Mornings at our household may or may not resemble a circus getting kids ready for school. 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 to happen on the mornings we’re most pressed for time.
It was one of those mornings.
My daughter and I were wrestling with shoes so I instructed my then seven-year-old son to grab his backpack and wait for us in the car. One less person to herd out the door. My son responds, “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, stayed calm, 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 a large percentage of 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 my interaction with my son that morning? How often does God make plain what he expects, but my underwater ears are drowning in my own thoughts, fears, or worries?
I’m so grateful our Heavenly Father meets us where we’re at. With perfect patience, not my strained kind, he waits for us to look up and give him our full attention so he can clarify, “When I command something, permission is inherent.”
Does this simple truth liberate you, too? We can relax and know whatever God said hasn’t changed. No derailment necessary. His commands give us irrevocable permission to follow them. In a kindness-starved world often confused about what good looks like, this might just be what we need to confidently and graciously stay the course.
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 NIV)