We’ve just celebrated Mother’s Day here in the UK, when all the kids tell their mums how much they love them, and thank them for all the things they’ve done for them. I’ve been very blessed with some lovely flowers and chockies too. My kids are all grown up now, and I’m really proud of them all, but getting them there…that was another story! Not that any of them were really that difficult, but parenting is …shall we say, even a best challenging? To a 5 year old, it does seem a bit restrictive that they are not allowed to run across the road, or play with fire, or practice kung foo moves on little brother at the top of the stairs. And then there are the parental nags and demands like washing hands before meals, only eating sweets after your meal (when you’re nothing like as hungry anyway) and going to bed when they say, whether you are tired or not. Mmmm… being a child is very demanding you know!
Here was God’s problem in Exodus 16:4-5. This extended family he’d pulled out of slavery was little more than a grumbling, snivelling band of spiritual babies. Getting them from here to becoming a nation that would be a vibrant expression of his love, and a channel for his redemptive purpose in the world, was never going to be easy. They were hungry, and looking at the desert before them, scared, and how they grumbled! They first had to learn that God could provide. So immediately, God caused it to ‘rain’ bread for them. He also made it a learning opportunity, by including some small steps towards trusting and obeying – they had to take enough for the day most days of the week, but then gather double one day a week. Simple enough, though they may not have understood why. It was Stage 1 in recognising that God was a good parent who would only give them instructions for their benefit. And there was a long way to go!
I may not understand all the commands God gave in the bible, or even why living the Christian life is sometimes quite hard. But I am learning to trust that God only gives good gifts to his children. And if it’s something I can’t have, or something I shouldn’t do, then it isn’t something good for me. Even if it doesn’t seem to make sense. Whether I understand it or not.
Being around little kids, whether they are our own or others’, helps us to see what a hard job God has in bringing us up to become spiritually mature, healthy grown-up Christians. Mother’s Day was so rewarding for me. Just think how proud God is of us when we get life right.