Teddy came thundering down the stairs, much to his father’s annoyance. “Teddy,” he called, “how many more times have I got to tell you to come down the stairs quietly? Now, go back up and come down like a civilized human being.” There was a silence, and Teddy reappeared in the front room. “That’s better,” said his father. “Now will you always come down stairs like that?” “Fine with me,” Teddy said. “I slid down the bannister.”
An irate woman burst into the baker’s shop and said, “I sent my son in for two pounds of cookies this morning, but when I weighed them there was only one pound. I suggest you check your scales.” The baker looked at her calmly for a moment and then replied, “Ma’am, I suggest you weigh your son.”
There’s a difference between being a kid and an adult, a child and a parent. Scripture says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish things.” When do we grow up? When do we become an adult? 1 Corinthians 14:20 says, “Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants in evil, but in thinking be adults.”
Becoming an adult isn’t a matter of age, of being 18 and voting and going into the military, or 21 and legally being able to drink alcohol. It’s not because you move out of the parents’ house, or have a bigger or more important job, or get married, or have a mortgage or a child or even grandchildren.
We’re adults when we can take a part of ourselves and hand it over to someone else. We’ve made it to God’s will for grown-ups when we realize we’re no longer a child who takes and needs but the one who gives and shares. We’re grown-ups when we can bless our children or others.
Being an adult in God’s eyes takes a conversion from feeling needy, incapable, and not responsible to the much better condition of comprehending your calling, position, and significance. When we understand what is asked of us by our children or demanded of us by our desire to grow up in God’s sight, becoming of full use to the Lord, then we see how we are to be givers of gifts and bestowers of blessings.
Too many however are still waiting to be given before they become givers. They live with a mentality of spiritual scarcity, weakness, and frailty. It’s a mindset steeped in a doubt of abundance. Whether we hear ourselves think it, our doubt sounds like this: “If I give something to someone else, then I will lose what I need.” Adults who have yet to grow to maturity are those who still hang on, who grasp what little they have, not having confidence nor faith in an abundant God.
We’re not fully grown if we believe we don’t have enough to share. If deep down we still see ourselves as not yet having enough blessings inside of us to let any of them out to someone else, then we have yet to come to spiritual adulthood.
We can’t feel needy inside and be a blessing to those outside. How can you feed someone else if you’re still hungry yourself? You can’t be an adult if you’re still demanding, seeking child.
Find your way to being blessed. Look again at your dad or mom to find the ways they loved you, and fought for you, and sacrificed for you, out of their love and hope for the best for you. See the good they did for you. Let go of the negative things that too often we let define us and them.
Look through the mists of time to see how God blessed you time and again. See how much love the Lord has for you. Be encouraged. Build up your spiritual strength. Accept the abundance of God’s blessings in you so that you have more than enough to share.
When we look at our scripture, we see Jesus do one thing and say one thing. He blessed children, and he taught that we adults should receive the kingdom like a child. Christ is doing one thing and saying something different. Just because he’s blessing children and saying we should be like them in one regard, doesn’t mean we’re supposed to childish.
Our faith toward the kingdom and Christ should be childlike when it comes to the completeness of our trust in the Lord. Children believe, they trust, they love. Children can be our role models to some degree here, Christ teaches. However, our lives are a different matter. They shouldn’t be marked by childishness.
Our scripture makes sure we see Christ surrounded by plenty of children. This isn’t about one child coming to him. Oh, no. Every picture of this scene always has him surrounded by children while his love and grace and peace and joy and blessing pour out of him and spill over and around the girls and boys in his embrace and presence.
His unconditional acceptance and affirmation of the children stand in contrast to those who wanted to keep Jesus on a schedule, locked tight into expectations and duty, draining the unmeasured and unhindered amount of sharing and giving he would offer to all who wanted his blessings.
How he would look at them. How he would glow at their smiles, or be concerned about their fears, written on their faces. How he would lift the little ones and embrace them closely. How he would speak to the bigger ones, instilling confidence and trust in themselves and the God who loves them. How he praised them, laughed and prayed with them, believed in them. Christ blessed.
The twentieth chapter of Genesis is a family saga, a broken family saga. Before Isaac dies, he wants to bless his oldest son, Esau. The problem was there wasn’t an agreement as to which of the sons should be blessed. Esau was the oldest, and was Isaac’s favored. He was more athletic and an outdoorsman. Mom Rebekah favored Jacob, who was more like her, more sensitive, and probably more spiritual.
While Esau is out hunting and cooking his dad’s favorite meal, per Isaac’s request, Rebekah hatches and executes a deceptive plot through which Jacob receives Isaac’s blessing. Jacob immediately leaves home and hearth to get as much distance between him and Esau as possible.
Having done exactly what his father asked him to do, Esau returns to learn of Jacob’s betrayal and his father’s finished act. Such was the power of Isaac’s words, that Esau knew his father could not take back what was already said. Instead, he asked, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.”
There isn’t enough anguish in my voice to properly communicate what was in Esau’s heart when he said, “Bless me too, my father.” To be unblessed was unthinkable for Esau. It was tragic. He was shattered. He was undone, and he feared he would always remain unfinished as a son and child who hoped to grow to be a father and a man.
Esau’s anguish is the cry from every child to their parents, “Bless me too, my mother. Bless me too, my father.”
Perhaps it is still what you seek. Paul Tournier, the late Swiss psychiatrist-theologian, used the story of Esau to describe a certain type of psychological problem which he was constantly dealing with in his therapy. He called it “The Unblessed Child.”
It had nothing to do with the gifts of the child, or the ability of the child, or the opportunities in life the child enjoyed, or even material possessions. It had to do with a child not being blessed, not feeling approved by parents, feeling they didn’t make the grade.
When Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb’s longstanding record for the most career hits, a reporter asked him what he thought about as he stood on base with the whole stadium on its feet cheering wildly. Rose said that he thought that his dad was probably looking down from heaven and was pleased with him. Of all the things Pete Rose could think about at that moment, as a grown man he was still thinking about his father’s approval.
Perhaps we haven’t stopped seeking this, even as adults, even when we’re the parents.
When we’re younger we believe it can’t be that hard to be a parent. We know this because if our parents would do things as we think they should do them, then they would be good parents. Then it’s our turn. Turns out it’s not as we thought it would be many times.
The truth is it’s easy to be a parent when you do it like you’ve been taught, that is, by what you saw your parents do and heard what your parents said. Those are deeply engrained behaviors and reactions, easy to pull up and act out as parent.
It’s tougher to be a parent however if you want to do it differently—and we all want to do it differently, and by differently we mean better! LOL
When we have children, even if we feel quite inadequate to the task, there are things we want to give. It’s built into the parenting instinct. But there is one spiritual thing above all that children really need: to be blessed. If this were easy, then parenting would be easy. But that’s just not true.
A pastor said, “My dad was not articulate, not good with words. I never remember hearing my father say, ‘I love you.’ He was not a secure person. He didn’t feel comfortable about how well he did things, although when he learned to do something he could do it repeatedly. He was not physically affectionate. I never remember him touching me and putting his arms around me. Lots of people have or had parents like that.
I went to see him in Idaho. We sat. All he liked to talk about was coon hunting. He had this dog named Ol’ Rock, and I heard the Ol’ Rock stories again and again. We couldn’t talk about each other or our relationship.
While he was out milking the cows, I got curious about his old suitcase. I opened that suitcase up, and it was filled with every clipping that ever had a
picture of me or my name in it, every church bulletin that had ever been mailed to him, everything in that suitcase had my name on it. I looked down into all that clutter and thought, ‘My dad is very proud of me,’ and I felt blessed.”
Nothing blesses a child more than knowing they’re loved and affirmed. This needs to be felt by the child and communicated by the parent. When they’re little, it comes by touch, by holding, by looking, by talking, by giving attention, even or especially when it’s not exactly how you think it should go.
When they’re bigger, we bless by saying and doing unambiguous acts that reveal our heart of pride, joy, and love.
In today’s world, some parents want to give a child more than they can handle. We think our blessing will be to push them to rise to their full potential. We ask a lot of them; and we continue to push them to a bigger challenge, learn more, be better than other kids. We have good intentions, but our child doesn’t feel or see or understand the intentions.
Instead, we may leave the impression they’ll never please us. They view us as parents who won’t be happy until they’re someone different. Our overactive love and hope become overwhelming and tiring. We spend too much time and too many words on how they need to get better, and not enough words and time on blessing them where they are and who they are.
Don’t assume the obvious is obvious to your children or others. Think again about what role you really want to fulfill, what gifts you should give. Fill yourself up with abundant blessings so you can pour them out on your family, friends, neighbors, strangers.
As scripture says, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Can the church say Amen?