My daughter owns a tea set, made of molded plastic. Included is a small, pink plate. One night, after digging under the couch for a few seconds she pulled this pink plate from under the darkness and held it out in triumph. One of our dogs promptly relived her of the plate, and trotted away with it hanging from his mouth.
She was confused, but not upset. She waddled over to the dog, wearing a curious expression.
I took the plate from the dog’s mouth and gave it to its rightful owner…who then put the thing in her own mouth and raced off, with a look back, hoping the dog would take chase.
That was pretty much the highlight of the night, up to that point. My daughter’s desire to do what the dog did and see how it worked out caused a break out of the giggles.
It also scared the crap out of me.
Not immediately, of course. True laughter and joy demands the whole man in the moment of experience, not allowing the moment to be wasted by second guessing. But introspection can come later when the breath is caught.
One time. She saw the behavior just one time before she imitated it. Imitated a dog being a dog. She is a sponge ready to soak up anything.
And so she will imitate me. For better or worse, whatever I do, she will do. Whoever I am, she will be a version of that person, in some way. I am one of the first instruction manuals she will read about what it means to be a human, and the lessons will stick with her forever, tattooed in permanent ink. Some days I wish they were just those cheap little tattoos that you lick to stick, and then they come off after a few baths. I don’t want her to learn those lessons.
Paul: “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.”
I can’t repeat that and be honest. But I don’t get to pull myself out of the game. There are no timeouts. There are no substitutions. I don’t get to rest on the bench. She will look where I am going…and then follow.
A realization like that should make you want to beg for God’s grace and mercy, that you will imitate Christ, not just for your own sake, but for the sake of your family. And so I do. Sometimes. My prayer life isn’t exactly Christ-like, after all. Not yet, anyway.
Solomon: “I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?”
But go on further. Who is able to govern even the littlest of His children? A single one?
It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. (Luke 17:2)(ESV)
As fathers, we each have the weight of a kingdom on our shoulders. We are responsible for those we are given, and that should get our knees to knocking a little bit. Thankfully, we can ask for the same thing Solomon asked, for who is able to govern, even over the least of these? Because as the king goes, so goes the kingdom.
May we rule wisely, like the High King. May we imitate Christ.