Everyone has their own idiosyncrasies and habits, even children. Sometimes they can be very frustrating. Eight or nine years ago, I noticed a particularly annoying one in my then three-year old son. Every time we walked out of the house to go anywhere he would go straight to the side of our home and pour water into a mud hole he had made. He then stirred it around before he would get into the car. He repeated this ritual when we returned. You could not get him to alter his routine no matter how late we were or even where we were headed. It was absolutely infuriating when he did not listen to me. I tried everything a parent could…including covering up the hole, only to have him make it again.
My wife finally convinced me that I was simply missing something. She encouraged me to move beyond his right or wrong behavior and understand why this was important to him. We decided to walk through his routine ourselves. We poured water into his mud-hole, and stirred it. Dozens of earthworms came to the surface. He had been catching earthworms from other parts of the yard and putting them in his hole as pets. All the behaviors that infuriated me was in his young mind necessary to care for his pets.
In the eighth chapter of John, a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery was brought before Jesus as a means of testing him. According to the law the woman should have been stoned to death. Jesus simply said, “Let the sinless among you, go first: throw the stone.” He then bent and started writing in the sand with his finger. Slowly all those around dropped their stones and walked away. I remember hearing my father preach from this passage. He always wondered if Jesus began listing the sins and bad habits of all those angry men as he bent to write in the sand. In any case, it is a reminder that none of us are perfect, and people generally do things for a reason. We are much too quick to jump to judgment. Each time we do…temporal (and eternal) relationships are placed in jeopardy. It also blinds us to our own short comings. That‘s what Jesus was implying when he spoke about not to worrying about the speck in your neighbor‘s eye while there is a log in yours (Matthew 7:1-5).
My son had been asking for a pet. I kept telling him that he was not old enough to responsible take care of a pet. He was simply trying to show me that he was responsible… sometimes even more than I was. A little understanding and less judgment can help us all not make mountains out of mud holes.