Such a tiny term, that little word why, but the very sound of it is like the screech of nails on the world’s largest chalkboard. Each and every utterance of that one word invokes a desire in me to head for the hills… or at least disappear mentally into my happy place. Why why why must they ask why?

Being the mom of a rather large lot of rather small children, I hear the word

Why?
Why?

“why” incessantly. Why won’t they stop asking me why? I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard the word “why.” I think I could fully fund my children’s college educations. Every. Single. One of them.  My children love the word why.

For the most part, I can put each “why” into one of 2 categories. There’s the quest for more information – the curious why. When my children really want to know why there are chickens living in our garage or why the cat left a 4-footed present at the foot of the bed. Why does the sun come up every morning? Why do I go to school today? Why do we have Christmas?

This kind of why, I love. I love that my children are curious about their world. I love that they want to know more. I love being given opportunites to share with them the things that are important to me. And I love those precious moments of everyday conversation that build our relationship.

Why did God make rainbows? Why did Jesus die? Why don’t you give me a hug right now?

Those kinds of why’s make my heart happy.

And there’s that other “why?.”  It’s the why that gets under my skin, every time. It’s full of attitude. Selfishness. Stubbornness. It’s not a question, it’s a complaint. Not spoken with curiousity, but the kind of defiance that toddlers are known for.

“Honey, please put your shoes on.” “Why.”

It’s a statement of rebelliousness.

“Sweetie, it’s time to pick your toys up.” “Why!”

A rejection of authority.

“It’s time to go now.” “WHY.”

It’s a demand for independance. Just like Frank Sinatra once crooned, “I’ll do it my way.” This kind of a why is more like “Oh heck no.” “I don’t” “I won’t” “Huh-uh” “Nada” “Never” “Not” “Nope” and “No way.” And I hear this why the most.

How often do we say that to God?

When God says, sell your posessions and give to the poor and we say, “Why. I like my stuff.”
When God says care for the orphan and the widow, and we say “But I’m too busy…”

When God says follow me and we say “I can’t right now. I won’t”

When God said, this is the path I have for you, and I say “But, really God, why.”

Why must I do this? Why must my life be this way? Why?

When God says love me above all else, and we say, “Why God?” We are showing Him our rebellion, not love. Our selfishness, not giving. When we endure hardship, and we ask God, “WHY.” When we don’t get our own way, and we ask God “why?” When we don’t have all of the money or the stuff that we want and we say “Why why why?”  And we ask when we’re not really curious, we’re just complaining because we don’t have our way.

But God is far more patient than I am. He handles my “why” far better than I can handle my children’s. I have a lot to learn about patience, but God the Father never runs out of patience for His children.

I try to hide my rolling eyes and my grimaced face when my kids proclaim their displeasured: “WHY.” I stuff down my own bad attitude for the 437th time in a day that “why” crosses the threshhold to my ears. “Because I’m your Mom and I make rules to keep you safe,” I respond with all the kindness and gentleness and sweetness I can muster (which, all too often, isn’t really all that much). God’s patience never runs out. God’s love for us is never quelled by our rebellious, stubborn, independent selves. God can handle our ungrateful “why” because of who He is.

“Because I AM.”

I hate to admit it. It bothers me terribly when my kids say it, because, sadly, I say it, too.

“Why?”

 

 

 

Advent – that glorious time of year where everything sparkles and shines and smells of cinnamon and spruce. That time of year when we hustle around, surviving on coffee and spurts of shopping-frenzied adrenaline and perhaps a sticky bun or two, and squooshing and squeezing in one more thing before we have to be at that next one. When, now more than ever, we are beckoned, courted, and teased by all manner of delightful, stuck-in-your-head-forever Target ads, provoking us to empty our wallets for all those lovely, sparkling trinkets that our beloved little people simply cannot be without.  Advent – the time of waiting, seems to be the time when we are never still, but instead, constantly juggling the added responsibilities of pageant practice, and children’s choirs, and school programs, and Christmas parties and all of the fun and all of the mundane that takes up our every spare second. Advent – the time of year when we stuff our homes to the brim with hidden gifts, waiting for the opportune moment to be given.

This season of Advent is also the time when the church lays aside it’s typical worship music for something of a more traditional fare, carols steeped in nostalgia and restyled for the new styles. Where typical Advent sermons, I find, are heavily laden with sincere, heart-warming, stories, practical advice, and Scriptural helps to keep us keeping Christ first  and in the forefront at Christmas. And we need this!  More than ever our hearts long to be tugged by anecdotes, like the often recounted account of the widow who surprisingly received a puppy for Christmas from her late husband, giving her a reason to celebrate the season when she thought she had none. The time of year when we are taught and groomed and reasoned into putting our focus on the Christ-child, the baby born in a manger. Emmanuel, God with us. And it never, ever gets old, no matter how old we get, because the baby in the manger was born for each and every one of us. And we who believe will never forget the joy of the earth in that moment. We can’t forget, we shouldn’t forget the moment that Peace came to earth to be our Emmanuel. But as I reflect on the Christmas story, I think maybe we did forget something. Or at least, maybe I did.

At Christmas, we seem to forget that baby isn’t in the manger anymore. That tiny baby, God with Us, that gave up the glories of heaven to be with us in a whole new way isn’t just a baby all wrapped up and tucked in the hay. That God who became flesh isn’t helpless, or frail, or even new. The baby that we celebrate grew into the God-Man that walked among us. That healed us. That forgave our sins. That baby was crucified and rose again – not as a baby, but as our Savior and King. And He did it all to restore a broken world – to restore a broken me and a broken you – to redeem every mess we ever made, to reshape our bottomed out hearts and breathe new life into our tired, weary existence. He became a baby because He loved us. But He didn’t stay in the manger.

This Advent, don’t forget God with Us. The baby doesn’t lay still as a tiny wooden idol beneath our sparkling trees, or tucked neatly into manger scenes dressing up our altar tables. He’s not just the God with us, He is the God who is STILL with us. He is the God who is with us when we are hustling and bustling, and shopping and serving, and cooking and cleaning. He is our Emmanuel our God with us when we feel Grinchy or giving. He is the God who is always with us when we are singing Christmas carols and sweeping up Christmas cookie crumbs and when we are weeping for Christmases and souls gone on.

Don’t just put the baby first this Christmas. Put the baby who became our Savior first this Christmas. Jesus Christ, our Messiah, our Healer, our Hope. Our Friend, our King, and our Savior is with us. And we need Him.