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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fickle hearts

I was pondering the part in the book of John where Jesus questions Peter three times whether he loves Him or not and then tells him to feed his sheep. I couldn't help but notice Jesus' questioning of Peter's fickle heart. The same heart that so boldly exclaimed he would never betray Jesus and then barely 24 hours later did it blatantly. We think we know what we want, what we feel and then we change so quickly.

Am I really so different? One day I want to move, the next I can't bear the thought of leaving. One day I love being at home with the kids, the next I am ready to run out the door and never return. Moment by moment my heart transfers from adoration of Christ to clinging to food, security, money, purpose or adventure to make me feel alive. I can barely keep up with myself.

And of course our kids are the same way. Like us, they don't know what they want, they chase after things that don't satisfy, they become overwhelmed by tears when those things disappoint, their hearts bounce back and forth through an obstacle of things. For example, when hiking last weekend my son changed his mind every 100 feet as to whether he wanted up in the backpack or wanted to walk on his own. Eventually he succombed to a complete and total fit where Chris and I were utterly beffuddled as to what he wanted. So what did we do? We decided for him. And sure he didn't like it but eventually he calmed down and accepted his lot. We know better than he does what is best for him. He doesn't yet know how to deal with his emotions. He doesn't yet know what is best for him. It is up to us to teach him.

Likewise, we shouldn't take any of this personally, especially those moments when your child seems to disdain you but love your spouse. Or worse yet, hate you both but love the grandparents. Their hearts are swayed by the moment, it is not personal, it is not lasting. In fact, sometimes it doesn't even last a minute. We need to teach them steadfast love by not becoming frustrated when they ask for a yogurt and then refuse to eat it; by not taking it personally when they say they want Dad to come home or won't give you a hug. Ultimately the battle is not with you, it is with their own brokenness and the sin that entangles.

Jesus understood Peter's fickle heart. He let him make bold declarations and then fall on his face. He accepted him back unconditionally. He met Peter where he was at, but still gave him clear and complete instructions. And with those instructions he entrusted Peter with one of the biggest commissions of all time.

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