Learning from a Child
I am sitting here in the dark with my grandson, John Luther, on my shoulder. He is teething and with temperature, so I have the pleasure of his company today. He is resting quietly on my shoulder as I write, but with some need to cling, suddenly awakened by any attempt to distance myself from him.
Of course, if I lay him down, the cry he has learned to use pulls so deeply at my heart, that I then quickly pull him back to my bosom. It’s an abrupt cry that could awaken the heavens, much like my own when I am dis-eased by a falsely perceived distance from God.
John Luther, also like his grandfather, has his attachments. He likes to have at least three pacifiers within reach. Even when asleep he will reach out and cluster them near his mouth. I have my own pacifiers, certain sins that easily beset me, often reached for in my restless struggles. I am much better than in my younger days, just as he will one day joke when he reads these words about his neediness.
As I care for John Luther, I am also learning anew the Father’s heart for me. I feel His heart when my heart is touched by John’s infirmities. Whether it’s an earache or a tooth trying to come through, I suffer too, at least emotionally.
He stumbles and bumps himself more often now, for at 11 months, John is beginning to walk. At first he was constantly grasping a finger, holding with all his strength for security. Then came the day when his parents sent the video. He had broken loose on his own, pushing a toy with wheels somewhat like an older adult with a walker.
The last couple of days, he has begun to stand up on his own, better enduring the awkwardness, as he gains confidence and stamina.
He is learning that freedom is more enjoyable than being bound by the need for an adult hand. Myself, at 67, perhaps still a little clingy, but my Lord, like this first time grandfather is always nearby, patiently awaiting my reach; hoping however, for my breakthrough moment.
Will I ever grow up, truly walking “up-right” in the image of God? I certainly aspire to, but brokenness seems a part of my fabric. My false-self as I read again this a.m.:
“Therefore there is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him.
The only One Who can teach me to find God is God, Himself, Alone.”1
I am aging now, and just as John Luther, I am beginning to become more comfortable with my thoughts and the words that I use to share those thoughts. Not necessarily the words of my parents, though early on they were. As an elder, my thoughts are neither the thoughts of my parents nor those of others but thoughts of my own.
I am now at a point in time to frame my own words, just as John Luther will soon abandon his babbling and begin to share his own thoughts. My thoughts are now backed by 60 plus years of journey, years in which I have been privileged to see the mighty hand of the Lord.
Whether it was the unlikely honor of being asked to serve on a board with esteemed marketplace leaders, or simply providing an office and a means for expressing my calling to cities, He has been faithful. Yet, those are things that any achiever might be able to accomplish.
For that reason I am grateful that God has also intervened at times in ways that many may have never experienced. Raising an old man named Leonard Sykes from an unconscious state, when I was still young in the faith was one such moment. Praying a prayer over a helpless individual and then seeing their life extended has a powerful impact on ones faith. Having the Lord intervene more than once when my life and in fact, my family could have been snuffed out in a traffic calamity, comes to mind as well. Once a car passed right through our own! I kid you not!
Like the three Hebrew children, I have been in the fire and have seen the Fourth Man, the Word become flesh! After such moments, the text reads quite differently!
To me, these water shed moments are akin to those recorded in the text of the Book of Joshua. When Israel was crossing the Jordan at flood stage, the God of Moses intervened. Joshua then memorialized that moment by having 12 men each carry a stone from the dry bed of the Jordan. The stones were stacked nearby the place where once flood waters had raged. Generations hence when told of this story would have tangible evidence of the unseen God, the One who allowed their ancestors passage where few men had trod!
The purpose of this blog is to stack a few stones.
1 Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation.