(6) What matters is not where I am, but which way I’m facing.
Tristan loves to lie on the bed and play . . . he’s at that stage right now where he wants to be mobile, but is still trying to figure our how. On the bed, though, he can roll over more easily, he can grab hold of things and pull himself forward, or brace his feet against something and push off.
That means, of course, that I have to be more careful about where he’s able to get to than when he’s just sitting on his playmat or on the floor and can’t get anywhere else.
It also means that in one instance he can be sitting on the bed and I have to be worried that he might fall off the edge, but in another instance he can be sitting in exactly the same place, and I don’t have to be concerned because he’s facing (or moving) in a direction that is safer – toward the middle of the bed, for example.
I think I’m coming to find that it’s the same way with God. The entire story of the Old Testament is how impossible it is for us to actually DO everything God laid out that His people were “supposed” to do. That being the case, it seems as though the message of the New Testament – between James’ definition of “true religion,” Paul’s discourses on eating meat offered to idols, and John’s discussion of what it means to truly love God, is that what He really cares about most is not that we’re “doing the right thing” at any given moment, but that we’re gradually drawing closer in relationship with Him . . . i.e., it’s not where we’re sitting, but which way we’re facing, that matters most. Even the Old Testament hints at this in the writings of the prophets, when God tells the people that He’s sick of their sacrifices (you know, all the ones He told them to make . . . ) and just wants them to turn back to relationship with Him . . . to change which way they’re facing, so to speak.
(7) It’s ok if our relationship isn’t perfect right now.
I have a confession to make. I’m somewhat neurotic. (Those who know me are looking at their collective screens right now and thinking, “well duh!”) Part of the way that manifests is wanting to do well at everything I try . . . I don’t want to put in the work of trying and failing ten thousand times before I get it right. I don’t want to practice (badly) until I’ve done something enough to actually be good at it. I want to be good at it now dangit!!
And I see the same thing with Tristan. He wanted to roll over before he was capable of doing so. Now he clearly wants to be crawling . . . wants to be mobile and able to go get toys and other things by himself . . . but he can’t.
And that’s ok. He’s not developmentally ready for that yet, and I have no qualms against dropping everything and helping him with something he needs, until he’s developmentally ready to meet that need himself.
And I think if you read the sweeping story that is Scripture, that’s what you find as well. From the Garden with Adam, to the supper table with Abraham, to the tabernacle with Moses and Aaron, to the temple with Solomon, to the rebuilt Temple with Ezra, to the synagogues with the exiled Jews in Babylon and Persia, to the upper room with the disciples, to Pentecost with the aposltes . . . God’s relationship with us is constantly growing, maturing . . . changing. That’s a daunting concept, to realize that an unchanging God nevertheless changes the way He interacts with us, based on our own growth in our limited ability to comprehend Him.
Just as my feeling for Tristan will never change, but the ways I interact with him will constantly be growing and maturing.