It’s Saturday morning. It began with an amazing snowy, white hike with my son. He and I remain the early birds of the family, rising at hours the other two like to stay tucked in bed when the luxury of sleeping in presents itself. All of us get to enjoy indulging in what gives us life. Many people ask how I get my son to hike with me, as if I have somehow tricked him into this drudgery. In reality, no coercion is involved. I think of all the forms of exercise out there, this is the one we both like best. He is as motivated as I am, and I take great delight in this shared joy.
I was thinking of another instance with my son that brought about some illumination. Perhaps those of you with middle schoolers can relate to the demands made by your kids for things (Playstations, clothing, music, phones, etc.) that they feel they require. The same delightful hiking child can, on occasion, push me for the latest and greatest necessity in his life. Sometimes the push feels very demanding and less requesting, and the tone of the request can make me feel less inclined to give. The giving of the gift can easily lose its sweetness. In truth, I love to give my kids things! I love to see their faces light up when they receive something unexpectedly that they secretly wanted. I recall the shock and awe of both my children when we went to the Verizon store with some hand me down phones, and walked out with devices that could now text and call. A whole new world was opened to them and they were both enthused and grateful. There is no greater moment for a parent than when they get to giggle with delight over a plan come to fruition involving a fun gift for their kids.
Here’s the illuminating idea for me. How often have I been that demanding child with God? How often have I demanded and thereby destroyed the joy of receiving His unexpected gifts? I truly believe that the heart of God is abundance. When I consider stories of God embodied in Christ: filling large vats of wine for a wedding feast, providing for a hungry crowd from a few loaves of bread and fish, cooking breakfast for his disciples on the beach, healing countless followers of their diseases, I see a God who was and is lavish in love. While the timing of His gifts may not always align with the pressure of our want or need, I still believe God longs for us to see his generous heart. Sadly, my own posture of demand can blind me to the delight of receiving. When one of my kids demands a gift that I had already intended to give them, it somehow takes away from the goodness of the gift. I wonder how God feels when I demand something from him versus receive it with delight?
Like the child who needs no coercion to go hiking with his mom, I want to be that daughter who walks with God because I delight in the adventure and company of His presence. I want to trust Him so completely that I no longer need to demand. The goal is to be that child who is always expectant because they thoroughly understand the nature of the parent to give good gifts. I am far from being that, but I am thankful for all that God is teaching me as I attempt to parent my own children. Every now and again, my eyes open to the bigger picture of what life abundant in Christ is supposed to look like and the writing it down keeps it ever before me.