Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On God and Playgrounds

Maybe it's the fact that I didn't wake up until 11am this morning. Maybe it has something to do with the continual tossing of thoughts in my mind. Whatever the reason may be, I can't sleep. I have decided to use my alertness productively to write this post about something that I was reminded of recently.

About a week ago, I was babysitting for a little boy who doesn't have much to say. Why? Most likely because he's not even one and half yet. Regardless of his conversational skills, this little boy reminded me of something that I want to write about here. Something that God has reminded me of time and time again in subtle ways, like the actions of a one and half year old.

I decided to take this little boy to the playground. When we got there we did the usual playground circuit: slide - ducky spring - slide - zebra spring - swing - slide. That was until a ball came into the picture. A couple of kids showed up with a basketball and the little boy I was watching seemed adamant about getting his hands on it. I explained that it wasn't his in the way that adults often do to small children who they imagine to be old enough to understand and do things like vote or buy lotto tickets. All that he did was look at me perplexed and continued on his ball quest. Then it dawned on me. His mother had packed a small ball in his stroller that sat right outside the fence of the confines of the playground. This was when things got tricky.

I told the boy that there was a ball in his stroller and that all we had to do was leave the playground for a moment to go get it before returning to play. He didn't understand so I picked him up and started to walk towards the fence gate that would take us out of the playground. He really didn't understand. He started to yell and pull away from me. He thought that I was taking him away from the playground forever! It wasn't until we reached the stroller and I showed him the ball that was in it that he started to relax a little. I handed him the ball and we walked back inside the playground where he happily played until lunch time.

Why do I tell you all this? Partially to make you reminiscent of the joys of the playground (I have been feeling nostalgic lately after all...), but more so to reveal a truth that God has been showing me - that what I may see as best for me may only pale in comparison to what God has in store. '"For I know the plans I have for you," declared the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). How often I forget this! I make my plans and do my best to keep my plans. I strategize the best possible way to get what I want, all the while paying little attention to what God wants.

Seeing that little boy react so negatively to being taken away from the playground to get a ball - the thing that he really wanted all along - was eye opening for me. He didn't understand. I tried to explain it to him, but my foresight was just bigger than his. I could imagine him happily playing with the ball the way that he eventually did, even as we walked away from it's gates and he began to yell. I could things that he couldn't. I had a plan that would bring him what he wanted, but he only saw it as me taking everything that was fun away from him. I have to wonder how often this same struggle takes place between God and myself. More often than not, I am certain.

This reminder is especially significant to me at this moment in my life. I am laying in the lap of uncertainty. Uncertainty about work. Uncertainty about relationships. But God has reminded me through this little boy that I can be certain about one thing - really the only thing that matters. I can be certain about God. When everything else is hectic and foggy, God remains clear. His love and willingness to listen and help are endless in capacity. No matter the circumstance, God is ready for action!

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." -Psalm 32:8

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." -Proverbs 3:5-6

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." -Proverbs 16:9


Heather said...

nicole, that was really beautiful and a great reminder of how our perspective and God's perspective differ. thanks for sharing!

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