Mikey. I can just see him standing there. A mass of blonde curly hair. Big blue eyes framed by long dark lashes. A really beautiful child, but mischief incarnate! In those days, all special school classrooms had a cupboard full of jigsaws, all correctly boxed, and with each piece carefully coded as to which box it belonged in. And Mikey was a reason for the coding. His chief pleasure was to watch out for a distraction, then head off for the jigsaw cupboard, and swiftly sweep the whole lot into one jigsaw mountain. Off course you could make him pick up every piece, but with his learning disabilities, it had to fall back on staff to sort every piece into its allotted box. Still you couldn’t help but love him! His adoptive mother adored him. She must have been a saint. She would record his misdemeanours in his home/school communication book, which often made for a quiet chuckle as we staff read it each morning. We of course reciprocated with the events of his school day. As each book filled up, she stored it away carefully, so that she would be able to look back and read it when Mikey was no longer with us. Because as well as his limited learning, with his condition Mikey also had a very limited life expectancy.
Sometimes I wonder if God looks on us like that. Total despair at our limited ability to get life right, but utter love to never give up on us. I love that when God sent the Egyptians the plague of thunder and hail (Exodus 9:13-35), he provided for them by protecting the later ripening crops of spelt and wheat (v32). I love that Moses knew that Pharaoh and his officials were not genuinely repentant, but prayed for the hail to cease anyway (v30). I love that God knew Pharaoh was hard-hearted, but still gave him opportunity after opportunity to make good (v35). And I love that the whole purpose of the plagues was not just to extricate the Israelites from their bondage of slavery, but that the people of Egypt might come to know the unsurpassing power and love of the one true God, and the pure impotence of the Egyptian gods; that they might know that “the earth is the Lord’s” (v29). God just did not want to give up on them.
And I love, how I love, that God does not want to give up on me. Or any other humans. And really, like Mikey, we all have a limited life expectancy. He gave Pharaoh and the Egyptians free will. The continual wrong choices led to more plagues, and eventual devastation. But that was their choice. And he gives us free will too. We choose our own future. Clashing heads with Almighty God can only lead to disaster. He longs for us to make right choices and spend our lives and all eternity enjoying his company, in fellowship with him, the only place of real freedom.