Lessons from School

Ah, yes. It’s that time of year again. That sound you hear is the automatic doors at Target. Kids go back to school; most moms spend hours at Target. It’s a suburban-American tradition.

We are such a family. Our two boys started a new school in a new city on Monday…and according to our bank account, my wife went straight to Target… Our oldest started pre-K and our youngest is in a little two-year-old class. My wife and I could not be more thrilled about the school. The program has received many certificates, multiple years in a row. The director has a strong commitment to play-learning and academic learning; washing hands and expressing independence. But most importantly, they are a staff of teachers who genuinely care about their children. All this to say, it is completely reasonable to expect both boys to receive a full academic scholarship to UPenn…that’s a given.

Rewind the week back to Sunday night. Backpacks were packed, clothes were ironed, and supplies were laid out. Our family was going through our nightly routine. It was time to hug our oldest and head on to watch Dateline – side note: let’s be honest, when you’re raising toddlers, all you want to do at the end of the day is watch a murder mystery with your spouse. Suddenly, my son said, “What if I don’t want to go to school tomorrow?” “Oh, but son, you’ll love it. The teachers are nice, you’ll make new friends, you’ll have fun learning.” “But what if I not? What if the teachers are mean?”

This exchange continued for a few more minutes. As the back and forth went on, I found myself getting slightly frustrated. Why would my son not trust me? How could he think I – his father – would send him to school with mean teachers? Doesn’t he know I love him with all my heart? Doesn’t he know I have and will give him everything that is best for him? That’s when it hit me. My prayers can sound exactly like this conversation. “But God, what if…? But God, why does it have to be this way? But God…”

In Matthew 7, Jesus uses earnest and authentic language. He teaches us, in part, that our Heavenly Father will never withhold good and perfect gifts. No clause. No exception. Not good gifts for only those we are perfect Christians. Not good gifts for those who didn’t have sex before marriage, got straight A’s in school, or are perfect parents towards their kids. Sin should be taken seriously. But sin should not be allowed to skew our perspective of our Heavenly Father. He does not give you good gifts, shower you with His love, because of who you are. He does it because of who He is. In fact, He uses us earthy parents as examples. In exactly the same way I would never allow either of my sons to go to a crappy school, God will never allow us to go without His benevolent grace. It’s so true and so simple. Perhaps Jesus’s example in modern context: “Hey daddy, may I please have fish sticks?” “Sure son, here is a big ol’ plate of water moccasins!” Yeah, not happening.

If you have a relationship with Jesus you have experienced conversion and have been given a new heart. However, it is also true, this side of heaven we will still wrestle with sin. So even though we are imperfect humans influenced by sin, we still stop at nothing to be loving and generous towards those we love. This is infinitely truer of your Heavenly Father. You should feel the freedom to never have to question God’s love. Never doubt – even if you are unsure, or even if you do not have all the answers – God loves you and cares for you…and He always will.