Though it happened more than ten years ago, the memory of it still haunts me – even more so today than at the time. It was one of our first arguments as a married couple. My husband offered to do the grocery shopping for the week and took the grocery list all neatly organized and categorized by aisle (his request, as he was not as “familiar” with the layout of the land!). We had shopped many times together but this was Kevin’s first time, since we had married, going it alone! He returned with the groceries and began pulling his treasures out of the bags.
Wait, that’s not the brand of bread I buy! 1% milk? But I drink 2%! I was keeping these thoughts inside my head but as the pile of groceries on the kitchen counter was growing, so was my discontentment. The ice cream was the final straw! Though it was SOOOOO important at the time, truthfully I don’t even remember now what flavor of ice cream I had requested, but it was NOT what he brought home!
To write this all out now, I’m ashamed to see how I responded to the loving attempt Kevin had made to lift one of my burdens that week. But even more, I’m ashamed as I think about how many times that scene has played out over and over through my lifetime.
If it wasn’t the groceries that weren’t just what I wanted, it was the seat I’d been assigned in the classroom, or the neighbors who had moved in to the apartment below me, or the way my baby screamed when nobody else’s baby was screaming, or the way my husband or children’s timetable was different than the way I had planned the day.
In every case I took what was handed to me – ultimately handed to me by the Lord – and spit on it!
Fast forward to Marriage, Year #12.
Now one house, two kids, three cars, and many, many grocery store trips later…
The kids and I are hanging out after the first day of school on a very hot, late summer day when we hear the familiar and welcome sound of the ice cream truck coming. My daughter and I run out the door to catch it, taking orders as we go.
Colin calls out, “I’d like a fudge Popsicle, please!” We return minutes later with our goodies and 7-year-old Colin greets us at the door, “What did you get me, Mom?”
The prankster in me couldn’t resist – “I got you just what you wanted! A banana Popsicle, right?”
I watched as sweet Colin’s face sank just a bit. He thought for no more than half a second and then quickly replied, “Well, I’ll try it!” My heart melted. The Holy Spirit immediately spoke to my heart:
Let the little children lead them.
“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.’”
(Matthew 11:25 NIV)
As I handed Colin the fudge Popsicle he had been hoping for I realized that there was no irony here, just God’s divine way of connecting my present with my past. The ice cream scene with my husband years ago had, in essence, just been repeated. This time with a godly result! Where I had responded with a complaining heart, my 7-year-old had responded with gratefulness for what he had been given and with trust that perhaps what his mama had picked out for him could even be better.
[Now, just so you don’t get the false picture that I’m raising a saint here, I have to add that there are plenty of times when Colin’s heart response is right in step with my own. Like, for example, about 2 hours later when we’d been playing a board game and I said it was time to clean up. That was not what he wanted to hear, and the foot stopping and squeaky, whiny voice that followed showed it!]
Oh, how I must grieve the heart of God my Father over and over! How many times – even in one day – do I respond with a foot-stomp and pouty face (whether literally or not) when what the Lord has handed me is not what I was expecting?? It is in moments like these that I am so grateful that His love for me is not dependent upon my heart of obedience (or lack thereof).
I am so grateful that He is patient with me – even when conviction takes years to bring about a changed heart.
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;…”
I am so grateful that He blesses me, even as I act like a spoiled child and don’t deserve anything!
“…he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;…”
I am so grateful that His forgiveness knows no bounds!
“…as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him…”
(Psalm 103:8-13 NIV)
And I love that He has graciously given me children to both reveal the sins of my heart and, on days like this – to even lead me by their example!
If my words today resonate in your heart, we’d be so blessed to hear from you!
How has the Lord used your spouse and/or your children to reveal the sin in your heart and convict you towards change?
In what area of your life do you need to replace foot-stomping and a pouty face with a grateful heart?
**Watch for news of Throne of Grace’s Fall Sale coming a little after noon (PST) today!**