I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:4-5).
Over the weekend I was sitting on our living room couch with our ten-month-old (and by sitting I mean making sure he didn’t dive bomb over the edge to sure and sudden death).
In fact, most days I feel more like one of those giant air mattresses at the bottom of an action scene in a movie, but instead of stuntmen, I’m catching feral barn cats. Just add “buffer between my boys and another trip to the emergency room” to my list of hats.
I would get comfortable, and like a rogue bowling ball spinning violently against the bumpers, he would make a head-first break for the perimeter I had set with my legs. Just before a bumped noggin would ruin our fun, I pulled him in and snuggled him close.
The sweetest noise I hope will visit me in my daydreams when I’m an old lady.
As I listened to his little breaths nuzzled in my neck, I smiled and thought, “Parenthood is the coolest picture of Jesus.”
Apart from me, Jack Cooper can do nothing. Without my hand, he can’t get on or off of this couch (safely). He could pull with all his might and still be flat-footed on the floor. Or on the contrary, he could be as careful as he knew how to be getting down and still nosedive into the hardwood.
How many times have I tried to dive bomb through the caution tape and over the edge into something the Lord had not intended for me? How many times have I flirted with the perimeter set for me? How many times have I attempted to barrel head-first through a door that was undeniably deadbolted closed? How many times have I been full steam ahead when the sign clearly warned, “THE BRIDGE IS OUT! TURN BACK!”
I can’t do anything outside of Jesus. I can push and pull and squeeze and jump and reach with all my might. Maybe on occasion, I can put on the façade of success. For a fleeting moment, I can mask the exhaustion of grasping at godless straws, but ultimately, I’m going to fall off the couch.
It makes me weepy to think of all the ways parenthood reflects the heart of Jesus. Just like sweet little Jack Cooper pushing his limits and being pulled back by his mama, so am I being pulled in close by my heavenly daddy.
The misconception is this: God wants to keep us boxed in and limited with boundaries and margins when in reality, according to Scripture, where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Where the Spirit leads there is safety.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).
I love to observe the way my boys do things and watch their wheels turn. When Jack Cooper would get right up to the edge of the couch cushion, he would look down and around seeming to plot his escape route. The first few times ended in a not-so-graceful descent and hurt feelings. But now he scoots cautiously and looks to me as if to say, “Hey mama, a little help?” Because he knows where his help comes from. He knows that where mama is there is protection. She will withhold no good thing from him.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).
So today, before you try and get off the couch on your own, remember to wait on the Lord. Remember the source of your help and freedom. Remember and give thanks that His boundaries, though at times may feel like rejection, are in place for your protection.
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore (Psalm 121:1).