Friday, December 01, 2006

Lap, Dance, Grumpy

Yeah, maybe that title is a cheap way to get your attention....but it worked didn't it? Stay with me....I might pull it together! (But grab a cup of java first....this is a long one!)

I've been stuck on the phrase "child-like faith" the past couple of days. It has been rolling around in my head. As I've been pondering that phrase and I've been watching how my son, Alexey (8 y.o.) explores the world, I've been struck by a couple of things.


Alexey naturally desires to spend "snuggle" time with mom/dad.

At night, when we put Alexey to bed, he loves it when I lay next to him (or sometimes on him!) and tell him a story, sing a "silly song", or read to him. I've decided it isn't so much about the story, song, or book as much as it is about having something that makes the "snuggle" time last longer. When I am putting Alexey to bed we'll snuggle and do a story/song, then I get up and get him a drink of water. That is usually when he says, "I wish Mom was putting me to bed. She will lay down with me after I drink my water." Alexey can't get enough snuggle time.

Alexey is also in the habit of seeking me out in the morning after he wakes up (he usually finds me typing random thoughts on the computer!) and will ask, "Can we sit on the couch?" And we will go and I will hold him on my lap and we'll just sit....Alexey resting on my lap and snuggling in. Not saying a lot. Just enjoying each other's presence.

As he is getting older these times of snuggling and sitting on my lap are gradually decreasing. Some would say this is "natural". Yeah, maybe. Maybe the natural way of the world. But is it right?

The sad part is, as I reflect on this, the decrease in time spent "resting together" is not because of changes in Alexey's wants/needs as much as it is about changes in me. Being too stressed out and/or busy - worrying more about getting Alexey to bed so I can finish watching a TV show, or read a book, or prepare for youth group - than honoring his desire for "snuggling" - resting with me. Same thing in the mornings. More and more often I'm busy on the computer, doing some laundry, writing my list of things to get done for the day - instead of welcoming Alexey onto my lap to just sit and rest in each other's presence.

Am I training my son to lose this desire to spend time with his Father? Was I trained that way?
Is that why I struggle with spending time with God? Is that why it so often seems to be a discipline rather than a desire? Am I trying to reclaim a desire that was trained out of me? I don't want to be the one that takes away my son's childlike faith. I want to be the one that nurtures it. I want him to always have the desire to rest in his Father's presence - to rest with God, enjoying each other's presence.

For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me. Matthew 18:2-5


A couple of days ago, Alexey was dancing around the living room (which he is prone to do!) as he listened to a Mercy Me CD. He was jumping, moving, twisting with his hands in the air. As he was dancing he started to take off his shirt. When I asked him what he was doing he said, "I was going to take off my shirt and then jump into the crowd! That's what rock stars do!" Complete, childlike abandon. How cool. How unlike myself - me wondering if people are staring as I raise my hands in praise - and definitely not thinking that my clothes are getting in the way of worship - but maybe they are? Hmmm.......

Our family is going to the Michael W. Smith Christmas concert this weekend and as Alexey and I were talking about it he said, "Michael W. Smith won't be taking off his shirt and jumping into the crowd." Wow. Somehow, he has already "framed" his thoughts about how to "behave" during various concerts. Why don't I praise with the abandon that is demonstrated by kids/youth as a rock concert? What am I training my child up to learn? Am I nurturing his spiritual growth or stifling it? Lord, I need your help.

When the religious leaders saw the outrageous things he was doing, and heard all the children running and shouting through the Temple, "Hosanna to David's Son!" they were up in arms and took him to task. "Do you hear what these children are saying?"
Jesus said, "Yes, I hear them. And haven't you read in God's Word, 'From the mouths of children and babies I'll furnish a place of praise'?" Matthew 21:15-16


The other night I was exuding all of the bad characteristics that I just mentioned. Now, I don't get grumpy often (my wife claims I only lose it about 4 times a year!) - but the other night everything was bugging me. I was feeling sorry for myself because the house was a mess and I didn't think the family was helping enough to pick stuff up. Alexey was irritating me because he kept randomly breaking out into song/dance while we were playing a game. It was a great pity party. And of course, my mood ended up making everyone uncomfortable. It was horrible. And it was my fault. I couldn't get to the place wher I could enjoy playing a game with my family, watching my child dance and sing just for fun, because I was focused on myself. I was about as far from a child-like faith as I could get. Shame on me. God forgive me - and I hope my family does as well.
People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. "Let these children alone. Don't get between them and me. These children are the kingdom's pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Luke 18:15-17

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