When we are toddlers learning to take our first steps, there are a range of emotions that we experience. Likewise, there are a range of emotions our parents experience watching us. A toddler may be bold and daring while his parents may be fearful of him getting hurt. A toddler may be fearful or tentative while his parents may be be positive and encouraging. A toddler may be excited but uncertain while his parents nudge him by holding his favourite toy just out of reach. A REAL loving parent takes joy in her child’s first step. A loving parents enjoys watching the whole ‘learning to walk’ process and rejoices with her child on his accomplishment because real parents love their children.
Brittany was a bit of a late starter when it came to walking. She was fourteen months old when she first mustered the confidence to walk. She was a bright child who knew she could get hurt. However, because she was bright she found a way to teach herself. There were two entrance ways into our kitchen. Brittany figured out that she could keep one hand on the wall and walk along the wall through one entrance way and out the other without stopping. I watched her walk into the kitchen and I watched as she came out beaming with pride. I was so happy for the joy I could see on her face. Every time she came out, we beamed at each other. I was proud of her and I am sure she knew I was proud of her and loved her. This is parent-love.
Never does a parent, at least a loving parent, get angry at their toddler for teetering as their child takes her first steps. Never does a good parent get annoyed that their child is not striding as an adult. Never, does this parent tell his toddler, “You are doing it all wrong!” or “Can’t you walk straighter or quicker?” I can’t help thinking, I am human and yet I have all this love for my children and I also know that God’s love is greater than the most loving being on Earth. We who believe in God pretty much say this is what we believe…we believe that God loves us…and yet…
I see all the time how easily some people who say they believe this seem to forget they do. They forget when they say God gets angry and perhaps even punishes us if we make mistakes or take the wrong steps. They forget when they say, this bad thing must have happened to them because they did something they shouldn’t. To hear them talk is as if they believe God wants and expects perfection from us; that God is harsh and unloving really, ready to strike someone down with cancer or aids because they didn’t walk straight enough or quick enough. Yet we wouldn’t treat our children that way, would we?
Of course not. That would be cruel and unjust!
So is God cruel and unjust?
Because God is love!
Of course He is.
God encourages us to grow into the full potentiality of who He created us to be.
When our children take their first steps, as parents we are there to lend a supporting hand and give encouragement when necessary. Once our children are walking, we don’t teach them to walk straighter, they learn to do that for themselves. If our toddler misjudges a step and falls, we pick her up and hold her close and wipe her tears and kiss her and allow her to try again while giving love and encouragement. How much more then will God do that for us?
God encourages us to grow into the full potentiality of who He created us to be. He doesn’t smack us down when we make a mistake or do something wrong–the consequences of our actions do that for us and God responds with His arms held towards us, ready to embrace us. God is there for us to turn to for advice and wisdom but it is up to us to seek Him. It is up to us to learn to walk straighter. To learn what is right and what is wrong. Hopefully, we begin to learn that the value or ill of our actions are determined by the motivation in our heart and we never forget God’s loving grace.