“Oh no, Elena, you don’t want that,” I say to our one-year old granddaughter. Obligingly she holds up to me a minuscule scrap of paper she’s found on the floor. Thanks to much practice with Cheerios, her thumb and forefinger can pick up the tiniest items.
Elena and I are on an excursion through the living room and dining room. From her jaunty steps, I can tell she’s loving the freedom to explore. And I’m glad to provide the watchful eye she needs.
No sooner do I slip the paper into my pocket than her little hands are grabbing for a cell phone on a side table. You wouldn’t think her arms are long enough to reach that far. Daddy says she has the wingspan of a pterodactyl.
“I’m sorry, Elena,” I tell her. “We’ll have to put that up here on the shelf. Mommy’s phone isn’t a toy.”
I think she’s heard that before. The removal of the phone doesn’t upset her; she just moves on. Quickly Elena toddles toward the living room fireplace where unlit candles stand in a decorative formation. Not for long. She grabs the chunky, center candle, clutches it to her chest, and proceeds on her way around the table.
“Let’s leave the candle here,” I say, gently prying it out of her fingers. “If you drop that on your toes, it will hurt.”
I’m surprised Elena doesn’t become upset. For a moment I think she’ll march on to other discoveries and leave the other candles in the fireplace. Instead, she wastes no time turning around and heading back. Soon there are five candles up on the table.
And so it goes as I tag along behind a toddler who knows very little, fears practically nothing, and desperately wants to be free and independent. We adults must be attentive, instructive, and protective.
You know what? There are times I’m not much more than a toddler in God’s family. I, too, know very little, lack a healthy fear of those things that could hurt me, and struggle against the desire to be free and make my own choices.
Good thing I have a Heavenly Father who is so attentive.
“He who watches over [me] will not slumber” (Psalm 121:3).
My Heavenly Father is instructive.
“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (Psalm 25:9). Key word: humble. I have to be accepting of instruction and willing to apply it.
My God is also protective.
“He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge” (Psalm 144:2).
* * * * * * * * * *
Oh, Father, forgive me for the times I act like a toddler and take off on my own. Thank you for your constant, watchful presence, for those times you’ve grabbed things from my grasp because you knew they were not in my best interest. Thank you for instructing me through your word and through wise, godly people. Slowly but surely you have equipped me with the knowledge of your ways–ways that are good and right. Then you’ve patiently trained me to follow those ways. May my heart be set on keeping your decrees to the very end (Psalm 119:112)!
(Photo credit: www.jamesgoldworthy.com.)