April 15, 2009

Just Like Grandpa


Benjamin stood in the middle of the living room, as strait and tall as his 5-year-old self could be. He held a large, wet comb that was still dripping water. His usually tousled curls had been wet down and slicked back from his forehead in a manner that was a lot like the way his grandpa wore his hair. There were water drops on his cheeks and the end of his nose, and he wore a proud smile that said, “I did it myself.”
It’s not unusual for a little boy to want to be like his dad. But because his dad died in a plane crash when Benjamin was only 1 year old, he has no memory of what his dad was like. So instead, the person he wants to be like is someone he knows and respects—his grandpa.
Grandpa takes Ben for walks and lets him hold the leash of his dog, Daisy. He reads stories to Ben, gives him hugs, and wrestles with him on the floor. He admires the things Benjamin builds with LEGOs. He takes him to the playground. He plays “chase” with him through the woods and lets him pick flowers for his mom. Grandpa has never hurt him or said bad things to him, so Ben feels safe with his grandpa.
2009 1511 page31Even though Ben and Grandpa have a good time together, Grandpa is not all fun and games. He expects to be obeyed. But he is generous with his love, and Benjamin knows it.
Ben watches everything his grandpa does, and notices even how Grandpa combs his hair. It’s a heavy load to carry—the knowledge that there is a grandson who wants to be just like you and who thinks combing his hair the same way you do will somehow further that goal. Because he notices exterior traits such as hairstyle, Ben will also pick up on inside qualities such as honesty, faithfulness, diligence, and kindness. The way Grandpa handles anger or speaks to others will make a larger impression than any instructions he might give. Grandpa has to remember that a little boy is listening to and watching everything he says and does.
If I put forth the same kind of effort and time watching Jesus that Ben spends watching Grandpa, I would be much more successful in becoming like Him. If I try to copy only the exterior, I will fail in my attempt to be like Jesus. Being like Him is more than how I dress, what I eat, or what I say. And even the most impeccable behavior won’t do it. In the final analysis, only what is on the inside counts. What I really need is a whole new me—and that includes the mind of Jesus.
Philippians 2:5 tells us to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (NKJV).* This is something that can’t be copied or even fully understood. It comes from the hand of the Creator Himself, and my experience with Him is what makes me feel safe and long for what He has offered to give me.
Benjamin can’t learn who his grandpa is or what he stands for except by spending time with him and learning by experience. By being with him, Ben feels the love of his grandpa, which engulfs him. And until I recognize the love that is behind Jesus’ offer in Philippians, I will not even want the mind that Jesus gives. I learn about His love by spending time with the Source.
But unlike Benjamin and his hair-combing performance, I will never be able to say I became more like Jesus because “I did it myself.” The difference is—it is God who puts the mind of Christ in me. 
*Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright ” 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Barbara Roberts writes from Brier, Washington, where she and her husband enjoy god’s amazing creation.