When I was about 5 years old, I remember standing in my room one morning as my father was rushing around the house getting ready for work. He walked in to my room, with his undershirt still to be put on and said something to me, which I don’t remember. As he turned around, he flung his t-shirt over his head and walked out the bedroom door and on down the hallway.
“Wow,” I remember thinking. “My father is sooo cool. He just put his shirt on while he was walking! And to top it off… he did it at the same time he was walking through a doorway! That must take some skill. I want to be like that! He’ll really proud of me too!”
So, the next morning, I set out to do just like my father had done before me. I carefully thought the whole thing through, plotted my course, and selected the shirt I would attempt to put on while walking through the doorway of my bedroom.
“Okay, here goes!” I took my first couple of steps toward the doorway.
“So far so good. Okay, now it’s time to start putting the shirt over your head, be careful!”
And so I grab my shirt securely, pulled my arms up in to the air to slide the shirt above my head, and began putting my arms through the shirt. Well, it’s during these split second moments, when you’re putting your arms through the shirt, that the shirt is over your head… covering your eyes…
I had somehow managed to veer off course during these few short seconds, and proceeded to walk right into the frame of the door. I had apparently gained much more momentum while walking than I intended to, because the force that I hit the corner of that door frame knocked me flat on my rump!
Oh, I cried and cried. I remember crying in part because the impact of the doorframe to face did hurt quite a bit, but, I also remember feeling a few other things that day. I remember feeling disappointed because I couldn’t do like I had seen my father do. I remember feeling embarrassed, thinking that if my father had known what I was trying to do, maybe he’d laugh or be disappointed in me perhaps. I remember feeling like a failure, because, obviously, I not only didn’t get my shirt on, I ran right in to the doorframe. I’m pretty sure to this day, I never told my parents what happened that day.
I was telling my girlfriend recently about this story and a thought occurred to me. I thought of how much I wanted to be like my father, and then how we, as Christians, strive to be more like our Father in Heaven.
Jesus tells us, “Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect…” We are made in the image of God; Imago Dei. But, we can’t be just like God. It is said, “There is none righteous…” “But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
So in our Christian walk, as we strive to be more like God, more like Christ, every day, we fail time and time again. We may have a good stride going for a few weeks, days, hours, or even only minutes and then SMACK; we run face first into a doorframe.
Is God disappointed sometimes when we fail at trying to be like him? Perhaps only on occasion. Is He laughing at us? I dare say not. Perhaps sometimes we get disappointed with ourselves or embarrassed in front of God when we fail. Perhaps it’s a small thing, and all you have to do it keep going forward. Perhaps it’s a big blunder of a mistake and you run flat in to a wall and it knocks you on your rump for a time. Things like this can leave us swinging on a pendulum from one extreme to another. We might clear everything and everyone out of our path to get done what we want to get done in name of being more Christ-like… we throw the baby out with the bath water. Or on the other extreme, sometimes we tend to just give up altogether. ‘Why try?’ we say to ourselves.
You know what? I believe God, in His Grace, wants us to get back up, brush ourselves off, and try again. Keep trying. Maybe we have to get up 1,000 times and try again, but as long as we’re intent in our actions, and realize God knows the real motives of our hearts, I believe He is standing there every time with His hand stretched out saying, ‘Try again.’
I’m proud to say, after years of practice, I can now put my shirt on as I’m walking through a bedroom door… Ah, to be like father…
He came to my desk with a quivering lip,
the lesson was done.
“Have you a new sheet for me, dear teacher?
I’ve spoiled this one.”
I took his sheet, all soiled and blotted,
and gave him a new one all unspotted.
And into his tired heart I cried,
“Do better now, my child.”
I came to the Throne with a trembling heart;
The day was done.
“Have you a new day for me, dear Master?
I’ve spoiled this one.”
He took my day, all soiled and blotted
And gave me a new one all unspotted.
And into my tired heart He cried,
“Do better now, My child.”