Written by: Rev. Nathan Hill
I read a story this week where a mom described one of her toddler’s tantrums and likened it to the way that we sometimes pray. I can imagine the tantrum went something like this. One day a two-year-old girl found a marker that was left on the counter in the kitchen. She thought that this might be a fun toy to play with, and so the picked it up and removed the cover. She discovered that when she wiped the tip of the marker onto different things, they changed color! How amazing! It would only be logical, then, to begin decorating herself. There is no pastime better than coloring on your arms and feet with a marker—for a toddler.
As you can imagine, the little girl’s mother was not happy with her daughter’s choice of activity, and so she immediately took the marker away from the little girl and told her never to do that again. The reaction to this injustice was horrendous—laying on the floor, crying, pounding fists, anger—all because the little girl could no longer color on her feet with a marker. (Note: I have taken some literary license to ham up the story…but I assure you the basic premise is real!)
When I read this I immediately thought about how God must chuckle at our reactions sometimes when he gives us instructions. When we pray for something to take place in our life—health, open doors to employment, or the affection of a gorgeous girl in Math class—and then we do not get it…well, we can become frustrated. In our sulking and frustration about God’s “lack of response” (when really He may have said “wait”, or “no”) I wonder if we appear to him like the little girl described above. I wonder if he looks at us and wonders why we are mad that we cannot color on our feet with markers. I wonder if in the grand scheme of things, the desires that we feel need to be fulfilled, the doors we feel we really need to be opened, and the things that we get really mad and/or defensive about if they do not go our way, are really as insignificant as coloring on our arms with a marker.
The prophet Isaiah reminds us that our thoughts are not God’s thoughts, and our ways are not God’s ways (Is. 55:8). The wisdom found in the proverbs tells us that there is a way that seems right to you and I—but it ends in death (Pr. 14:12). These two passages alone should remind us that we do not always have the best perspective on what is good for us. Rather, sometimes we need to submit to the path of God, lest we waste our time doing something as silly and unproductive as coloring on our feet with a marker. Ultimately this was one of the main reasons for Adam and Eve’s sin—they came to believe that they knew what was best for them, not God.
So, for those of you who have kids, the next time your children get upset about some boundary that is just plain self-evident to us as adults (and that will probably be most days), remember how God looks at us as a heavenly Father. Perhaps we are not that far removed from the tantrums of our children and we need to begin to have greater trust in God for the details of our life.