We all know, or have heard stories of, those supremely confident little children who pompously declare that they will not be in need of help, be it in getting dressed, figuring out how to play a new game, or pouring milk on their Froot Loops. We also can picture the results of this independence: shirts inside out, mismatched socks, shoes on the wrong feet, game rules bearing no resemblance to those written on the packaging, milk spilled wide of the bowl, on the table, on the chair, on the floor (to the dog’s delight!). Indulgent parents may take these adventures in stride, laughing at the mishaps, perhaps guiltily remembering their own. Less indulgent parents may launch into a lecture, raise their voice, point their finger, and cause their budding, young Alphas to further distance themselves from sources of instruction (it’s called digging in one’s heels). At some point, however, reality checks are found to be useful, if encountered in a fashion that is acceptable and accessible.
Of course, we are all inclined toward ‘doing it our way,’ seen in adults asking the now-familiar question: ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ (I recently saw a bumper sticker which read: ‘Hold On! I want to try something.’) We are, by nature, victims of Adam’s fall and inheritors of the curse of his disobedience and his expulsion from the Garden. Some of us express this, ‘I’ll do it myself!’ attitude loudly, others of us more quietly, but no less determinedly.
Jesus, once he had gone public with his mission, repeatedly did this weird thing. He regularly checked in with His Father, keeping the lines of communication open and clear, consulting (and listening to) the Father’s wisdom and wishes, even asking about next steps, choosing to follow his Father’s advice, and choosing to wait for his Father’s directives before acting, choosing to do the hardest things, setting aside his own desires, to obey his Father. Can you imagine? We are anxious to be out from under the authority of our parents when we strike out on our own. We know what’s best. We don’t need any help. We can take care of ourselves. We’re adults, after all! We can do what we want, go where we want, do what we want! And so, Jesus’ example of full and loving submission to the Father chafes against our genetic willfulness. His frequent ‘calls home’ to maintain contact with his Father embarrass our refusal to do the same. Jesus’ commitment to ask and obey shames our ‘Nobody tells me what to do!’ It may be that Jesus experienced a refreshing of both peace and joy in the doing. It may be that we, too, are meant to experience the same. PD