Written by Jill Haskins - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
It was the evening before my son’s 10th birthday. A busy week of balancing work, home, kids, and church commitments. I knew his birthday was coming – we had been counting down the days for weeks! However, time seemed to fly, and I was not prepared for his big day.
I looked at my watch and saw that it was 7:30 p.m. and realized his birthday was the next day! How in the world was it already that late? Why hadn’t I even begun to think about a cake prior to then? Not only that, but presents were still not purchased. I thought to myself, “Oh boy….I’m not sure how I ended up here, but here I am. Now I need to figure it out, and figure it out QUICK!”
Off to Kroger we went.
My husband Shane and I usually divide and conquer when we go into a store. Together, the three of us headed toward the baking aisle, and I told my son to pick a cake flavor and some frosting. He chose white cake with chocolate frosting. Easy enough. Problem number one solved. Now, off to find candles.
As we walked down the aisle, he instantly noticed the Hot Wheels display. Of course, he ran over and began digging through the display. He pulled out a few that he liked and began telling us how cool the cars were.
Shane and I, being married for 17 years, instantly looked at each other with understanding. Our son had just solved our second problem — what to give him for a gift! We had forgotten that he had been asking for Hot Wheels!
In that moment, we knew it was time to divide and conquer. Shane took the birthday boy on a hunt for candles, while I picked out a few cars for his gift. We knew (without verbally communicating) that Shane would stall, and I would check out separately and quickly as possible.
Shane tried his hardest to divert his attention. Before we knew what hit us, the “baby of the family” behavior began to rear its ugly head. “Can you buy those cars for me? They are so cool! It IS my BIRTHDAY after all!”
Shane answered with a quick, “Not this time, buddy.”
That’s when the full-on death stare and pre-teen, redhead attitude revealed itself in all its sinful glory.
“BUT IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!!!! I don’t want a dumb birthday cake, I. WANT. THE. CARS!”
Oh boy...there is no going back now. He was crossing his arms, digging in his heels, and his cheeks were turning red with anger.
“Why can’t you just get the cars for me! Look! That one at the top is my FAVORITE!”
Shane and I shared a quick glance, knowing that this is not going to go well. He began slowly dragging the loudly protesting boy away from the Hot Wheels. Once they were down the aisle, I quickly began grabbing the cars. I was careful to grab the one that he said was his FAVORITE, while also choosing an additional nine cars. I stealthily ducked down the end aisle and into the self-checkout all the while watching for Shane, who would be coming down the aisle any minute. As I finished checking out, I heard, “DAD!!!! MY FAVORITE CAR IS GONE!!! THIS IS YOUR FAULT!!! NOW MY DAY IS RUINED!!!”
Uh-oh. Time for me to get out of here. Sorry, Shane!
I made my way to the parking lot knowing Shane would know to meet me at the van. Just as I sat down, I saw Shane smirking, two steps behind a scowling little boy. There was the birthday boy: arms crossed, head down, looking out over the top of his glasses with a furious scowl, stomping his feet across the parking lot.
He approached the van, opened the door, and dramatically proclaimed, “Well….this is the WORST day of my life, THAT’S for SURE! I went back to look at that car and it was GONE!!!”
Shane and I shared a quick glance as we both tried to stifle a laugh at the ridiculousness of the temper tantrum.
Shane began the car and as we drove home in awkward silence, I was surprised to discover that in that moment, the Lord revealed a small part of my sinfulness as well as His character to me.
I heard the Lord say to me, “See how he is acting? He’s throwing a fit because he thinks you are withholding something good from him. However, you aren’t withholding anything from him. In fact, you are giving generously to him, even when he acts like a jerk. You do this because you LOVE him.”
As I pondered the lovingkindness of God, I was reminded of these two verses.
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11 ESV).
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 ESV).
1. Can you think of a time that you were frustrated or angry with God when He didn’t seem to give you what you thought you needed or deserved?
2. What lie were you believing about the character of God in that moment?
3. Begin a journal of good and gracious gifts God has given to you. What do these gifts reveal about His character?
4. Spend a few moments confessing and repenting of a time that you “threw a fit” because you believed God was withholding something good from you.