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Layman's Walk

How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?!

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As an often-frustrated parent, I’ve found myself asking my kids the same questions over and over again:

“Why did you do that?”

“Haven’t I told you this needs to be done?”

“What do you mean, ‘you forgot?’  It’s the same every day!”

“You knew what was going to happen if you did that, and you did it anyway?”

“I’ve told you a thousand times not to do that!  WHY!? Ahhh!!”

“You know very well that we don’t behave that way.  Your mom and I expect better than that from you.”

“Guys, it’s bedtime–it’s the same routine. Every. Single. Night.”

“What?  I have to tell you to brush your teeth?  You don’t just do this on your own??”

“How many times do I have to tell you?!”

And yet, the other day as I was sitting on the couch with my wife lamenting what seemed to be the complete inability of our children to follow even the easiest instructions, my younger son, Evan, came into the room and said, “Daddy, I love you!  Can I have a hug and kiss?”

And my heart melted.  I bent over and picked him up and gave him a big ol’ hug and a kiss.  He hugged me back as tightly as he could (which I love).  Hugs with my kids are never quick–I love to hold them close.  I cherish how small they still are, even as they grow bigger every day.  I love the feeling of their arms wrapped tightly around my neck, the softness of their faces when they put their cheek against mine, and the sound of their breath as I hear them relax and recharge–knowing their daddy loves them more than they can possibly understand.

When I finally put him down, he went running off.  After about two or three steps, he turned around and shouted, “Thanks, Daddy!”  “You bet!  I love you!” I hollered as he cleared the room, happy to get back to whatever he was doing.

I looked over at Kari and asked her, “How is it that something you and I created together can be both the source of some of my greatest frustration and also the source of some of my greatest joy, meaning, and love?”

“I don’t know!” she responded as we both laughed.  It was funny because of the irony of the situation and because I had completely forgotten about what was frustrating me so badly to begin with!

As I sat there mulling this over in my head, a quiet voice said almost silently, “<chuckle> I know the feeling!”

How true that much be of our own loving Creator!

How often must God ask those same questions of us, God’s own children:

“Why did you do that?”

“Haven’t I told you this needs to be done?”

“What do you mean, ‘you forgot?’  It’s the same every day!”

“You knew what was going to happen if you did that, and you did it anyway?”

“I’ve told you a thousand times not to do that!  WHY!? Ahhh!!”

“You know very well that we don’t behave that way.  I expect better than that from you.”

“How many times do I have to tell you?!”

We know that as children of God we are incapable of meeting God’s expectations.  It can be the Ten Commandments of Moses, Jesus expansion of those commandments, or even just the simple on Jesus himself gives us:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.  And love you neighbor as yourself.”  We never get it right–whether we’re trying at all or trying with all our might.

What a source of frustration humanity must be for its creator!  To have been given such basic instruction (even so much that we have a basic understanding of “right and wrong” essentially hard-wired into our nature) that was then simply ignored must be aggravating.

Let’s be honest, so many of God’s instructions to us are similar to the instruction we receive throughout our own lives:

  • Don’t hit (let alone kill).
  • Share with others; be generous.
  • Be nice.
  • Don’t judge others because you’re not perfect either.
  • Speak kindly about others.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Don’t hurt other people.
  • Don’t be promiscuous.
  • Be faithful to one another.
  • Don’t take what isn’t yours–whatever that happens to be.
  • Forgive others.
  • Love others.

And yet, as a loving parent, God was willing to live with us, his children, in our weak condition to show us how to live and how to love.  Even more importantly, God showed us how much he loves us by going so far as to die a horrible death at the hands of those to whom he had only shown love and mercy.

It makes sense; what parent wouldn’t be willing to die, even in a terrible way, to save their kids?

Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel:

“Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Think on that–if we who are imperfect know how to do right by others, how much more must God be able to do that?  Take it a step further:  If we who are imperfect are frustrated at how others cannot follow simple instructions, how frustrating must that be to God who is perfect?”

But the good news I found is this:  “Even as a frustrated, imperfect, human parent, how much love do I have for my kids when they come to me?  More than I ever knew I had!  And if as a sinner I can give that much love to my own children, how much more will God give to us, God’s own disobedient children, when we come to him looking for forgiveness, help, and love?!”

Thanks to God for unending grace, hope, and love!




Layman's Walk

New Life!

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(This has been stuck in my drafts folder since June 28!  You’d think an IT guy would be better with technology!!)

I am always in awe at a new birth!

Tuesday was one of celebration for our family. My wife, Kari, and I became an Aunt and Uncle again! (And our children gained a new handsome cousin!)

This time, it was on her side of the family. Her baby sister (who I have known since she was all of 8 years old) had a baby boy: Brycen Lee LeClair. This young gent was born about a week early at over 7 lbs and over 20″ long. Mommy and baby are happy and healthy. That in itself is a fantastic blessing.

When I reflect on the births of my four children, as well as those of both my wife’s sister and my sister (and frankly, anyone else!) I consistently find myself in awe.

The idea that we, as a human being, can create something so beautiful and pure is astounding to me.

Yes, I understand biology and evolution. I completely understand that without the ability to reproduce in a viable manner no species would survive. I also appreciate that human evolution has taught us to find the “cuteness” in our own offspring to prevent us from abandoning them.

I look at the whole system in awe. That we, as beings made of “star stuff” (as said by the great Carl Sagan), are capable of not only being conscious and aware but of also creating others in our own likeness, is amazing.

In my own children, I am seeing the development of individuals, of powerful personalities, of unique beings. It floors me.

When I consider my own imperfections and weaknesses and see that I still have offspring who may overcome those particular issues, I am in awe.

I’m reminded of this every time I see a new life born. And it continues to blow my mind, even more, when I am close to the new baby’s parents.

No parents have a hope of being perfect. Yet the child born to them is (at least for a while)!

Taking it a step further, I know many wonderful, loving, and imperfect couples who haven’t their own biological children. I have watched these wonderful and loving people bring a child into their home and love them as their own–who in fact, do become their own–and it is, to me, another great wonder of humanity and of life.

When I see or think of that new life, I can’t help but compare this new life in humanity to the new life we are promised in Christ.  All of us, from the youngest baby to the oldest man or woman, will face the same inevitable fate.  Our lives are finite.  Yet in Christ, we are promised new life in Him.

Celebrate life.  Share love.