Profound Clarity From a Three Year Old1
Profound Clarity From a Three Year Old
Children have a gift for cutting through the often ornamental language of adults to expose the fact of the matter; brutally so sometimes! I recall a Dennis the Menace comic strip from years ago in which Dennis, in his matter-of-fact way strides over to his often targeted neighbor, Mr. Wilson. He rings the doorbell and when Mr. Wilson answers, Dennis inquisitively asks, "where is your other face?" To this, Mr. Wilson answers with obvious trepidation, "What are you talking about...this is my only face!" To which Dennis responds, "Well Mom said you had two faces!" Oops!
I had a similar, illuminating exchange with my nearly three year old granddaughter last week. We kept her and her brother for a few days and she...live-wire that she is, was ricocheting like a pin ball from one forbidden activity to the next, each time receiving a mild but escalating scolding from my wife or me. Finally she attained to the pinnacle of all the forbidden activities in our home...jumping up and down on the couch...an activity which usually requires the removal of all the cushions. Determined to communicate my seriousness I rose from my recliner, pointed my finger rigidly toward her, raised my voice to a firm, demanding tone and said "GET DOWN...NOW!" That got her attention and she jumped down one last time...looked me dead in the eye with a grimace...folded her tiny arms, and declared forcefully, "GIVE ME BACK TO MYSELF!"
A Blow for Three Year Olds
We couldn’t help laughing, but she was not amused, nor did she see the humor of her statement. She was dead serious! I was glad she didn’t have the physical stature to enforce her demand! After a chuckle or two, and with the living room a little quieter, the profundity of her declaration struck home with me! What clarity! What precision of expression! That little lightening rod of a girl had struck a profound blow for three year olds around the world! Isn’t that their united cry of protest to all adult authority! "Give us back to ourselves!"
A Greater Clarity
Aside from what my experience confirms about the fallen nature of man from his birth, it illuminates something about how we adults...especially Christian adults relate to the authority of our God and His word. We are far to refined to state it so clearly, but I’m afraid my granddaughter’s choice of words is a more accurate reflection of my heart than I would like to believe and perhaps yours as well. We cloak are heart’s intent with phrases like, "Nobody’s perfect" or "We have a choice" or "It’s my right" but don’t we really mean "Give me back to myself?"
Interestingly, this profound choice of words was spoken in the first and second person. My granddaughter seemed to be instinctively aware of two persons (natures) coexisting within her. There was the me speaking and there was the me to which she felt all authority should belong. To the one me demands were made regarding behavior. This she perceived as a taking of me to which she responds give me back. Strange that she should see yielding to adult authority as being taken away, but that’s exactly how she perceived it...thus her forceful demand to be given back. More strange still is that as a Christian, there’s still a spirit within me that resists yielding to the infinitely wise, infallible, and loving authority of my Father in Heaven for fear that I will some how loose myself or be taken away in doing so. I must also point out the second part of my granddaughters’s demand. She wanted to be given back and she states very clearly to whom she was to be given back to...Herself! Rather than yielding herself to our authority she wanted us, by the absence of our demands, to give her back to her self. In reality, it wasn’t "no authority" that she wanted. Rather, she wanted "all authority" to rest in her....in her self! She wanted her self to be the ultimate and final authority governing her behavior...not her grandparents.
Frightfully illuminating! Is this not at the heart of our resistance to the authority of our God? Was this not the very desire of Lucifer himself to exalt himself above God? Is it not his present desire that all authority should rest with him?
So then, when we find ourselves uncomfortable with the demands of our God as revealed in the Scriptures; when we’re reluctant to obey them; when follow them selectively or begrudgingly, is this not one and the same as saying to Him,
"Give Me Back to Myself!"
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
My granddaughter may have a lifetime of fighting the self in her as she tries to yield to her Heavenly Father but at least for now...she’s described with extraordinary and sobering clarity what the battle really is!
May the Lord be so gracious to each of us!