She should have known better than to return to the dinner table without washing her hands. We were even eating finger foods. But when I asked her if she washed her hands, she defiantly said, “No.” I asked nicely for her to walk back to the bathroom to wash her hands and she refused. So I did what any good babysitter would do; I scooped up my 3 year-old friend and walked her back to the bathroom thinking we could still rectify this situation quickly.
Twenty minutes later, I had baracaded the bathroom doorway with my body and my 3 year-old friend was throwing a tantrum on the floor with tears in her big blue eyes. If she didn’t need to wash her hands before, after spending ten minutes pounding her hands against the bathroom floor, she sure needed to now.
I pulled out the limited tricks I know about trying to convince kids to do what they don’t want to do to much avail. The tears were staining my little friend’s face and she was no more convinced that she did, indeed, need to wash her hands.
I shook my head as I sent an SOS text to my best friend who spends all day working with children. Why wouldn’t my 3 year-old friend listen to me? Didn’t she know that if she would have listened right away, she would have saved herself some pain? I know better than she does. And, as her brothers lovingly reminded her, “Miss Caitlin is in charge.”
But here’s the thing: I may have been the babysitter that night, but I’m usually the tantruming three year-old sprawled out on the bathroom floor. Instead of letting God gently correct my disobedience, I wage an all out war. I could choose to repent quickly, acknowledging His sovereignty over my life, but I claim to know better. Full of arrogance, I ignore that He actually knows what’s not just good for me, but He wants what’s best for me.
I meant no ill by making my three year-old friend wash her hands. I wanted to protect her. I didn’t want her to get sick. I wanted to make sure she was developing healthy habits. I wanted to reinforce the right behavior.
Sometimes God feels like an unfamiliar babysitter simply enforcing rules that don’t even make sense to me. But He’s in it with me and simultaneously aware of the end result. He wants to coach me into being a person who better reflects His glory. But as any athlete knows, a coach is more than a cheerleader. A coach instructs, encourages and when necessary, corrects.
It’s that correcting that hurts and that I hate. Can’t I just get a pat on the back, Jesus? If my goal and His goal is growth and sanctification, then the correcting is not only important, but necessary. I need to remember why He’s doing it. When God says, “No,” or corrects my behavior, He is doing it for my good. He is doing it because He loves me.
God sees the whole picture when I do not. Just like my little friend who once she decided that she would wash her hands still didn’t understand why, I need to remember the correcting is not malicious. He doesn’t mean harm. He loves me. He wants what’s best for me.