Twice in the span of just a few weeks, I have had to retrieve one of my children from an overnight stay at someone’s house. Strangely enough, it has been my two daughters – the two oldest of my four children – who have needed retrieving, not because of any medical emergency or behavioral issues, but simply because they “missed Mommy and Daddy.”
If you are a parent and have ever been faced with this situation before, you know the thought process which eventually plays out here. First, you feel a tinge of embarrassment, because your child is being slightly rude to their host by requesting you come retrieve him or her from their house. Second, you enter crisis management mode and attempt to pull out every negotiating trick you know to convince your child to stay there. Third, you get a little angry that none of your best material seems to be working on the child. And, finally, fourth, your heart melts into a puddle of goo at the sound of your child’s quivering voice on the other end of the telephone and you totally cave and go get them.
That’s usually what happens anyway … except I have a tendency to skip straight to the fourth step, especially when it comes to one of my girls. I remember what it’s like to be young and scared in a place that’s not your home. In those situations, logical thinking flies out the window. It doesn’t matter that you’re going to be asleep half the time you’re there anyway; you’re somewhere you don’t want to be, and your only option of escape is Mom or Dad. In that moment, you just want someone to come and rescue you.
I also tend to lose my resolve in these kinds of instances because there are many times I can’t understand why God – my Father – won’t just come and rescue me. If He loves me as a son, why doesn’t He hear my quivering voice on the other end of the line and take me to another place? I would run through a wall to pick up one of my kids if they needed me to … or, at least, if I thought they needed me to.
There have definitely been times when my children have wanted to be removed from what was, to them, uncomfortable situations that I knew would ultimately benefit them if they could only endure them. I’ve denied them easy exits from any number of activities, not because I enjoy making them anxious or uneasy, but because I knew the end result would be for their own good. I don’t always feel good when I do this, though. In fact, I often go to great lengths to spare my children any discomfort in this life, be it for their benefit or not. Sometimes I just can’t help myself.
God, though, is stronger than I am, and when I feel as if a situation He has designed for me is totally intolerable, He is mighty enough and caring enough and loving enough to leave me where I am until the good work can be completed. He may seem cruel, unjust, and uncaring, but He sees a picture I don’t.
It’s a really, really, really good thing I’m not God, or else no one would ever make it through any of the life-changing trials He has designed for them. I’d pick them up after the first phone call … every time.