June 29, 2016

straying from the path :: yet another spiritual lesson from parenting

At this phase of life, God teaches me the most through parenting. The way I love my kids more than they can imagine, the sacrificing and laying down my life for them, and the things I find myself saying to them are the prominent way I am learning about how God cares for me.
Yesterday, we were in the woods on an archaeological dig looking for dinosaur bones (as you do), and, as always, we ended up playing in the creek.
It is probably my kids favorite thing ever to explore along the creek, throwing in rocks and clambering across logs to get to the other side. To them, it is a bit dangerous, but I am always right by their side, and I think a little risk is good for kids. Our big rule is that they have to be able to see me, which means that they need to look over their shoulders every once in a while to make sure I am still within view. If they can't see me, but they hear me call, then they better get to where I am, and fast.
While we there yesterday afternoon, I was bent over the creek, throwing rocks with Judah and watching Elle on one side of me. James was on the other side of me, hopping across rocks to get to the other side of the creek, having a great time exploring. I looked away from him for maybe 90 seconds while helping Judah, and when I turned back, he was gone.
This is not super unusual, so I called to him. No answer.
I heard no rustling or jumping sounds, so I called again. Still nothing. I called again and again, walking as far to where he was as I could without abandoning the other two. I tried to fight the panic feeling that I could feel rising up.
What seemed like forever later (although was probably only two minutes) I heard crashing sounds in the bushes and he reappeared, goofy smile on his face, leaping over the rocks towards me.
I reminded myself to be calm but stern, to extend grace but also make him realize that this was serious.
I sat him down on the creek bank where I could watch Elle and Judah, and looked into his eyes.
"James, you really scared me. If terrifies me when I cannot see you and you don't respond to me."
He nodded his head and looked apologetic. I continued,
"You have to be able to see me. You have to keep looking out for me. If you cannot see me, come back to where I am. But when you can no longer hear me, that is when you are really in trouble. That is dangerous."
The words were barely out of my mouth when I felt the Lord whisper "The same goes for you."

We have to look for Him, to make sure He is always within our sight. When we can no longer see Him, we must run back towards Him. But the real danger comes when we cannot hear His voice. When we have gone so far that we are no longer listening for His calling. That is when we get lost and lose our way.

May we always be like James and come crashing back through the bushes to One who keeps us safe and on the right path.

This time a year ago: another spiritual lesson.