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Learning Theology from My Four-Year Old Daughter

12 Feb

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Photo by xenia on Morgue File.

My four-year old daughter is going through a stage. If you are a parent you know all about stages! Kids seem to have more stages than a mechanic has wrenches.

In this current stage, we shall call it Dark Bathroom Stage, she has become afraid of going to the bathroom by herself. It is a sudden stage because she has never had that much of an issue before. She does not even want to go when the light is on and she can clearly see her mother or me. She wants one of us to accompany her to the bathroom and stand there and wait until she is done.

Even more, she insists she is afraid of the dark bathroom even when the light is on and bright!

This has been happening off and on for a bit of time now. So, the other night I thought I would give her one of those heroic parental speeches. You know the ones. It is the type you see in the movies, where a parent has a heart to heart with their child, thus inspiring them to rise above their circumstances or limitations and accomplish some grand feat; say, defeating the recent infestation of alien invaders or launching a rocket to the moon out of their own backyard . . . you know, garden variety sort of things like that!

Well, I had one of these iconic, cinematic heart to heart moments with her. I sat her in my lap and assured her there was nothing of which to be afraid. I told her she was a big girl and a brave girl. I told her I was on the ready to rescue her, should anything abnormal crop up in the bathroom. I gave an inspiring litany of her qualities and how she had proven herself brave many times before; for instance, the first time she slept in her own bed all night, or the first time she did not wet herself during the night, or the first time she petted a dog, so on and so forth.

I could tell the magic was working, as her eyes were fixated to mine. I could tell her little brain was working overtime as she was taking all these uplifting nuggets of truth to heart. I knew she was on the verge of throwing her arms around me, giving me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, while thanking me for inspiring her to rise above her fears and conquer the recent nemesis.

I had finished and was waiting for my Kodak moment; a moment I could relive and tell of for infinite. I could use it as a sermon illustration of how a parent should be able to speak with his daughter and spur them to bigger and greater things. I could just see my bust being unveiled in the parenting Hall of Fame. It was, with no question in my mind, one of those moments that would live on in nostalgic glory.

But, as is the case many times, this is not quite how it worked out in the end.

Instead of a big hug and a grateful heart full of inspiration and new-found courage, my daughter looks at me, takes a dramatic pause and says matter-of-factly: But Dad, I am still scared!

Well, that did not go exactly the way I envisioned it!

Sometimes, as parents can also well attest, things do not go according to script. Sometimes, even with our best efforts, it just does not penetrate their young minds. I felt as though I had given an Oscar-winning performance, only to be snubbed by the academy!

Another lesson learned in parenting and another lesson of humility from God.

It did cause me to think. How many times has God told me not to be afraid, for me to look at him and say, but I’m still scared.

The apostle Paul told Timothy, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Tim. 1.7). Paul reminded young Timothy of this is the context of exhorting Timothy not to be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, nor of Paul, the prisoner of the Lord. He goes on to say, but share in the suffering for the gospel by the power of God (2 Tim. 1.8). The context is one of exhortation: exhorting Timothy to stand firm in the faith, even in times of peril.

Paul was not oblivious to the challenges facing people of faith in the climate of that day. He knew first-hand what could happen to a faithful follower of Christ. He had been arrested and beaten and imprisoned. He eventually would give his life as a martyr for his faith in Jesus. Paul joins along side of Timothy, stating, but I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me (2 Tim. 1.12).

The truth of God that Paul espoused was no idle word. He and Timothy were living in times of threats and persecution from the Roman authorities. Yet, in the midst of such threats, Paul encouraged Timothy to remember that God had not given him a spirit of fear. In the face of such threats, Timothy was to hold fast to the truth of the gospel.

How could Paul have such confidence and faith? We find the answer in the context, [Christ] who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim. 1.10). Paul knew that Christ had conquered all things, even death, because of this he could live confidently in faith in the One who gave him life. Even if he were to die, he knew he had hope in Christ.

I dare say I do not face such perils as Paul and Timothy. My fears are of a more pedestrian nature. Even still, I feel myself wavering concerning the promises of God. I find myself unsure of my trust. I myself saying to God, yes God, I know it is true, I know the truth of 2 Timothy 1.7; but, I am still afraid!

Perhaps the problem is I have not fully come to appreciate all that Christ has done for me; my theology is incomplete and causes me to lack the necessary faith required to live life triumphantly in Christ. I am more like Peter often times than Paul. I have the gusto and want-to, but my understanding is lagging, causing me to fall short; or more appropriately, to sink!

But, like a good parent, God takes me in his arms and reassures me for the thousandth time that he is here and with me. And because of that I have nothing to fear, not even semi-darkened bathrooms!

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