For those of you with multiple young children, you can probably relate with me on how difficult it is to bring the kids a treat of any kind without them coveting what the other received. What I find much easier is buying three of the exact same thing so as to prevent any kind of argument (I'm talking M&M's here, not Playstations). I always know when the bank teller gives me four green suckers that she understands this phenomena and is doing her best to keep peace in my Suburban. Oh, how I love my bank lady.
This week was the Book Fair at our kids' elementary school. You know the drill - your kids beg and plead to pay quadruple for a dollar store toy or book just so they can say they got something from the Book Fair. I could set my foot down and say no but then I'd have to deal with my own issues of looking like a horrible mom for not letting them get something like all the other kids. So, I caved, okay? Each boy was given a certain dollar amount and after school came hauling in their loot.
Even though each boy got to pick out what he wanted, the green-eyed monster got ahold of my Youngest when he saw his Eldest brother had gotten a calculator that looked like a flip cell phone. Let me first say this kid cares nothing about Math, but he loves to get attention so undoubtedly he believed this little prize would boost his cool factor.
The wheeling and dealing began. "Come on, brother! I'll trade you whatever you want! I'll give you a baseball card. I'll even clean your room!" Nothing was working until he said, "I'll give you FIVE DOLLARS for that calculator!"
Big brother perked up a bit. "Five dollars? I only paid two dollars for it...You are on!"
Here's where the trouble started. Youngest didn't have five dollars. He never does his chores and has no prospect of EVER having five dollars especially considering he is always willing to pay dearly today for what will be worthless to him tomorrow. He is already shaping up to be Citibank's best customer.
Or their worst.
What was his solution? He snuck in his dad's wallet and got five dollars and gave it to his older brother. The Eldest completed the transaction with a smile not knowing where the money had come from. All he saw were $$$$. When he told Dad about the profit he'd just made, warning bells went off in his head because he knew Youngest didn't have any money.
Long story short, Youngest 'fessed up to having taken the money. He immediately began crying his eyes out. Dad took pity on him and used it as a teachable moment to explain how bad sin made us feel but that God was gracious when we asked for forgiveness. He then tried to gather our son up to comfort him. However, instead of curling up in his dad's arms, he pouted up and refused to be hugged. It made no sense whatsoever! He'd done wrong, gotten busted, been shown way more mercy than he deserved, and yet he was angry!
How many times have I done that very thing?! Getting called out when we've made a mistake is painful, but what keeps us from accepting mercy when it is offered? Pride from having to admit we were wrong? Shame for having been so gullible? Fear for what others will think of our weakness? The Jewish nation responded to Jesus in this exact way prompting Him to lament,
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." Luke 13:34
It took a while, but my son finally let me hold him as he cried and said he was sorry. It was a heartwrenching few moments for him, but wow, what a burden was lifted for both of us when it was all over. This scene with my own son made me understand just a bit more the love the Father wishes to pour out on us if we will simply cease striving and allow Him to gather us to Him in mercy. It will take humility and perhaps many tears, but O the comfort that awaits those who will allow themselves to be wrapped in His embrace!
Please visit my personal blog, The Preacher's Wife.