My husband decided to clean out the attic the other day. After eight years of living here, all three lights finally burned out in the master bedroom ceiling fan. However the glass plate is set on there in such a way that we weren’t sure how to remove it. Proudly, Matt went to the attic where he has faithfully filed away all of our owner’s manuals. Interestingly enough, he found everything but the manual we needed. That’s when he declared it was time we cleaned out the attic. I hate these projects. As he was making piles and bigger messes, I received a text from a friend inviting us over for appetizers and desserts. Now that sounds like fun! But I had to be all adult-like and stick to the matter at hand. Blah!
Matt uncovered a huge basket that was filled with folders, notebooks, and binders I had stashed away. He gave me the assignment to “go through” them and get rid of what I didn’t want anymore. So there I was on a rainy Sunday afternoon, buried in old college journals, recorded prayers, poetry, recorded dreams (interesting stage I went through in college), as well as Bible studies from the last 15 years. It’s funny because I thought this writing gig was fairly new for me, but this massive basket of my penmanship proved otherwise. As I was sifting through it all, I became both horrified by some of my earlier theology and pleased by my passionate heart to learn.
I wasn’t really writing when I was openly rebelling, but began recording my journey about halfway through my sophomore year. When I had finally come to the conclusion that my prodigal college life had gone far enough, I cruised on over to the local Christian bookstore and bought a book to get me going. I was drawn to the section of local published authors and particularly a book about being Spirit-filled and fruit-bearing. Sounded just like what I needed. This woman believed that everyone filled with the Spirit spoke in tongues. This was all new for me, but what the heck, I thought I’d give it a whirl. I will say that book was a positive turning-point for me, a new beginning in opening up my Bible and really studying God’s Word. So was the night that I waited on my knees in prayer with my jaw agate, waiting on the “power of the Spirit.”
Although the power of the Spirit did not show up that night in the form of speaking in tongues, the Holy Spirit has powerfully worked in my life in less ostentatious ways. As I was reading through all my early adulthood experiences and revelations, a picture of myself surfaced. Have you ever seen the famous Tom & Jerry cartoon where the teenage babysitter is paying no attention to the toddler while yapping on the phone? The baby ends up crawling out of the house, into Spike’s doghouse, and then nonchalantly wanders onto a construction site. Tom and Jerry are in horror trying to rescue this baby while it crawls from one moving steel beam to another. The baby is enjoying the stroll, completely oblivious to the fact that any second it could fall to its impending death. In college, I was that baby. While at my aforementioned spiritual turning point I had given up some of the more obvious areas of sin and rebellion, I was oblivious to all the implications of the gospel message. I had a naïve sense of freedom, and was led easily by my feelings. All the while, God was providentially providing the steel planks that would swing under my step at just the right time, guiding and directing my path.
But a funny thing happened. As I grew in my knowledge of Christ, I became less like the crawling baby, and more like Tom & Jerry. Frozen in horror as I looked on at the possible theological and practical dangers I or those I loved were stepping into, I frantically tried to control the situation. If you remember from the cartoon, every time Tom & Jerry tried to save that baby, they ended up hurting themselves (especially Tom). When the baby wandered into Spike’s doghouse, Tom thought he scooped the baby out, only to find he was carrying Spike. That ended in an ugly attack. When the sitter sees Tom returning the baby the first time, she thinks he’s kidnapping and beats him with a broom. As the baby is wandering on the construction site, its diaper unravels and Tom ends up diapering himself by accident. Finally, Tom & Jerry think the baby has fallen into the cement mixer so they jump in after it. Of course the baby was playing with a hammer instead, and bonks him in the head. I was just like that! I’m not saying that I shouldn’t take responsibility as a Christian, but I had somehow lost site of God’s sovereignty in it all. I had moved from a naïve sense of freedom, to an untrusting heart in the providence of God in every situation. I worried about every step I took.
I haven’t grown up too much. As I was reading through my recorded progress in the Christian life, I noticed the more things changed, the more God proved he is the same. I still have some of the same tendencies that blared off the page in ugliness as I was reading. And yet, I’ve moved on from the wandering baby and the controlling Tom (on my better days, anyway). Now I see myself as the three-year-old who clings on their daddy’s leg for dear life. You know, the one with their arms and legs wrapped so tightly around that dad couldn’t shake him off if he tried. Thankfully, like a loving father, God doesn’t want to shake me off, and he can even manage to walk without dragging his leg. I know that Christ’s work covers the naivety of both the wandering baby and the controlling Tom. He upholds the universe by the word of his power. He willingly took every injury to secure my salvation. That is what I cling to—Jesus Christ, my only hope. I just want to go where he directs my steps.