That's a loaded question. I asked this question of my kids tonight before reading from the Bible. I first asked them to go get their favorite toy. Josiah returned with his Nerf football which is more important in the morning than his own hat and mittens though the bus stop is freezing these days. Alayna returned with her unicorn pillow-pet that she sleeps with each night clutched tightly in a hug on her lap looking cute as a button. Seth brought back his spiderman fourwheeler and spiderman riding on top imagining it flying and reving the engine as loudly as his voice could make it. Can you picture them all sitting on the bed half listening to me and half wrapped up in their toy?
I opened up to Genesis 22:1-13. "Do you trust me?" I said before reading. one by one they all answered, "Yes, daddy." Then we read the story of Abraham being told to sacrifice Isaac stopping along the way to see if they understood how hard it may have been, what they must have been feeling, and how they obeyed anyway. Josiah knew and remembered this story from another time. Alayna was visibly disturbed as we read. Seth imagined having a fire in the backyard and jumping over it when we got to the part about Isaac being the burnt offering. Not exactly the point but he heard something in the story. Finally, in the end, God substitutes the ram for Isaac. "Do you trust me?" I said again.
"Take your toy and put it in that trash can over there." Decision time.
Josiah with a smirk on his face got up and put the football in as if to say, "I know you are tricking us dad so I will play your game." Seth and Alayna held tight. "Seth, do mommy and daddy love you and want what is best for you?" He nods yes.
"Do you trust us?"
"Yes but I love my spiderman more."
"Oh no, Seth, Josiah trusts us and put his football in, do you think you can trust us too."
He decided to put it in pretty much due to pressure but it got there which I considered a huge victory for a 4-year-old. Alayna held tight and refused. "Alright, time for bed." As Alayna goes by she reluctantly puts the unicorn in. This is when it all falls apart. Alayna goes weeping to her bed. Seth collapses on his bed wailing face deep in a now wet pillow case. Josiah cuddles up with Seth and also starts crying out of empathy for his little brother who was so sad and didn't understand.
15 feet away the treasure of the whole world sat in a small blue trash can. As Michelle counseled Alayna, I decided that my plan to let the toys sit until morning as my perfectly trusting children went perfectly contently to bed had been demolished in front of my eyes.
I decided to attempt to recover the lesson by getting Josiah's football out and in full view of the weeping untrusting others give back to the one who had trusted without answers. Super-spiritual dad to the rescue? Oh no, FAIL. Alayna decided she would trust, in the hopes that she would get her unicorn back immediately. More weeping. Is there any hope in this lesson?
The next thing I know Josiah disappears and returns with streams of tears and spiderman perched atop the fourwheeler. He presented it to Seth like it was a trophy set on top of his open hand. "Where is your football Josiah?" Amidst the emotion, he squeeks out the words, "It's in the trash can, I don't want Seth to be sad anymore." There is the hope. He who has gives what he has so that he who does not have, can now have what he does not deserve.
Josiah did what God does for all of us. God full of grace and compassion gave his Son to people who don't deserve it. What response would be appropriate after a gift like that? Seth quickly got up and returned with the unicorn and the football. Seth loved the one who gave him what he did not deserve and loved others who did not deserve it. There was A LOT of emotion last night during family time, yet there was a lesson that was learned for all of us. Do we REALLY trust Him?
I went into it thinking I was the teacher who needed to impart to my children. God had a better plan.
As you reflect on the gift of Jesus given in the form of a baby to live the life you could not live to die the death you should have died, what is your response? Is it to love God and love others? If not, could it be that way tomorrow? Why not?
Can you see yourself in the initial response of my children? At one time or another I am probably like all three of them. Are you like Josiah thinking that this God thing is a game and if you play it the right way you get what you want? Are you like Seth and doing the right things because of the pressure of those around you? Are you like Alayna holding so tightly to what you love that you can't follow God? There is hope for all of us. Let's celebrate that this Christmas!