27 November 2005

Jonah's Faith: "I Won't Fall Down"

God gave me kids to teach me how to know Him. I would love to think that my three children, Ellie (8), Owen(5) and Jonah (2), will be blessings to people around them when they grow up, but I think it's probably too late. I have learned so much from them. They are three young witnesses who have taught me much.

A week ago we had our traditional Thanksgiving get-together with the Highland Church. We gathered together in the Family Life Center for a good meal of mashed potatoes, turkette stuffing, green beans and tasty rolls. Ellie and other kids from the school got up front and sang some songs. We were filled with fellowship and the spirit of the season.

The kids and I (Jenny was at work) sat across from my friend, Monique, and her family. Monique and I have been friends since high school, and she watches my boys for me during the week. Her son, Nicholas, is Owen's best friend.

Twenty years ago, when I was a freshman at Highland Academy, I had a big-time crush on Monique. She was (is) beautiful, friendly, and she was one of the girls who could talk with me without getting a sour look on her face (a big turn-on to 15-year-old boys). I asked her that year to be my date to the Thanksgiving Dinner.

She said, "No."

I can't recall the name of the guy she chose instead of me. I do remember that I sat across from them and cracked stupid jokes. I remember the way she rolled her eyes and shot dirty looks across the table at me--I remember that I didn't understand why at the time.

Anyway, in honor of that embarassing social encounter, I sat across from her and her "date" (her husband, Daniel) again last Sunday. This time, however, I was on my best behavior.

While Ellie was up singing Thanksgiving Hymns, I had Jonah on my lap. Recently he has been obsessed with falling down. His "Opa" (my dad) had been reading him stories about Jack & Jill and Humpty Dumpty. Everytime someone falls down--it happens a lot in Mother Goose Tales and in Real Life, I might add--Jonah gets a big smile on his face.

When Opa comes over, he asks Jonah, "What did Humpty Dumpty do?"

Jonah grins, "He fell down."

"What about Jack and Jill?"

"All fall down," Jonah replies sagely. (It occurs to me that he hasn't even learned "Ring Around the Rosie" yet.)

Last Sunday, then, I was watching the Thanksgiving Program, and Jonah was in my lap. He stood up on my knees, fixed me in his eyes with a big grin, and said, "I won't fall down."

"No, Jonah, Daddy won't let you fall down," I said.

Suddenly, Jonah arched his back and began to lean backwards. I held tightly to his waist as his balance veered away from me.

"I won't fall down," he repeated, his face upside down and looking away from me.

"Daddy's got you," I assured him.

Finally, he had leaned so far back that I flipped his feet over his head in a sort of back flip and placed him safely on the ground.

What faith, I thought. Imagine if I looked my Heavenly Father in the eyes every morning and prayed, "I won't fall down." What if I could repeat that, even when I leaned away from Him, testing his faithfulness to the utter limits as I placed my spirit in harm's way?

Is this the way I tempt God to let me fall? Is this the way He responds to me--as a loving, bemused, Father?

Jonah hadn't been on solid ground for more than 10 seconds before he climbed back into my lap and stood upon my knees. He grinned again, even brighter than before. "I won't fall down," he said in his sing-song voice.

"Daddy won't let you fall down," I, too, repeated.

He raised his arms, arched his back, and held me to my word once again.

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