It was my will against every will in the room. They would have chaos, I would have order. They would have silliness, I would have sense. There were twenty of them and one of me. It all culminated to this moment, where I sat beside a little girl, staring into her obstinate eyes, compelling her to eat her raspberries.
She would not. I told her they were good for her, that she could not play with her friends or leave the table until she had eaten them. Her eyes became harder and harder. She eats them some days, other days, she does not.
I rose and walked away, my patience spent. I could not make her do what she would not, but her mother had specifically stated that she was to eat at least one piece of fruit at lunch each day. So, my hands were tied. All other punishments had already been brought down on her head without the slightest effect, so I would use my last resort. Time.
By far, the most effective punishment in the classroom is the slow ticking of a clock, sitting in a chair while toys are played with and books are read with the others.
The week had been one of constant struggle for me. I was spent. Disappointment had washed over me time and again. Now, on the tail end of this latest struggle, I felt something rise up.
I stood still. I recognized it. It was the same thing shining hard and bright out of the eyes of a little girl behind me.
A month ago I prayed a prayer that I knew would be a hard one to see answered.
“Lord, defeat my rebellion.”
God had brought my rebellion to the surface, and I had been shocked. I knew I was stubborn, I knew I had struggled with rebellion in the past as a teen, but I had not recognized its newer, more subtle form in my life.
Over the ensuing month, I cannot tell you how many people have jokingly said, “You are such a rebel,” as I flaunted some simple boundary or rule. Their words were meant in fun, but each time smote me as I remembered my prayer.
Now, standing in the middle of the preschool classroom, I realized the same undertow from my teen years still pulled at me today.
Everything is golden when life is going my way, same as if I turned around and snatched the raspberries away and placed a snickers on the napkin in their place. God is good and life is sweet. I’ll even endure hardship, as long as I can see the other end or understand why, but let God take that away, let me sit in a chair as time ticks slowly by and then you will see what truly lies in my heart.
Tell me that God is Sovereign and that I don’t need to understand why and you will see the similitude of a preschooler whose teacher has just said, “because I said so,” in answer to a challenge.
All week I have recognized myself in toddlers. It’s not a great feeling, and at points I have felt utterly forsaken of hope. How could God use someone so totally infused with pride and rebellion? Is this all rising to the surface because I am apart from Him and didn’t even realize it? Does He have a plan for me?
Today, I sat in church, and Pastor opened the message by announcing the title. “Rebellion and Regret.” Then, he proceeded to preach the sermon only to me.
The children of Israel had turned to their false gods again. This time, when God brought judgment and they ran to Him, He refused to deliver them. He told them to run to their gods.
I recognized myself in them. I have a shrine erected in my heart which is dedicated to the worship of myself. This alone is like a sleeping rebellion, but let God touch this image I have of myself, and you will see rebellion in action.
God has used so many things over the weeks to crumble this image, and I have reacted as He knew I would. I have become more and more angry at Him.
But He is a Master Craftsman. Every single moment has been in His hands. I am so thankful He is not leaving me there, angrily and haphazardly re-mortaring my self-image back together. He has made me aware, He caused me to count the cost even before I asked Him to destroy my rebellion. Now, He is directing my eyes back to Him, to Whom worship alone belongs.
So this is what I claim, in the end of my own realization of how far away from perfect I am, that He will be the One that defeats it in me.
Who shall change our vile body, that is may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.Philippians 3:21