I watched in slow-motion horror as my 20-month-old came knee-numbingly close to shooting a stream of water from his trusty dollar tree spray bottle right into the eye of an uncovered electrical outlet. I was able to run interference and stop the chaos before it even ensued ESPN top-ten style, but whoa, was my little guy mad.
His face turned furious shades of purple and red as school bus-sized tears ran into his open mouth. He was the silent-scream kind of angry. But when the air finally gave way, they probably heard it on the moon.
In his frustration, he aimed his water bottle again, this time resulting in a good old-fashioned spanking and stern, “No! Buddy, that will hurt you.” This, of course, catapulted his emotions into oblivion. He snuggled deep into my lap, licked his wounds, and regulated his little breaths. He looked at me and back at the outlet, then at his spray bottle. He made the same path with his eyes again a few times before he pointed and said, “Mama, please! Water! That!”
I tried my best to explain to him why he couldn’t shoot his water there, but he only knows so much English at this point. So, I just held him and loved on him and kissed his face a million times until he begged for mercy.
He wanted so badly to play with that outlet. His curiosity was having major FOMO (fear of missing out). He didn’t understand that my “no” and my discipline was for his protection.
Sound familiar? As I sat there cuddling my sulking boy, I thought to myself, “How many times have I been upset with God for interrupting my plans? How many more times have I gone back to do exactly what He had just told me not to?”
I know, and you know, that water and electricity equal bad news, but my sweet baby doesn’t know that because he’s never seen or experienced the consequences. In the same way, God knows that His rejection of the desires of our flesh often, if not every time, equals protection. This is similar to – what I like to call – spiritual spankings.
But in the moment, we usually can’t see that. In the moment there are feelings of doubt, feelings of disappointment and so many question marks where it felt like there should be periods or exclamation points, all because we couldn’t see the consequences up ahead.
Oh, but hallelujah, He goes before. And He comes behind because He sees and He knows that we’ll need to snuggle deep into His lap, lick what feel like wounds, and regulate our breathing. He hems us in.
It might take a little while because only a little is revealed at a time, but soon enough, sharp stones and bottomless caverns will begin to appear in the light behind and beside you as you move past.
May we say, even in advance and even in the waiting, “Thank you Jesus for your protection. I didn’t step on that stone, and I didn’t fall in that pit, because you loved me enough to redirect me!”
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me (Psalm 139:5).
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:7).
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path (Psalm 119:105).