Our 5 year old wanted to know why we had different bed times. He often forgets his responsibilities (things like turning off a light, brushing teeth, being nice, his middle name, etc), but he has an epic, razor sharp, iron clad memory when it comes to the rules for others.
Oh, how he can spot a discrepancy. “What do you mean you don’t have to go to bed also?!!!?! That’s not fair!!!!”. He fully expects the same food portions as adults, the same allowance, the same… everything. In his mind, fair is fair… there are no exceptions.
So after the first 3 hundred or so times of me explaining that he would get a newer bed time when he got older, he turned 6. Well, that is getting ahead of ourselves… he almost turned 6. With the birthday still 3 days off, he was already a 6 year old in his mind.
And out came the logic. “You said I could stay up later when I got older… well, now I’m older!”. And this isn’t something that can be explained to him. Not yet anyway. He isn’t ready. His mind can’t process that even though he is a year older from the first time we had this conversation, he is only a day older from the last time we had it.
He doesn’t understand that we also told him that he could drive when he was older too. But that hasn’t stopped him from asking for a car of his own. A real one. And I’ve yet to find adult words that will pacify a child who feels like he is ready.
And I wonder if this is how we sound to God?
I’m ready for that next step. I’m ready for more gifts. I’m ready for that relationship. I’m ready for that promotion. I’m ready for more favor. I’m ready!
And the God who really knows us and loves us sees this infant asking for a car to drive… but we aren’t pacified with the wisdom of a God who loves us too much to allow us to destroy ourselves with ignorance and ego.
I know that in the last year, I’ve used the phrase, “when you’re older”, about 365 times. And I think I’m being generous, because I know it’s often said more than once per day.
I wonder how many time God uses that phrase, or perhaps a variation of it? Waiting on the Lord is a common theme in the Psalms. Patience is a form of love and a fruit of the Spirit.
I love my son… but I’m not about to let him behind the wheel of the car just because he cries tears of unfairness. I’m not going to let him stay up late when it isn’t good for him and I’m not going to let him eat the portions of a grown man just because his brain hasn’t developed enough to understand.
Shouldn’t God do the same for us? What that means to us is… we need more patience, more understanding, and more reality that we aren’t equal with God. We don’t share His bed time. We aren’t privy to all the knowledge and wisdom of the creator of the universe.
Sometimes His answer to us might simply be, “because I said so”. And we need to faithfully learn that that is an excellent answer. The creator of the world, including our small part in it, deemed us as perfect, right where we are, for now. And if, as parents, we want our children to appreciate that safety and protection that we provide in those moments, we should thrive there as well.
But we also teach our son to ask. It’s OK to ask. We love him and want him to be happy. So, as frustrating as it gets, he is allowed, and even encouraged, to ask for a later bedtime. And someday, he will get it. And it will most certainly be on a day that he asks for it. But not yet. Not today. He isn’t ready. His little body needs sleep.
Part of what he doesn’t understand is that I’m happy to give him things that he enjoys once is ready for them. And if, in my sinful nature, I can manage to be that for him… imagine what God is prepared to do for us… when we are ready.