Someone once told me that the early years of parenting are physically exhausting but the next phase takes more of an emotional toll. Well, I think I have entered that next emotionally exhausting phase. It seems that every moment with a now 7 year old, first grader has the potential to be a teachable one. And the thought of missing out on a opportunity to mold my kids into God-fearing people and keep them safe in this scary world is truly exhausting to my psyche.
This week I noticed a tendency in my son that is so much like me that it is frightening. During a fun, light-hearted adventure to the bowling alley on our snow day Tuesday, my boy became rather grouchy when he realized his bowling skills were slightly sub par and there was a small chance his little sister might beat him. I attribute it to the fact that it had been some time since he had any practice with it. He attributes it to being “not good at any sport”. If you know my son, you know there is nothing further from the truth. He has a whole lot of natural athletic ability which combined with hard work will hopefully pay off for him in the future.
I wish I could chalk this whole bowling episode up to a healthy bit of competitiveness, but the frightening observation I made was his quick jump from confidence and excitement to complete timidity and defeat in the face of a challenge. A few gutter balls after not bowling in a year and he talked himself into being a failure at any and all sports. How similar it is for me when God sets a challenging task in my path. I feel Him nudge and hear His promises to equip me. I set out confident and excited, but then I glimpse the inconvenience, the stretching it might require of me. How quickly and easily I am able to talk myself into defeat!
Interestingly there were some others that were much like my son and me in this way. Even more interesting (and hardly coincidental) that I would study this particular passage of the Bible this week. What was meant as a faith-building experience of Moses sending twelve spies from the tribes of Israelites to go explore the land “flowing with milk and honey” becomes yet another excuse for fear and grumbling from the Chosen people. Despite hearing God’s promises time and again and then seeing such fertile land that yielded clusters of grapes too heavy for one man to carry alone, their focus was on the Giants. Conquering the rather large and strong descendants of Anak in order to inhabit the land of Canaan seemed too impossible of a task. Out of the twelve that brought a report back, there were only two that explored the promise with eyes of faith. The rest assumed defeat.
Despite knowing God’s faithfulness to be true, I too so often forget to explore His promises with eyes of faith. I so often lack the courage to see His calling through without assuming defeat when my focus is on the “Giants”. And now I see this starting in my own.
If only I can be more like Caleb who chose to focus on the milk and honey. If only I can be less like the Israelites who continually tried to turn back to what was comfortable and grumbled in the face of possible failure. If only I were more like Joshua and Caleb who tore their clothing in despair at the unbelief of the others. Better yet, if I could be like humble Moses who stood on God’s unchanging character and was determined to see His Promises through.
If all of this were more true of me, perhaps it will also be true of my boy.