I have just had the immense privilege of helping to care for my two-year-old grandson for a week. It’s been a while since I’ve cared for a toddler, and I found myself pulling out ancient tactics and memories to help me keep up with the active little guy. Hopefully, I taught him a few little things, like how to hug trees and the names of the flowers in the yard and how to play Calvinball with a plastic baseball bat and a rubber bouncy ball .(If you don’t know how to play Calvinball, you have not been reading the right comic strips . . . .)
He also taught me a few things, as well.
“MorMor, MorMor, MorMor!” he whined as I tried to scrape the last bit of yogurt from the nearly empty container. (He calls me MorMor, which is Swedish for “Mother’s mother”.) It was time for breakfast. He was starving! And since he couldn’t see as high as the counter top, he had no idea that I was actually complying with his urgent request for yogurt as quickly as I could. From his perspective, I was dawdling unforgivably, or even ignoring him altogether. I tried to explain to him what I was doing, but he couldn’t hear me over his mantra of “MorMor, MorMor, MorMor!”
I didn’t mind. I kind of like hearing his sweet little voice chanting my name. But I knew that his frustration would be lessened if he would just listen to me. Maybe not by much, but a bit.
And then, before serving him his breakfast, I needed to change his diaper and clean his snotty little face and hands. To a toddler, this foray into hygiene was an entirely unnecessary delay and had nothing to do with getting what he wanted.
I know you all know where this is going. How often do we bring our requests to God with all the patience and understanding of two-year-olds? Chanting the same words over and over in our desperation, we can’t hear His calm, quiet voice assuring us that He has heard and is working on the solution to our problems. With our limited perspectives and equally limited knowledge, we often feel He is ignoring us or at the very least taking an unconscionably long time about answering our prayers. We can’t see all the work and preparation He is engaged in on our behalf, up there on His great counter top.
And then often, instead of just giving us what we think we need, He takes the time to prepare us for receiving it. Like two-year-olds, we so often cannot understand the correlation between the preparation process and the desired end result, and so we resent it and often resist it with all our beings, struggling desperately against processes that are meant for our betterment.
Fortunately, God understands that we are all two-year-olds. Did I feel impatient with my grandson? Of course not! I know he’s two years old and I don’t expect him to act like an adult. And God knows we are but dust. I’m sure He smiles down at us as I smiled at my grandson, explaining to us in small words what we can barely grasp, knowing full well when we aren’t really listening, but continually trying to communicate His love to us all the same.
My little grandson, after being satisfied with a good breakfast, threw his sticky little arms around me and said, “Thanks, MorMor. I love you, MorMor,” and my heart melted. I don’t need thanks, really. I’d do anything for that little guy, even if he never responded to me; but those sweet words are a reward above silver and gold and all precious gems.
Easter proves that God will do anything for us. Absolutely anything. He doesn’t need our thanks or our love in return.
But doesn’t He deserve it?