It’s great to be three-years-old. The world around you is huge and there are new things to learn every day! Your developing brain is taking in large amounts of information at a rapid rate and you can’t wait to be “big” and know it all.
It’s also hard to be three. Because sometimes all that information can be a little overwhelming and hard to sort through. And sometimes you make mistakes that cause your parents to laugh out loud.
I’m not a child development expert, but I’m guessing it goes something like this:
Anna sees an object she has previously seen and heard the name of. Her brain attempts to retrieve the object’s name, but she can’t quite remember it. She does, however, recall something about the word – maybe the sound of the first letter or a syllable – so she takes, from the pool of her known vocabulary, a name that sounds similar and uses that instead.
The result is incredibly large amounts of cuteness. Because she’s three. And the range of her vocabulary is understandably limited. If her mom, or even her 9-year-old sister had this problem, though, the word “cute” would not apply!
When we first receive Christ into our lives and begin growing in our relationship with Him, it’s understandable that we might make similar mistakes. That when we think about who God is or what He is like, we would only be able to retrieve ideas from our limited pool of human experience. We take what we have known and seen to be true in this world and, many times, mistakenly assume He must work the same way. There just isn’t much else to choose from!
But as we grow in our faith and are exposed to more and more of the truth about Him, our vocabulary expands and now His Word should become the pool from which we retrieve our thoughts about Him.
I’m amazed at how often, over twenty years into this, I still limit my understanding of the ways of God to the way I see things work here.
How often I think that because I name a circumstance “impossible”, He must have to work around it Himself.
How often I think that because I see a situation as a “disaster”, He didn’t see it coming either.
How often I think that because I label a person as “difficult”, He must struggle to love them as well.
How often I think that because I call a decision “foolish”, He’s worried about the outcome, too.
The problem is that I’m retrieving those “names” from the wrong place. I’m assuming my worldly experiences apply to a God who is not of this world!
But if I’m filling my mind on a regular basis with His words from the Bible, the Holy Spirit can help me retrieve those words instead.
I remember that He names the impossible an opportunity to show His glory (John 9:3). That He sees the disaster as an opening for Him to pour out His mercy (Luke 8:47-48). That He labels the difficult as living examples of the power of His grace (Luke 19:9). That He calls the foolish a way of surprising us with His ultimate wisdom (John 13:5).
Like my three-year-old Anna, I want to know it all – I want to grow up in my understanding of who God is and how He works! But that’s not going to happen if all I ever have to pull from is my limited human vocabulary of experiences. I need His words of truth to be so familiar that they become the ones my mind retrieves, without hesitation, every time.