available both now AND for eternity!
Jesus told his disciples: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)
Think about that! The God of the universe wants to abide – to make his home – with US! He wants to be tangibly present in our lives and to lavish His LOVE upon us. How amazing is that?!
Jesus calls us into a love relationship with himself. If we truly love and believe in Him, then we SHOULD obey him. Not because we have to, but because we WANT to!
I know there will probably be days where I will struggle with this whole idea of obedience. In those short-sighted moments of rebellious weakness, I may find myself swan diving back into the dumpster. But I hope those days are few and far between. Because, honestly, I’m ready to gorge myself on the good stuff that God has for me! I’ve always been a sucker for dessert! How about you?
photo credit: en.wikipedia.org