The sixteen month old I know as "beautiful Ella" is walking. Taking about five and six steps at a time before she plops back down on the floor.
One of her favorite activities, right now, is to crawl up on a white, plastic rocking chair in the living room of her parents' home. The chair looks like one of those office waiting room chairs from the 1960's or 70's. The thing is not all that stable.
But Ella likes to crawl up on it and rock -while standing up!
Mom and Dad have warned her about this. Encouraged her to sit down. "On the bottom," they say. "Sit on your bottom." But the view is more exciting, and the rocking is more pronounced, when she pulls herself up on the plastic chair with the low sides, and stands.
Life is an exercise in risk taking, isn't it? And one of the most frustrating things for a parent is not being able to protect our children from themselves. You know the risk...you can see the accident waiting to happen...but the toddler sees only the excitement of what they want to do.
Sometimes we are able to warn the people we love and know away from a decision or course of action that is going to bring all kinds of pain their way. They listen to the warnings. They are "teachable." But so often we refuse to listen...to be coached...and we say, "I'll do it myself. I'll figure this out myself. I'll try this on for size myself." What usually results is pain. Bumps and bruises. Maybe a trip to the ER. Certainly tears. This is "learning the hard way" and it seems to be the learning option of choice for many of us.
Sometimes, unfortunately, experience is the best teacher. But the lessons can be harsh.
Jesus warned a rich, young man that if he held onto his wealth....if he continued to value money over God and relationships...he was going to be miserable. But the man wouldn't believe Jesus. He chose to hang onto money as the defining reality of his life.
Being a parent can be tough, you know? We love...we want to protect...but when you give life you release a new generation to learn lessons. You turn them loose to exercise their freedom. Sometimes they choose well... and sometimes they fall, get hurt, and end up running to you.
God knows something about having kids who insist on doing things their way...learning the hard way. I wonder if he has ever revisited his decision, in those first moments of creation, to give his sons and daughters the gift of freewill.
Sit down on the rocking chair, Ella. Sit down, please. I don't want to see you hurt. Grandpa doesn't want to see you hurt. Please.