The setting is a large bright room filled with an assortment of colorful toys. There is a cute play kitchen with dishes and plastic food on the shelf. Big, colorful, soft foam blocks stand stacked in one corner; a little play house stands in the other. There are toy trucks, plastic people and animals, and a small table with chairs that are just the right size. Cabinets are filled with pictures to color, crayons, various supplies, and even some healthy snacks. All meant to create a fun environment for 2 and 3 year old children. A place for little ones to be cared for while their parents worship in the sanctuary.
It’s early on a Sunday morning, and two teachers are ready and waiting for little ones to arrive. One by one they are brought to the door of the classroom. On this particular Sunday, one by one they make it very clear that they don’t want to be there!
It seems like every 2 and 3 year old is having a rough morning. Each one cries pitifully as they cling to their parent’s neck. The parent tries to comfort them, “I always come back for you, don’t I? ” To no avail. They aren’t happy about being left in that class room. The teachers pry them out of their parent’s arms as they continue to wail, and the parent quickly leaves, hoping they will settle down and enjoy their time.
A tired three year old boy, who has just returned from a week at the beach with his family, enters the room. He is greeted warmly: “Welcome back! Did you have fun at the beach?!” “NO!” He shouts, as he whacks a truck off the table.
The teachers spend the next hour and a half attempting to keep cranky little ones happy by distracting them, comforting them, drying tears, wiping noses, and reminding them that their parents will be back soon. They guide the despondent toddlers from playhouse to building blocks, coloring books to kitchen, showing them everything provided for them to play with.
A little boy falls off of a chair and bonks his head on the floor.
Finally it is time! Most of them have calmed down, although some are still in tears, and all of them can’t wait to be out of that room. The door swings open. The children stand at the door, fling their arms over the child safety gate, and look out into the hall. Waiting. Waiting to catch a glimpse of the one who will make everything better!
Waiting for the moment they can get out of that room!
The parents arrive. Tears are dried. Smiles return to little faces. The ones who were playing come running to the door in excitement when they see their parents. Reunited. Happy. Glad to be out of that room.
God brings this scene to mind as I am sharing with a dear friend. We talk about how life seems to grow harder the older you get. We are tired. There are tears. I reflect on the week and share how the promises of God that I have been trying to focus on do not always seem consistent with my experience. In fact, the promises of God seem to fade as the circumstances of life take center stage.
Thinking back to the Sunday School class full of tearful toddlers, God is showing me that I often behave in the same way those little children behave. He lovingly ushers me into a season that He’s hand picked and thoughtfully prepared just for me. The setting is perfect for what God wants to accomplish. It has been furnished and equipped exactly the way He wants it to be, a place where I will be cared for. The perfect environment for Him to do the work He wants to do in my heart.
And I often make it very clear that I don’t want to be there.
Often what is meant to be a time of learning with anticipation turns out to be a time of waiting. There are times we might even feel abandoned. We cry as we beg God to let us leave the room. He tries to comfort us with His Word or through another believer, and He reminds us: “He has never left you…He always brings you out of these places!” At times we become so focused on wanting the waiting to end that we fail to see all the blessings He has provided.
When we focus on wanting to be somewhere else, His provision seems to disappear.
I am jolted into the reality that my heart can easily slip into despair. Kind of like the little one who fell off the chair and bonked his head on the floor! And yet, through the tears, I can see that God has provided all that I need. I can trust that His ways are best.
But there is a part of me that longs to see Him…that longs to be free from the heaviness of life.
And when He finally does appear, let me tell you this: I am going to stand at the door, fling my arms over the gate, and look out into the hall. Waiting. Waiting to get a glimpse of the one who will make everything better! He will be there! Tears will be dried. Smiles will be on our faces. I will run with excitement when I see Him standing there!
But I will also be so very thankful for all that He has accomplished in me while I waited for Him…
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4