Does God ever use the words you say to teach some of the most deep, and profound biblical lessons? Just me? I doubt that very much. This lesson came to me from a far deeper well of wisdom than my own while walking through the parking lot of McDonald’s.
We were running late for church, again, and I forgot to feed my family. The answer, of course, was to rush around and get church ready to head to the golden arches on the way. We pull into the parking lot and my 8yr old unbuckles himself, then unbuckles the 3yr old, and they both come barreling out of the van. I grab the hand of the youngest and she pulls away. As I hit the button to close the door (yes, my van is fancy), I squat down and get eye level with that 3yr old fireball: “when I offer you my hand, I need you to grab it, because I am trying to keep you safe.” —–> Insert head exploding emoji here
A little background that will make this lesson a bit more relevant: these precious 3yr old and 2yr old sisters just came to us last Friday. They have been a part of our family for exactly nine days. NINE. Eight at the time of this incident.
In what felt like 10 minutes, but was actually more like 2 seconds, God scolded and taught me all at the same time. “Daughter, would you listen to your own words? When I offer you my hand, I am trying to keep you safe, and you often refuse the gesture.” ——–> head exploding emoji, again.
I have been held safe by God for all 34 years of my life. Seven years ago however, God grabbed a hold of me and nothing has been the same since. I have learned to trust Him to protect me through the many fires we have walked. I have learned to believe in His stability when everything around me was crashing down. I have learned to rest in His arms that offer to hold me through the suffering. He has proven Himself faithful to me, over and over again, and I have no reason at all to ever doubt Him. Yet, when He offers his steadfast hand for me to grab hold, there are times I still ignore the gesture. Years ago, my natural inclination was to discard His hand completely, and run across the parking lot, not looking left or right, darting full force toward whatever danger lingered on the other side. That immaturity of before has dissolved and made way for pride to take up residence and now, my refusal of God’s protection is simply because I think I know better. Whatever the reason, when the God of the Universe, infinite in wisdom and power, offers me His hand, I best take that hand!
Remember that sweet 3yr old girl? She had known me for eight days. Eight days prior to this incident in the McDonald’s parking lot, she was sitting in her own house, with her own siblings, in her own clothes, with her own toys, near her own bed, with her own food, and looking her own mother in the eyes. Last night after we pulled into the parking lot of that restaurant, all she could see was those golden arches and they could have triggered a myriad of emotions, one of which was no doubt joy. My offer to hold her hand while crossing the parking lot was nothing more than a hindrance keeping her from what she wanted so desperately. She did not see my gesture as a tool to keep her safe; nor did she see me as a person who was there for her, with her best interests in mind. I was darn near invisible in that moment and that was just fine.
Does she need to know that crossing a parking lot without an adult is unsafe and that she should look both ways before walking where cars could be driving? Of course she does. Did I do anything wrong in that parking lot by trying to hold her hand, and then explaining why she needed to hold my hand, all before we could enter the restaurant? Of course not. Do I understand why, after only EIGHT days, she doesn’t trust me fully? Surely. Do I understand why, after only EIGHT days, she doesn’t automatically know that when I offer my hand, she should take it? I do now.
When God offers me His had, I have absolutely no good reason to refuse the offer. When I offer my hand to a broken child whose trust in adults has been shattered, I should expect her to refuse that offer. God reaches down to love the unlovable, not when they are neat, clean, put-together, and ready to accept all He has to offer, but when they are broken, tattered, hurt, and struggling to take the next step. A good foster parent does the same.