Mornings at our household may or may not resemble a circus getting kids ready for school. (Parents of more than two children – my hat goes off to you.) We prep the night before, but papers teleport, shoes shrink, or clothes disappear. Someone forgets to brush their teeth or hair – or both. Murphy’s Law requires all of these things and more to happen the mornings we’re most pressed for time.
It was one of those mornings.
My daughter, in kindergarten at the time, and I were wrestling with shoes so I instructed my first grade son to grab his backpack and wait in the car. One less person to herd out the door. My son says,
“Mom, can I wait for you in the car?”
Insert pause while I bite my lip. Hard.
“Yes, son. I just told you to do that. Didn’t you hear me?”
Frankly, I’d have been fine without this lovely teaching moment. Fully aware we might be late to school, I knelt down, channeled my outer calm (‘cuz the inner wasn’t so much), and looked my son in the eyes, “Son, if I tell you do something, you automatically have permission to do it. Do you understand?”
He mumbled something. What mother is not disheartened to discover what she’s tried to teach hasn’t penetrated? I repeated myself. Did he think I was saying this for my own health?
We arrived at school, harried, but on time. I kissed both kids goodbye and said a silent prayer for them. And one of gratitude. I hadn’t completely blown it.
As often happens, the connection didn’t click until later.
How often do my interactions with God look like that interaction with my son? How often does God make plain through the Bible what he expects, but my underwater ears are drowning in my own thoughts, fears, or worries?
I’m so incredibly grateful our Heavenly Father meets us where we’re at. With perfect patience – not my strained kind – he waits for our full attention so he can clarify, “When I command something, permission is inherent.”
Does this simple truth liberate you, too? When I’m paralyzed with fear, confused if I should stay the course, or distracted by rabbit trails, God graciously repeats himself. By cultivating healthy listening habits, I have less use for fear – God empowers those he commands. I don’t have to be confused – God speaks plainly. And I don’t have to be distracted – God hasn’t changed and neither have his instructions.
As Joshua prepared the Israelites to lay claim to the promised land, God reminds Joshua the plan was his idea, not Joshua’s – always a guaranteed success strategy. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9