I bought Nathan, my five-year-old, a workbook to reinforce his pre-k lessons regarding learning letters. One of the exercises required him to circle all the letter k’s from letters randomly thrown across the page. Once that was complete he was to connect the circles to reveal the picture. He had a role to play and had to put effort into the exercise.
I watched as my son examined the letters with the tenacity of a scientist. He carefully circled each k he could find. I gazed down at the page and could easily see what the picture would be . From an adult’s mind there was no great mystery to be revealed but to a child it was entirely unknown.
Halfway through circling the k’s he looked up at me with his gigantic blue eyes.
“What is it going to be, Mommy?” he asked.
“Keep working baby,” I told him. “You will see”.
He could not decipher the image as it slowly unfolded. I could have just told him, “Oh it’s a kitten with a kite” and ruined the surprise for him. I could have given him the information and all his hard work would have been for nothing. Giving him the answer would not have helped him learn the lesson brought before him. Instead, I waited patiently as he continued seeking.
A few moments later he looked at me and said “Mommy I want to circle some of the n’s for Nathan” as he circled one.
I gently remind him that was not the task at hand. If he circled the n’s he would not see the picture that was intended. I helped him refocus on what he was supposed to do but I did not condemn him. I did not yell at him for becoming distracted. I gently nudged him back to where he was supposed to be. It was entirely up to him to listen or not.
“But I circled one,” he told me with discouragement.
“It’s ok, we can erase it and pretend like it never happened,” I said taking the pencil from him to rid his mistake.
“Thank you,” he replied sweetly as I kissed him on the head.
Once he finished his eyes lit up with utter joy and excitement.
“It is a kitten flying a kite!” he screamed.
At that moment I limited myself to join him on his level and said with equal excitement and surprise, “It is! Well done!”
I was not condescending even though I knew all along what the picture would reveal. I genuinely was thrilled. I applauded the effort and relished his sense of accomplishment.
How often is this the scene from my life? I know what I am supposed to be doing. I am searching for my k’s so that I might connect the dots and see the mystery unfold before me. Some days I can be tenacious and other days I am rather lazy. Some days all of the k’s stand out and I can clearly see the direction to take. Yet other days life is such a jumbled mess I cannot see with clarity. I have times when trying to put order to the chaos is overwhelming and I am sure it will never be more than a complete mess.
Even so, God is standing over me. He is encouraging me to keep on trying. He knows what the picture will be. Not only can He already see it, He created it. He knows that upon completion I will be ecstatic with what has been given to me. He lowers Himself as any good parent would and is just as excited as I am when the final picture is revealed. He may even exclaim, “Well done!”
But I get distracted. I want to wander from what I am meant to do to what I want to do. My focus is diverted to something that does not contribute to the beautiful picture being created for me. I misstep. It is corrected, blotted out by a loving and gracious parent. He tells me, “It is ok. We can pretend as if that never happened. I erased it for you already.”
He gently nudges me to continue. He tells me that though it doesn’t make sense right now, with each next step the picture will become a little clearer.
I persist. The more k’s I circle the fewer letters there are to sort through. It becomes easier and easier for me to find another one and then another. I just do the next right thing.
I rejoice in the accomplishment when the picture is complete. I can finally see how my hard work with God’s guidance and Grace has created for me beauty from chaos. I thank Him for His love and encouragement. He kisses me on the head. With the eagerness of a child I say, “May I have another one?” and He happily hands me a new page.