Kids know how to push our buttons, and they do it so well! Don’t you just feel so sorry for a mum in the supermarket, with a toddler in full throttle paddy? Arms and legs thrashing in all directions, and screams aimed to attract as much attention as possible, aimed at the total embarrassment of said parent. “Because I WANT it!” And to the wise parents who have endured and not given way, I want to say well done. When it happens, the best bit of all is when the child finally gives way to exhaustion and wraps themselves up in your arms, sobbing and repentant, and falls into a peaceful sleep.
But Pharaoh was no toddler. In Exodus 12:31-32 we read his response to the loss of the first-borns of his whole nation. He had fought and fought against God, opposing the extraction the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt; he had lost every battle as plague after plague had rampaged his country, yet he had refused to give in. Until now. Finally he had to capitulate. He could hold out no longer. He gave permission for them – all of them – to leave, taking all their flocks and possessions with them. The whole sorry episode had blighted the Egyptians so severely, he even made one last request – for their blessing. He was certainly an exhausted leader, resigned to accept defeat.
But one thing he wasn’t, was surrendered. There was no peaceful sleep after his battles. It was acquiescence, not submission. He had been forced to admit to a greater power, but his heart was still fighting.
I can be like that with my Father God. I know he is a great God, I acknowledge his ultimate authority and power, but at times I still want to live MY life MY WAY. I can think of a few instances where I have battled against what I know he wants for me. God will allow pressure to mount, and then I have a choice. I can give in because God is God, and I have to accept that his way is best; or I can come sobbing and repentant into his loving arms, and surrender my whole self to him, trusting him, resting in him, however difficult the path ahead.
That’s why Jesus tells us to come as little children. When we have done with the kicking and screaming, his shoulder is the place we can find rest for our souls.