It was a picture perfect Spring evening for baseball as I took my two sons to their first minor league game.
The sun was setting, there was a nice warm breeze blowing through the stadium, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We ate popcorn. We devoured peanuts. We even got to watch a train pass close by the stadium, which always is a treat for the kids.
After a couple of innings we visited the playground located outside the foul line in left field. My sons were having a blast.
We had passed this empty stadium multiple times on the highway, and my oldest had said he longed to see a game there. So here we were, in that very stadium that my son wanted to visit, doing presumably everything he wanted to do.
Then it came time to leave. He didn’t mind leaving, but he wanted cotton candy first. Never mind that I had not promised him cotton candy, that it was too late to eat anything that sugary, that I had already bought him a ticket, and a popcorn, and a bottled water, and that he was able to play on that playground for so long that he was tired. He wanted cotton candy, and he wasn’t leaving until he had it.
I told him no, and he got mad. He raised his voice. He cried. Even stomped his feet. We went to the car with him upset and me wondering how that situation could have been avoided. And he didn’t get any cotton candy.
When our children are selfish and ungrateful, what are we to learn? I think God is telling us something – about ourselves. The Bible draws many parallels between the relationship between God the Father and His children (Christians), and earthly parents and their children. Often, our children serve as a mirror of our own actions. It’s as if God is holding up a full-length mirror and screaming from heaven, “Look!”
Here are three lessons to consider:
1. We, too, are ungrateful. When my son or daughter or your son or daughter is ungrateful, we are getting a vivid yet honest reminder from God of our own sin – a small glimpse of what our sin looks like to a holy God. When the Apostle Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing,” he certainly had in mind living in a constant state of gratefulness for our blessings. But how often do we thank God for the basics of life — food, housing, health, clothes, a job – much less the things He gives us that we “desire” (that car, that boat, that vacation)? And even when we mumble a prayer, how often are we truly grateful?
2. We, too, are prone to forget our blessings. How many times have you prayed to God and received the answer that you desired, only to forget it quickly and six months later wonder in your heart, “Why has God abandoned me?” We forget that God has blessed us multiple times in multiple ways, over and over, abundantly. We are prone to forget, to stray, to wonder. We’re like every other person who only remembers what happened five minutes ago – the meaningless Facebook post, the pointless TV show. It’s the “what have you done for me lately?” syndrome. We want the cotton candy.
3. We, too, rebel against God. So often, it’s when we’re living in the midst of God’s blessings that we’re prone to sin. Deep down, we begin to credit ourselves for our blessings, forgetting that all good things come from God (James 1:17) and that He is due praise for every blessing in life. In our sinful heart, we begin even to wonder if we need God. In other words, our spiritual life often hits rock-bottom when God is blessing us the most. Just like I did to my sons, God may pour blessings on our lives – the “popcorn,” the “peanuts.” But he’s still not buying us the cotton candy.
Michael Foust is an editor and writer who blogs about parenting and fatherhood. He loves his family and also really likes popcorn. Interested in re-posting this in your publication or on your blog for free? Send me a message in the comments section below (the message won’t go public).
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