There are times in life when our creative God chooses to teach us and impress us not by the written word or an emotional experience but by painting us a picture as it were. The old saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words and rarely is that more true than when we finally SEE something about God or about ourselves that we may have read about that thousand times.
Sometimes God may pull us aside to a venue of solitude and paints His majesty across a brilliant starry sky. He may set us in the waves of the ocean and use it as a canvas to convey a glimpse of His power that surpasses the tides. And, for parents, He may just have a little perpetual portrait born into our family.
Enter Jack. I might as well introduce you to the youngest of the Sampson brood as I surmise he will be a frequent topic of observation. I had serious thoughts of starting a blog simply called "Stuff Jack Said" but some other dude already had a good run with a "Stuff" someone says blog...
Jack, my wife will attest, is my "mini-me". Space would fail to capture the times that, in utter disbelief, I ask my wife, "What in the world is he doing?!" and she just looks at me with that expression of "really?" I imagine that, in those times, she has one hand on her hip and the other pulling up my mom's cell phone number to get the "second" to her motion that little Jack is simply a rerun of his old man with more creativity and a captive audience. I am very thankful for that fact at times. Watching him bound from couch to chair to chair to couch clad only in his underwear and a Mickey Mouse blanket-turned-cape - undoubtedly a super hero of unparelleled greatness in his own mind (formerly known as "Fooper Jack" when his speech hadn't het come around) - I am reminded that the resounding cares of tomorrow sometimes need to be silenced by the joy of today. I have yet to try his approach (we don't have a Mickey Mouse blanket big enough for me), but many times my little protege has been the catalyst for God to remind me of the blessings that have been overshadowed by "grown-up" things.
On one particular occasion, God used this little third-born paintbrush to paint a vivid picture of how I must act towards Him at times. Jack and I had been having many discussions about obedience. Jack was somewhat accomplished at receiving instruction or correction and then, having lapsed back in to Fooper Jack world, forgetting that the instruction included some obedience on his part. Cleaning up provides a particularly difficult time to keep this relationship in its proper order. As the family was busy picking some things up around the house on a Saturday afternoon, I had given Jack the task of picking up the pile of clothes that he had molted out of before showers that week from the master bathroom floor. I went off to do some more of my picking up and was in a closet in the master bath. Before too long, I heard the familiar skip-steps of my son behind me. As he passed behind me, filled with great pride, he announced to me, "Look daddy! I'm obeying you!!" As I stifled a chuckle and simply replied, "That's great, buddy!" two things struck me. First, Jack apparently found his obedience so note-worthy that it needed fanfare and recognition. And second, he was not convinced that I would note his obedience without his preschool P.R.
In just that brief moment it was almost as if I sensed the same chuckle being stifled by my Heavenly Father. How many times had I done the same thing as my little man? How many times had I been obedient to the instructions of the Almighty and wanted to sound the trumpet of victory? It seems that I, too, find my obedience to Him so note-worthy (and rare?) that I want to make sure it isn't missed.
God seems to always have a way of gently showing us who we are and who He is. As I watched God's little paintbrush dump the fruits of his obedience into the dirty clothes basket, I was assured that the same love that brought a smile to my face was eclipsed by the love that knew the value of a well-placed picture.