Toddlers are messy. They just are. My son Jack is amazing and I love him like crazy, but sometimes he’s completely disgusting. I mean look, he can’t help it. He’s two years old, which means that when he eats yogurt, he wipes it all over his face and all up in his hair. When he uses the bathroom, he does it on himself. When he colors with markers… wait, why in the world am I giving this kid markers?! Lately he’s been sick and that means he’s been congested, which is just pitiful. Little kids can’t really blow their own noses, so when they get congested, the snot just runs down their faces like Niagra Falls, but green. One of the big milestones with babies is teaching them how to blow out when you cover their nose with a tissue. It’s awesome when they finally get the hang of it, but the only problem is that they are so conditioned to do this that any accidental covering of the nose tells their brains to start clearing out the nasal passages with extreme force. Translation: Every time I hug my son I have to change my shirt.
Today I walked by Jack in the living room and he asked me to hold him, while sticking those little arms into the air. I grabbed him and he dove into my shoulder for a super sweet hug. I was basking in the bliss of being a dad when the fleece on my vest touched his little nose and instantaneously I heard the unmistakable sound of mucus flying out of his face! “No!!!” I thought, as I pulled the confused, runny-nosed face off of my ooze-drenched vest. Jack began to cry, “Hold me!” as I extended him out to arms length and ran to the mirror to inspect the damage. There on my shoulder was a substantial spread of glistening goop. I’m not going to lie. I looked at Jack and said, “Really, dude? I pick you up for a hug and you decide it’s time to make a deposit?” I was covered in slime and not happy about it.
Folks, in case you missed it, that was one of the moments I really wish I could have back. I’d like the chance to do that one over again. You see, I’ve been reading the book of Numbers lately and it turns out that one of the things God really can’t stand is complaining. Now, I bet I know what you’re thinking… “Oh great, here comes a big speech about something God hated in the Old Testament. Sounds like a real picnic.” But I’m not trying to give you a big list of God’s no-no’s and then tell you to straighten up. It’s not just a deal where complaining is on the naughty list so we should all just ‘try harder.’ No, there’s a really deep and fundamental reason that God can’t stand complaining, and here it is: When a person complains, they make themselves unable to see and feel all the amazing things God has in store for them.
In other words, God is trying to blow you away with sweetness and kindness and all kinds of blessings you don’t deserve. He’s doing this to provide for you. He’s doing this to protect you. He’s doing this just to show you how much He digs you, but tons and tons of us simply don’t realize He’s at this business at all because we’re so caught up in what we think we should be getting. The one thing that could stand in the way of you realizing how ridiculously good God is to you is complaining about your life. Complaining hijacks your ability to recognize the goodness of God.
Way back in the 21st chapter of the book of Numbers, God’s people started to complain about their wilderness wanderings and saying things like, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Now, I’m not saying that their lives weren’t hard, but think about what they had come from! Those people had been slaves for 400 years, but God came along and cared about them. He saved them by His own strength, not because they were so cool, but because He just loved them. He personally escorted them through the desert, through hostile armies and through the middle of an enormous lake! Every single day for decades He rained down miracle bread from the clear, blue sky, right out of thin air so they wouldn’t starve, but they were calling the miracle bread “miserable food.” They forgot to be thankful and all of a sudden they weren’t even able to see that they were actually complaining about amazing, logic-defying, daily miracles! I think about my own life, and man, I don’t deserve anything I have. God rescued me from myself and everyday I am surrounded by gifts of God and miracles of God. Sure they can sometimes be sticky and snotty, but they’re way more than I deserve and the only way I could miss that is if I complain and make myself miss it.