Last night our 3.5 year old son decided that it would be a good idea to pee in his toy box. So he unzipped, did the deed, then kept on playing with his toys. Took me a few minutes to notice.
I was rather upset.
I'm not anymore, but I admit I was a little shocked. He's our first, so I guess he gets the brunt of our inexperience and has the unique job of breaking us in to parenthood.
There are things that I need to learn about God that are only possible once I became a father. I don't think that being a dad is necessary to spiritual growth. But it sure puts things in focus. I understand a little better how much God loves us as his children. My love for just our 2 sweet kids is just the faintest reflection of God's love - if even that. A fleck of sea spray compared to his ocean. A molecule, a proton in his universe. I don't know how to go larger in the difference, but you get the point. I don't have to work to love my kids. I just do. Because they are.
I discipline them because I know they need it if they are to survive and thrive in the world in which we live. I teach them what is dangerous or useless or beneficial. I get disappointed in them but never stop loving them. I mean, both our children have a combined age of less than 6, so I'm not so much disappointed as I am flabbergasted momentarily at the creativity with which they demonstrate their sinful natures.
When Jesus wept over Jerusalem and expressed his desire to put them under his wing as a mother hen - I get that now like never before. Every day, however, is a new test as a parent. A new...something to keep us on our toes. Marriage and parenthood are the primary crucibles in which the Lord makes me more like Him. They are the testing ground, the examination, the weight room where no bombs explode, no Scan-trons are bubbled in and no bar bells clang but growth happens. And I can't really explain how other than that the Lord uses my wife and kids to grow me up. A lot. Every day.
While, were we not to have children, I would have more time to meditate and read and study, I would not be very grown up in my faith. I just wouldn't. I don't think that's axiomatic; it doesn't apply to everyone. But it sure applies to me. And I am so thankful that the Lord, in his marvelous wisdom and grace chose to bless me with such beautiful and brilliant and sometimes belligerent tutors.
And so begins another day to grow a little more. Of course the bonus of toddler snuggles and kisses and giggles helps soften the blow. At least a little. Or maybe more than that.