Dec 3, 2010
For Your Own Good
Gabe is a funny little dude. He is VERY opinionated and stubborn - possibly more than either of his siblings. It is very difficult to get him to do something that he doesn't want to do. I can threaten him, bribe him, try to force him. But he gets this little stubborn scowl on his face and just keeps whispering, "NO!" At least he usually is quiet in his rebellion. He is a sweet kid, but - like a fudge ripple through vanilla ice cream - there is this ribbon of hard-headedness that runs through his middle.
Today, the fight was over his shoes. Don't ask me to explain this, but he gets a weird attachment to whatever pair he is wearing. Years ago, he hated wearing shoes. Finally, we got him to wear these blue sandals. When he started to outgrow them, we tried to transition to a Thomas the Train pair of sneakers. He flipped his lid. For weeks, he refused to wear them. He would fight us when we put them on. And then he would tear them off. Finally he changed his mind - I don't even remember what made him do it. Well, when those shoes got too small we bought him a pair of brown sandals. Same thing happened. Fight, scream, kick, take off, grudging acceptance.
We are now in a place where these sandals are getting tight. But, there is the added dimension that winter is rolling into Tallahassee. Today, the low was 26 when we woke up. Next week we have lows of 20 and 21 forecast. It just isn't the smartest thing to wear sandals in that weather - especially since he loves ripping his shoes off the second he's in his car seat. The truth is he hates shoes and only wears them for the briefest of moments. A couple weeks ago, we bought him a pair of blue casual shoes - kind of like that skater sneaker design. Nice shoes. Not to Gabe.
On his first day of school, I tried to put them on. It was like trying to put socks on a cat. He was flailing all over the place. I finally forced the socks and shoes on him and he ripped them off within a minute. Anyone who has a two or three year old knows, some wars just aren't worth it. So he's been wearing his sandals. Every so often we'll drag the blue shoes out and try them. "NO! I want my BROWN shoes!" Today, though, it just didn't seem responsible to put those sandals on him. It's stinking cold! (No rude comments from people in Buffalo or Connecticut.)
We had started preparing him last night by talking about the blue shoes. "No. Brown shoes." I thought we had made some progress before bed, but this morning it was back to the same point. "NO! Brown shoes." When I went to get him dressed, I brought out the blue shoes and socks. He ran and got his brown shoes and started carrying them around. He went up to all of us, trying to convince us (even the kids) why he should wear brown shoes. I laid him down to get him changed and dressed. "BROWN SHOES! BROWN SHOES!" He's crying now about the shoes. Deep down, I don't give a rip if he wears the blue shoes. I just don't want him to be cold. I have a small thought. This is only going to get ugly. What if I can at least get him to wear socks with the brown sandals?
I start putting the socks on and he's flailing around like I'm trying to put a costume on him. (Oh, yeah, that's the worst thing I can do to him.) I get one sock on and then really quick jam the brown shoe on. "LOOK! Brown shoes WITH socks! Eh? Sound good?" I get the other one on quick. He's crying. "Go show Mommy! She wants to see your shoes." He wanders over to her, crying about the injustice. Finally, he realized he sort of won and he was fine. I even got him to keep his shoes on in the car! (If he had take the shoes off, the socks would have gone next and I never would have gotten them back on.) Of course, the same battle was brewing when I went to put his Cars hoodie on instead of his WALL-E jacket.
The ridiculous thing is that it was for his own good. I didn't want him cold. I'm not trying to be mean. I just know better that you need to bundle up when it's that cold outside. In that moment, it struck me how much like children we are when it comes to God. He's sitting there, knowing what is best for us. And we're getting angry over dumb little things - the equivalent to which shoes we want to wear. The whole time, God is saying, "It's for your own good!" We just don't care - we want to wear our WALL-E jacket and sandals.
I started thinking about Defender Ministries. We have been kind of drifting along for almost six years now. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are supposed to do this ministry. We have been given a message. And we know that God is guiding us into the different realms we address. But it seems to be kind of stuck in low gear. For years, we have tried to get things going. We have tried partnerships, meeting with big shot pastors and speakers, going to to conferences, mailing out stuff. All the stuff marketing firms tell you to do. But those things yield surprisingly little results. We get upset and wonder why. Why doesn't the money come in? Why don't we hear anything back from people. And it seems like God says, "I'm protecting you. It's for your own good." But we get upset because we want things to be different.
I do it in my personal life. Why can't there be more financial security? We aren't things easier? Why can't these kids calm down? I want things done my way and don't think about how God knows best. Or I don't care. It isn't until I truly do calm down and hand things over to Him that I gain peace. I realize that everything is for my own good. I look at these years in Tallahassee, which have been very hard. And I wouldn't trade them for the world. I am a better man, a thinner man, a calmer man, a more trusting and faithful man. This was for my own good - as bad as I wanted to stay in Orlando. But if I had stayed there, I would have stayed where I was in so many ways.
Even with Defender, God has been showing us that His plan is truly incredible. Stuff has happened in the last few months that has blown our minds - and it still is. We just needed to trust Him and let it happen. Everything has built to this point. And now, we are just stunned. We are praying and saying, "God, you had a plan the whole time! It all built to this." And He's nodding, saying, "It was for your own good." Finally the lesson is sinking in. Sure, it has taken six years. Maybe I should be more patient with Gabe...