Tag Archives: Toddler

Humanity in the Toddler Stage

At that time the Lord said to me, “Carve out two tablets of stone like the former ones, and come up to me on the mountain, and make an ark of wood. I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets, which you smashed, and you shall put them in the ark.”
Deuteronomy 10:1-2 (NRSV)

For many years now I’ve been mulling over a concept that the story of God’s relationship with humanity is the story of a parent (God) and child (humanity). When humanity began in Genesis and the early chapters of the story, it reminds me of infancy. There was something innocent and naive; there was very little knowledge or understanding of God. Humanity was undeveloped. Life was messy and base.

With the story of Moses and the giving of the law in the book of Deuteronomy, it feels to me that we’re in the toddler stages of the relationship. God has to do a lot for them. Rules are simple and direct and put in black and white terms. Good behavior is rewarded and bad behavior is swiftly punished. Humanity, meanwhile, is strong willed, stubborn, willful, and…well…childish.

I was reminded of this concept again in today’s chapter. Moses, in his unchecked emotional tantrum, threw the stone tablets God made for him on which the ten commandments were inscribed and smashed them in pieces. God’s response? Like a true parent God tells Moses, “Now you’ve done it. You smashed the tablets I made you. Well, you’re going to have to replace them, young man. I’m not making you another set. You’re going to have to learn to take care of the things I give you. Now, make yourself tablets to replace the ones I gave you and I’ll inscribe them for you.” The replicas would be a word picture, a constant reminder to Moses (and the rest of the family) of his tantrum and its consequences.

In our weekly gatherings of Jesus followers we’re doing a series of messages on how we tend to confuse our relationship with our earthly father and our relationship with our heavenly Father. The former quite regularly distorts the latter. I tend to believe that this is part of the DNA of creation and it requires generous doses of wisdom, discernment and grace to untangle the two. At the same time, it also helps me see events like those in today’s chapter with greater clarity.

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 33

Crying (Photo credit: Onion)

The Lord looks down from heaven
    and sees the whole human race.
From his throne he observes
    all who live on the earth.
He made their hearts,
    so he understands everything they do.
Psalm 33:13-15 (NLT)

The other night we were at our friends’ house. Wendy and I had brought the gift of books for their two young boys and enjoyed watching them unwrap their gifts. It was fascinating to watch as the older child spied to see what the younger child got (“Did he get a better book than me??!”), then attempted to grab little brother’s book right out his hands for inspection. We then watched as the younger one played the victim card with pitch perfect precision: screams of rage and crocodile tears turned on with an invisible switch on his brain. Back and forth the sibling rivalry and angst flowed. The adults watched with patient understanding and the parents did their best to navigate the bubbling cauldron of childish emotions.

God reminds us time and time again that our relationship with Him is that of parent and child. To God, we must all be like little children acting out. Even as adults, our emotional tirades and self-centered actions must seem to Father God as the acts of a toddler to us.

Today, I’m glad that my heavenly Father knows my heart, even when this grown up child is naughty.

Chapter-a-Day Leviticus 15

Person washing his hands
Image via Wikipedia

God spoke to Moses and Aaron: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, When a man has a discharge from his genitals, the discharge is unclean. Whether it comes from a seepage or an obstruction he is unclean. He is unclean all the days his body has a seepage or an obstruction.” Leviticus 15:1 (MSG)

When my daughters were young, the word for “unclean” was “acky” (toddler-ese derivative of the word “yucky”). Kids need a clear understanding of what things are acceptable and which things are “acky” because they could maim you, burn you, give you intestinal problems (and let’s face it – the diapers are nasty enough without compounding the issue), spread a communicable disease (we’d like to abandon our “pink-stuff-of-the-month” subscription with the local pharmacy, thank you), or outright kill you (dad gets blamed for enough, he doesn’t need that hanging over his head, too). As a result, there is a period of development when “acky” was a hot topic of conversation.

As I read today’s chapter, I found myself returning to the metaphor of Leviticus being a heavenly Father’s rules for the nation of Israel who were just toddlers in their societal development. Wives have enough trouble with us men who were reared in an advanced civilization and the best educational system in human history. We still fart, belch, spit, scratch, pick and leave unhealthy residue of our bodily emissions on toilets with the seat up. Can you imagine how bad guys must have been living in a tent city in 2500 b.c. without showers, indoor plumbing, laundry facilities and disposable razors?

All of the description about what was “acky” in today’s chapter served layers of purposes. From a societal point-of-view, it helped protect the nation from communicable disease by prescribing ceremonial washing of things that could easily carry all sorts of nasty germs and viruses. From a spiritual point-of-view, it reminded the people that they served a holy (and clean) God.

Today, I’m reminded that [wait for it….] “cleanliness is next to godliness.”

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Chapter-a-Day Jeremiah 13

scream and shout
Image by mdanys via Flickr

Do I hear you saying,
   “What’s going on here? Why me?”
The answer’s simple: You’re guilty,
   hugely guilty.
Your guilt has your life endangered,
   your guilt has you writhing in pain. Jeremiah 13:22 (MSG)

I’m reminded this morning of being a child, sent to my room because my dad caught me swearing. It was summer. It wasn’t even 8:00 p.m. yet and the sun would be shining bright for another hour or more. Out of my upstairs bedroom window I could hear the sounds of the neighborhood kids continuing the game of kick-the-can from which I was pulled to serve my bedroom interment.

“It’s not fair,” my preadolescent brain wanted to argue. But my reasoning couldn’t make it very far. I said the “G.D.” word. There was no getting around it. Arguing that dad misunderstood what I said would be an exercise in futility. His hearing wasn’t that bad.

My brain continued to spin. I wanted to blame my brothers. They were the ones who taught me those words. They swore all the time (and never got caught). But, I knew that argument would go nowhere. Dad was judge, jury and executioner. He wouldn’t buy it. “It still doesn’t excuse you saying it,” I heard his voice saying in my brain.

I had to face the facts. I was stuck in my room, and it was my own “g.d.” fault.

Like children cloaked in adults bodies, I still find myself and others clinging to “why me?” sorrows while wallowing in the muck of our own making. We drive like demons on wintery roads and grieve the tickets and body shop bills. We ignore relational pains and then wonder why the relationship broke apart. We eat too much, sit in front of the television, and despair when our clothes don’t fit.

There are times when tragedy strikes without warning and wreaks havoc on life in unjust ways. However, like a child confined to his room and trying unsuccessfully to spin a plausible defense, I have to confess that much life pain is simply the consequences of my own making.

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