My first question had to be, “was it me?” I didn’t feel like I was asking for anything out of the ordinary. But there he was, a defiant almost seven year old refusing to respond in the way I deemed appropriate. I suppose this isn’t even necessarily just one of the joys for adoptive parents, but for parents in general. You feel like you are making wise decisions and not expecting too much of your children and then all of a sudden, Bam!: blatant defiance. And I suppose the most frustrating part is that most of the time we as parents feel like that which we ask of our kids is for their betterment and their relative social “success” in the world around them. And I know we can examine all the realms of childhood psychology and recognize that this is one of the many stages in the individual’s formation into adulthood…but I can’t help but think that perhaps our frustration in this process reflects that of our Father in Heaven at times.
In the book of Luke Jesus shares with his listeners a famous parable about a wise and a foolish builder. We all know the story well, but I am not sure we necessarily understand the context. Immediately preceding the parable we hear Jesus call out to his audience, ““Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” – Luke 6:46 And actually this is where the difficult part in Jesus’ teaching lies. In 1st century Palestine, where Jesus would have delivered this parable, everyone understood the difficulty of building a house. Foundations had to be dug by hand in the summer months in order to avoid freezing and the winter rains. The ground in the summer in Palestine had even been compared to bronze because of the high clay content. But in his book Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes Kenneth Bailey comments on what a villager in that part of the world would say regarding the foundational task. “I have asked numerous village builders about the depth they must excavate to construct a stone house. The answer is always the same. They tell me they must dig “down to the rock.” If that means one inch or ten feet, the principle remains the same. Building must be done on the rock.”* And Jesus tells us what this foundation is…”hearing and doing what he says”.
Now back to my confrontation with my kids. For years we as humans struggle to form our individual identity. It is almost as if our life’s credo is independence at all costs. And yet, we as Christians declare Jesus as Lord. Our “digging for our foundation” is so contrary to who we have sought to become because it essentially becomes a journey from independence back to dependence. We dig through our hardened bronze-like resolve for personal freedom to yield our very foundation to the will and words of Christ. And I can only think of one way in which this can be achieved; intimacy. If we don’t know the words of Christ, then how do we struggle to obey them. If we aren’t allowing ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit daily then how do we know who to become dependent upon.
The digging is difficult through the sun-baked soil of individualism. But if we are to really embrace Jesus as Lord then we obey and obey and obey until we find ourselves bonded to His foundation…and ultimately becoming more like our Lord.
*Kenneth E. Bailey. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (p. 324). Kindle Edition.