One thing that parenting does is allow you glimmers of the glory of God's heart in the incarnation.
We've been gone for a few days on vacation and it's no surprise to us that today has been tough. For one, we usually need a day for everyone to readjust. But all three boys have been sick. Last night I noticed one of my boys had what looked like chicken pox all over his body and his cough hasn't improved in 3 weeks. Moreover, our 1 year old has had a barking cough. So while it snowed in Houston I took our oldest to the doctor for the bumps all over his skin while Michelle took our youngest to another doctor for his cough.
Since my oldest son has had strep throat he's familiar with the "swabbing" that makes him gag. Today he wanted nothing to do with the test.
The nurse cajoled. I encouraged. The doctor demonstrated. Nothing seemed to work.
I had to get down on my knees, look him in the eyes with a cotton swab in my mouth and take the journey of suffering with him. He was able to muster the courage to swab his own throat as he watched me swab mine.
This afternoon the same son struggled desperately with the taste of the cough syrup. It was less than strawberry flavor. Less than pancake friendly. We cajoled. Encouraged. Threatened. Insisted. I even put sugar in it. Nada.
Desperate for him to finish his teaspoon I asked, "it tastes bad doesn't it?" His head nodded. "It tastes gross?" Affirmative. "I'm so sorry. Come sit on my lap and tell me."
He lamented the strawberry vile of despair--he wept with great sadness. But he finished the medicine. When I put my anger to death and quit trying to sell it as "yummy" and just met him in his fear it made all the difference.
Tonight was the same. After celebrating Christmas with family the boys were wired. Didn't want to go to sleep. At. All. I spanked. Stated the case. Commanded.
But tonight I needed to get down on the carpet. Forget the coughing. Forget that they are contagious with strep and I'll probably get it. Forget the tickle when you swallow. I needed to lay in the guest room in the dark and let them hear me breathing. They needed me to be with them--near them--go through it with them. It made all the difference.
Moments like this remind me of my own need--my own restlessness--for God to come down to me--in my helplessness and need. What I'm so often reluctant and unwilling to do God did with no reserve hesitation (John 10:18).
Note the steps of God's journey to us from Philippians 2:6-7.
Though equal with God in resplendent glory and perfect fellowship of joy, Jesus...
"made himself nothing..." [low]
"...taking the form of a servant..." [lower]
"...being born in the likeness of men." [lower]
"And being found in human form," [lower]
"...he humbled himself" [lower]
"...by becoming obedient to the point of death," [still lower]
"...even death on a cross." [lowest]
In the mercy of God salvation comes through the incarnation of the Son. This incarnation displays the eternal glory of God's heart for lost, desperate, and miserable sinners.
Sinners like you and me. Sinners that need a Savior to come down to us. To meet us where we are. A Savior willing to do the unthinkable and be near us--with us. This incarnation looks us in the eyes and makes us come face to face with courage-inducing love.
Parenting gives us plenty of opportunities to incarnate the love we profess to our children--and in so doing remind us of the One who did this perfectly for every time we don't or even won't.
His love can make me thankful for the tickle I feel in my throat.