Running Barefoot in the Snow
In my book Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide, I tell the story of our children running barefoot in the snow. Here’s what happened.
One day I painfully realized that whenever our children asked for anything, the default answer of my wife and me was no. It mattered not how legitimate their request was; we dismissed it.
Though we would sometimes relent and grant permission, the negotiation that occurred between their question and a positive response was time-consuming and unneeded.
I gathered our two children and apologized for my error. I pledged that going forward I would tell them yes every time I could. I would only say no to keep them safe, keep them healthy, and teach them what was right.
I doubt they believed me. A couple days later they tested my promise. “Dad, can we go outside and run around barefoot in the snow?”
Incredulous, they kicked off their shoes and socks. They donned their winter coats, hats, and gloves. With unbridled enthusiasm, they dashed outside.
Seconds later they returned exhilarated, overflowing with glee, and with cold feet. It was a memorable experience for all three of us. Going forward, our children heard me say yes much more often.
How Our Heavenly Father Treats Us
I suspect God is a lot like this. He tells us yes whenever he can. The only time he says no is to keep us safe, keep us healthy, and teach us what is right. He tells us no for our own good. It’s how he shows his love for us. And I try to appreciate that, even if it’s not what I want to hear.
But many people have the opposite perspective. They perceive God as mean, restrictive, and grumpy, saying no to all the things they want to do. They think he limits their life and keeps them from having any fun. They push against his restrictions, even though these are for their own good.
God gives us instructions through Scripture and the Holy Spirit. We’ll do well to obey what he says. If we don’t, we risk pursuing what is unsafe, unhealthy, and wrong. And for that, we’ll suffer with the consequences.
Guardrails for Our Life
I view this as his loving attempt to put guardrails on our life, which keep us from plunging over the cliff to our doom. Guardrails keep us on the road and direct us forward.
Yes, we can do whatever we want, and he won’t love us any less. Regardless of our actions—or inactions—our eternal standing with him remains secure.
But, oh, what heartache we endure when we ignore the loving guardrails he has erected for us on our journey through life and elect to do things our own way.
We don’t need to follow the rules he gives us to get his attention or earn our salvation. We can go through life however we please. But we’re so much better off when we do things his way and not our own.
God intends for his rules to keep us safe, keep us healthy, and teach us what is right—not to limit us or be mean.
God sometimes says no because he loves us. May we embrace his directives, follow them, and thank him for them.
Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.