To start with a digression -is anyone else thinking ‘Baby Fish Mouth’ at this point?
No??? Perhaps it’s just me – although I am counting on the NTV to join me.
On a more serious note..
I read a challenging piece recently in a book called Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Horger Alsup. The author was getting us to consider the way in which God speaks to us. That is – the nature of the sort of communication he can have with us given that he is GOD and we are not only mere humans, but broken ones at that. Well I say the ‘author’ – Wendy Horger Alsup was in fact pointing us back to an idea of John Calvin’s. Alsup writes: “John Calvin once said that God talks to us like we talk to babies. He uses words we understand, but there is so much meaning behind those words that we cannot yet comprehend.” She gives the example of telling her dogs to sit when they come in at night so that she can wipe their feet. What she is doing is getting them to sit still so that she can wipe their feet so that they can then have the run of the house. All she says to them is: “SIT!” – not because she has no greater purpose than them sitting, but because that is what they can comprehend.
I don’t know about you, but this is hard to hear. Partly because my pride doesn’t like me being compared to a dog! And partly because I am so bad at not knowing WHEN? and WHY? and WHAT NEXT? and ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?
What will it take to help us receive God’s words of WAIT! and TRUST! and OBEY! ?
Knowing him better and submitting to him more deeply. Humans are quite clever really – even quite young ones. We are back to that step in my utility room. (See post from 13/1/2016: Small things can weigh the most). We are so wonderfully made, but so totally flawed that we are slow to recognise what we can’t do, what we don’t know and what we can’t understand! In fact without the work of the Holy Spirit we can’t even start to see how limited we really are.
A small child is amazing – in a matter of months it has learnt to move and reach and investigate. This small child is very pleased with itself – and so are its parents. However, this child has a problem. It does not know what it can’t do and it is unaware of what it doesn’t know! Without loving parents in charge this child is not going to thrive! The parents will need to regularly say NO!, WAIT!, NOT YET! They will over rule by picking the child up or strapping it down! (Oh for those days!) As the child grows it will declare: I DO IT MYSELF! and constantly ask WHY? They will grow ever more certain that they know better.
(Sadly (!) in the case of human children and their parents this can occasionally be true – as I found out after losing to the One and Only Daughter in a quiz game yesterday!)
Do we see ourselves and our relationship with God in this light? Our pride pricks!
(I can’t resist another film reference: “Is one of us supposed to be the dog in this scenario?”)
Despite our oft referred to low self esteem problems, and our ‘Uriah Heep’ style humility we are really very slow to see ourselves in anything but rather glowing terms. Even when we are sure we are rubbish we are generally dismissing the wisdom of friends, family and all manner of other evidence because we know best! Our sin elevates us and shrinks our God. It also doubts our God’s goodness. Sometimes I just long that my children would display some acknowledgement that I love them and generally (although imperfectly) act generously and in their best interests. Some acceptance that I know things that they don’t know that give me a different, and more complete picture of a situation. But that is just what I need to do with God – and more so because he is GOD , he is the Father of our Lord Jesus who died for me to make me his child!
I long to see myself as an infant in God’s household, loved and looked after and supported in growing in maturity – a maturity that sees ever more clearly how small I am and how great is my God.
Lord help me not to rail against your simple words to me, but to rest in them. Forgive me that I burden myself with what you have not chosen to burden me with. In the name of the one whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light, Amen.