A Lesson In Willfulness
I recognized the scene.
I had the same thing happened to me many years ago.
Most mothers have experienced it.
It is exasperating.
A mother and her little boy were walking hand in hand.
They were going along just fine.
Without warning, the little boy went limp.
He just did not want to walk any more.
The mother sweetly encouraged her little boy to get up.
Sweet words and a sweet tone were simply not working.
This little boy was not budging.
He had enough.
From the look on his mother’s face, she had enough as well.
I noticed another woman standing off to the side.
From all appearances, it was the little boy’s grandmother.
I wondered if the scene brought back a memory of her own.
I wondered if her own daughter ever went limp.
I wondered if her own daughter just did not want to walk any more.
I saw the glimmer of recollection in the grandmother’s eyes.
I saw the look of desperation in the eyes of the little boy’s mother.
It’s one thing if something like this happens at home.
When it happens in a public place, embarrassment takes over.
I have been there.
I remember it so well.
I was walking with my oldest daughter.
Much like this mother and son, we were walking hand in hand.
We had run a few errands that morning and this was going to be our last stop.
Walking into the store, my little girl went limp in the middle of the parking lot.
I spoke sweet words to her as well.
I tried to understand that my little girl was tired.
I knew that my little girl probably had enough.
I realized that it was time for a nap.
However, I was very pregnant with our second child.
My patience had reached its tipping point.
Sweet words and a sweet tone did not work.
A car was coming in the parking lot.
With one swift movement, I pulled my little girl up off the ground.
The motion was not graceful.
The motion did not have an ounce of patience in it whatsoever.
I felt a searing pain in my side.
I was not even twenty-six at the time.
The searing pain pierced my left side.
I strained a muscle in my exasperation.
It hurt; my feelings were hurt as well.
After I got my little girl up on her feet, we walked safely to the curb.
At that particular store, there was a small carousel outside.
My little girl liked when I put a quarter in the coin slot so she could have a ride.
She especially liked to ride the blue horse.
There was no ride on the blue horse that day!
There was no reward for her behavior.
I understood her tiredness but collapsing in the middle of a parking lot was unsafe.
Even as little as she was, she knew that she had done something wrong.
I love you, I said when we reached the curb.
What you did was very dangerous.
Mommy would have been very sad if you had gotten hurt.
No ride on the blue horse today, I told her as she pointed in the direction of the carousel.
I remember the embarrassment as other people looked at me like I was a terrible mother.
I received the, can’t you control your toddler, look.
I did not know what was worse: the searing pain on my left side or my embarrassment.
Seeing the mother and her little boy brought it all back to me.
The mother looked up at me as her little boy was still immovable on the floor.
I smiled at her.
There was not a hint of the, can’t you control your toddler, look.
I have been there; I am there.
Tired children are not the only ones who collapse on the floor in frustration.
Frustrated children are not the only ones who struggle with willfulness.
We all have a sin nature which rears its ugly head often.
We are in a constant battle of the wills: our will and God’s will.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Matthew 26:36-46)
A battle of the wills was played out in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus knew what was about to happen.
Jesus asked if there was any way He could forego what was about to take place.
The battle was won in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The battle was won in one sentence.
Yet not as I will, but as you will.
Jesus laid down His own will for the will of His Father.
Had Jesus not laid down His will, had Jesus refused the cross, we would still be in our sins.
It comforts me to know that Jesus struggled with His will.
Jesus knew what He had to do and He did it, for our good and His Father’s glory.
It was not easy.
It was the hardest thing He ever did.
Praise God that Jesus laid down His own will for our sake.
Jesus collapsed there in the Garden.
Jesus felt as if He could not go on any further.
Yet, Jesus got up, and faced His betrayer.
The will of the Father took precedence over Jesus’ own will.
That is what we are teaching our children when they are selfish, willful, and disobedient.
We will continually struggle with willfulness this side of heaven.
We have One who went before us and who was victorious for our sake.
Thank you Lord Jesus, for laying down Your will so we could be saved.