Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Following Instructions

My grandson Jacob is 8 .. going on 18 .. or 48 .. it depends on the day and the topic.

Jacob's mom is taking a necessary night class so that this can be her next-to-last semester of college. So Jacob and I are hanging out together every Monday and Wednesday night for a couple of hours.

We've agreed to keep electronics to a minimum during this time together. It's even more special because by next semester we'll not have the same opportunity or nearly as much time (more about that at a later, more appropriate date).

At any rate, I've been hitting the craft stores for inexpensive kits that we can both enjoy. Tonight's selection was a couple of string art kits .. the kind of thing wherein one strings colored embroidery thread through a bunch of holes punched into a circle shape on a velvet-covered foam board. The instructions were specific: separate and measure the strands of thread in a particular way, select a specific color, and then string it through the board in a particular pattern.

The pattern is something like "Come out at hole 1, go into hole 14, out at 2, into 15, out at 3, into 16 and so on."

Jacob was excited about starting this, but quickly got frustrated. "I'm so confused" "I'm confused" .. I tried to patiently show him the steps, and how this would work "see, it's just a pattern .. once we start, it will be easier."

"It's not that, it's just, I'm confused .. why do we have to follow instructions?"

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Why do we have to follow instructions? Why can't we just do it any way we want to?"

I explained that this was a kit .. that I picked it out so that it would teach us how to do this craft, and we would, by following instructions, end up with something that would look like the photo, and as that was the goal, we should follow instructions.

Jacob decided he'd give that a try. (And he did quite well)

I've noticed in his eight years of life that Jacob often has a reason for not following instructions. He's a busy, bright, inquisitive child, and never openly defiant, but he really believes way down deep that many of our instructions for him just don't apply .. usually because he's intent on reaching a goal. Even when that goal doesn't mesh with ours. This, of course, results in correction from we responsible adults.

I think a lot of us treat God that way. We disregard his instruction because, after all, we're the ones living in this ol' sinful world. We know deep down that we are heading toward a specific purpose .. but sometimes that purpose is at cross-purposes with God. Time to consider whether that's a good thing or not. Maybe I'm not able to refer to a photo example of a finished product, because God doesn't always work that way. But He always works toward a specific goal. And I've certainly learned that life is much more pleasant when I work toward God's goal instead of mine.

Next time I have to call Jacob down for not following instructions, I'll remind myself to ask God,

"Am I following Your instructions, Lord?"

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