Tuesday, January 04, 2005


Tera’s going through an odd stage right now. I can’t bring myself to call her behavior rebellion; I think it’s more a case of wiggly mischief. I see her wrestling with herself, and I believe she’d genuinely like to behave, but more often than not, she loses the battle. She just can’t seem to keep herself out of trouble.

I suppose some of it could be chalked up to her emerging sense of humor. You know how it is when kids start realizing they have the power to pull pranks. They hide things you need, just because it’s funny to them. They put tape on the cat’s paws, just because it’s funny to them. They tie knots in your pantyhose, and lick the entire top of a cake, and write their name across your driver’s license with permanent marker, and a whole host of other delightful things—simply because those things are funny to them.

A lot of it is actually funny to me but I can’t tell my daughter that. Instead, we correct her and take away her privileges and send her to her room. Once she’s safely out of earshot, then we laugh.

She had just been sprung from an extended time-out a few weeks back when she got a call inviting her to a slumber party with some girls from church. The tornado-like intake of air she drew gave us an idea of how badly she wanted to go.

“Oh, Mom, Jaimey will be there . . . and Elizabeth. I have to go. I just have to go!”

We team-lectured her. First Dave pointed out a recent error in her judgment, and then I reminded her of one. It went on like this for several minutes before she held up a hand.

“Don’t worry. If you let me go, I promise I’ll be as good as a plum.”

I laughed at that.

“Hey, plums are great,” she explained. “All they do is just sit there.”

I’ve been thinking her words over. It occurs to me that too many of us have bought into that philosophy. We’re all out there trying hard to be good plums. It seems we think the objective in life is to see who can sit the stillest for the longest.

I object to that objective. Who wants a plum for a child? I certainly don’t. I’d miss my daughter’s zest for life if she were to suddenly cower in a corner, terrified of breathing or moving or speaking.

I imagine God feels the same way. Contrary to our theory, He’s probably not too interested in having a relationship with a plum. As proof, look at some of the people He chose to hang around with. The sons of Zebedee wanted to call down fire from heaven and consume a town that had been less-than-welcoming. And don't forget Peter's shining moment in the garden when he hacked off the soldier's ear. God probably has to follow the Peters of this world around constantly, cleaning up their messes and picking up the appendages they lop off. But all the time, He’s interacting with them.

The most profound book I ever read, apart from the Bible, was Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven. Rich Mullins knew the secret. His allegiance, as his biographer said, was to to "something greater than not sinning." He thought that growing into the person God created us to be was the goal of the Christian life--not trying to sin less, but to be God's more. "He would often say that the most holy thing he could do was to be completely human. He was more interested in being genuine and real than being crisp and clean on the outside. He said, 'God created us human, and that means struggling, falling, admitting it, and being healed.' He always focused on the hope on the other side of the sin."

The word for today is this: Don’t try to be a plum. It’s fine--important, even--that you go out and bear some fruit for God. Just don’t try to be one. God wants a relationship with you—-mischief and all.

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