December 21, 2012

Reality Check From a 2-Year-Old

I have something to confess: I’ve been a whiner for the past two weeks. Life seemed much more difficult than I deemed necessary, and I started complaining to God. Privately. Nonstop.

The grumbling reverberated in my head as I made the 10-minute walk from my apartment building in northern Moscow to the nearby gym for a Friday afternoon workout. As I waited at the stoplight to dart across a four-lane street, a mother approached the curb pushing a stroller with one hand and holding her small son’s hand with the other. The boy appeared to be about 2 years old.

After a moment the crosswalk light flashed green, and the countdown began. A pedestrian timer fixed to the stoplight showed eight seconds, seven seconds, six seconds remained to cross the street before traffic resumed.
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I scurried across the street, deep in thought. As I neared the other side, I wondered how the young mother was faring.

At that moment a piercing cry erupted behind me. “Waaaaaaaaaa!”

I turned and saw the mother, still pushing the stroller with one hand, now carrying her son pressed close to her breast with the other.

“Waaaaaaaaaa!” he wailed, not at all happy about losing the freedom of walking by his mother’s side.

The mother, only halfway across the street, plodded forward unflinchingly, her son firmly clutched in the crook of her arm. She didn’t look impatient or upset, just determined to make it to the opposite side with her son.

I muttered to myself: “Foolish child! If he only knew how his mother was protecting him, he would quiet down. If he were only a little older, he would understand the ramifications of what his mother was doing.”

Then I realized that I was that little boy.

Consumed in my own despair, I had been whining to God about my problems for two weeks. But in reality God had probably picked me up and was carrying me across dangerous avenues I knew nothing about. I remembered that Jesus, our good shepherd, not only leads His sheep but also carries the small lambs in His arms. “He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (Isa. 40:11).

I determined to upgrade my attitude right away.

I am convinced that we often have no clue about the reality unfolding around us. Like the little boy, we are too wrapped up in our own narrow view of the world.

Nevertheless, you and I can make a conscious decision to replace our grumbling with joy, heeding Paul’s advice: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).

No matter what our myopia keeps us from seeing, we can be sure of one thing: Jesus is cradling us, protectively, lovingly, in His arms. It’s difficult to fall when we are being carried.

On Sabbath, the day after this incident, I related the encounter to a friend who, like me, was struggling with his attitude. He wryly, and wisely, added an object lesson of his own, saying that those of us who have successfully crossed the street should never turn around and ridicule the travelers struggling behind us. Instead, we should offer encouragement and, even better, extend a hand of support.

My friend is right. I wish I had offered to assist the mother. But it’s difficult to recognize other people’s needs when we’re complaining.

Resolve with me today to stop acting like a 2-year-old.

Andrew McChesney is a journalist in Russia. This article was published December 27, 2012.