Earlier this week, I found myself on a morning walk, drawing comparisons between the Israelites and my eldest.
I promise it started off like a sincere prayer. “Lord, please help my son to stop being a ridiculous whiner, and help me to deal patiently with him.” And then somehow, it quickly spiraled into a finger-pointing, mind-creating list of all logical relations between those desert whiners and my very own flesh and blood. And by the time my sneakers had hit the front porch, not only was I no longer sure if I was raising a Caden or a Canaanite, but I was also armed and ready to raise my mother staff and call down some righteous commands on my resident grumbler.
But before I had a chance to wield my right-making staff, the Spirit had a thing or two to say about my own heart. And all of a sudden, the tables quickly turned, and that speck in my son’s complaining eye had turned into a rather large plank in my own grumbling eye.
1. We can be dramatic lunatics.
My Child: “I don’t want to be your kid anymore!!!”
The Israelites: “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Numbers 14:2
And Me: “Lord, are you trying to break me, run me into the ground, and/or send me over the spiritual ledge?”
2. We can be whiny blame-shifters.
My Child: “You let Evie ruin my coloring book…it’s your fault, Mommy!!!”
The Israelites: “But on the next day all the congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and against Aaron, saying, ‘You have killed the people of the Lord.’ ” Numbers 16:41
And Me: “If they had just told us sooner, then we wouldn’t be in this position.”
3. We can be demanding tyrants.
My Child: “No, Mommy. You pick it up; I didn’t make that mess.”
The Israelites: “So they quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink. ‘ ” Exodus 17:2
And Me: “Why won’t you just give us an answer?!?!?”
4. We can be grumpy grumblers.
My Child: “But that’s not fair…I don’t want to brush my teeth…go to bed…pick up my toys…eat my food…”
The Israelites: “And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, ‘Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’ ” Exodus 17:3
And Me: “I’m so tired of this waiting game!”
5. We can be ungrateful pistols.
My Child: “I don’t want to eat that food; I don’t like those green things!”
The Israelites: “And the people of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.’ ” Numbers 11:4-6
And Me: “Lord, why can’t you just open a door for us?”
6. We can be rebellious hellions.
My Child: “You aren’t in charge of me!”
The Israelites: “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Exodus 32:1
And Me: “I’m tired of trusting…I’m SO over this.”
7. We can be forgetful sinners.
My Child: “You never buy me anything! You never play with me!”
The Israelites: “They said to Moses, ‘Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’ ” Exodus 14:11-12
And Me: “Why do you always open doors for them and say ‘yes’ to them?”
8. We can be fearful children.
My Child: “But that’s going to be too scary for me!”
The Israelites: ” ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.’ So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, ‘The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height.’ ” Numbers 13:31-32
And Me: “Are we going to be stuck in this place forever?”
9. We can believe ‘He’ doesn’t see and doesn’t hear.
My Child: “Mommy!?!?! I need your help now! Can’t you see?!?! I can’t do this by myself!”
The Israelites: “The LORD said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.’ ” Exodus 3:7
And Me: “Don’t you see that we’re trying to honor you, trust you, and obey you?!?!?!”
10. We can conclude ‘He’ doesn’t care.
My Child: “You don’t love me anymore; you just love Evie.”
The Israelites: ” ‘O Lord, why have you done evil to this people …and you have not delivered your people at all.’ ” Exodus 5:22-23
And Me: ” If you really loved us, then why would you ask us to walk this path?”
Oh, Lord. Let me be gracious with my son’s dramatic, whiny, demanding, grumpy, ungrateful, rebellious, forgetful, fearful, unbelieving heart just as YOU are gracious with your daughter’s whiny, demanding, grumpy, ungrateful, rebellious, forgetful, fearful, unbelieving heart.