Right now, there are several key lessons my husband and I are trying to teach our six-month-old daughter: It’s not generally appreciated if you shriek at the top of your lungs in a quiet library; before we eat, we say thank you to Jesus for the food; and it isn’t wise to launch yourself recklessly off a change table.
Before I became a mother, I expected I’d also receive some lessons from my baby in return, but I imagined these to be along the lines of patience, kindness, self-control. . . . I wasn’t prepared to be deeply challenged spiritually by a baby with a spoon.
It happened one afternoon as I was feeding our daughter some lunch. Here’s what you need to know about what our mealtimes were like: Half of the time, Naomi was content to let me spoon puree into her open and willing mouth. The other half of the meal was spent trying my best to continue shovelling food into her, while also trying to avoid her pudgy little hands that were also trying their best to grab at the utensil. “Here comes the aeroplane!” did not work in our household, because the proverbial aeroplane was knocked out of the sky before it even had a chance to completely take off.
This frustrating mealtime dance continued until my mother, in her infinite wisdom, surveyed the scene one afternoon, silently retreated to the kitchen and came back with another spoon, which she placed into Naomi’s hand. The spoon I held was forgotten. All attention was on the object in her hand, and we finished our meal in peace.
This continued for several weeks, until, one afternoon, I decided it was time for Naomi to graduate to the next “food level”. When it was time for her yoghurt, I grabbed the pouch from the fridge, brought it over to her high-chair, put the spout in her mouth and squeezed the bottom of the bag. I repeated this several times until Naomi reached out a hand to hold one side of the pouch.
Satisfied she’d understood, I went to take the spoon out of her other hand so she could hold the yoghurt with both hands; and was met with instant shrieks. The yoghurt was forgotten. All eyes were on her beloved spoon, which I had dared to take away. In an attempt to stop the wailing, I gave back the spoon. The tears ceased and her attention once again turned to her pouch of yoghurt . . . which she still couldn’t pick up, due to the spoon in one hand.
For a minute or two, this was amusing. But as she got more and more frustrated, so did I. Why doesn’t she realise it would be so much easier if she just let go of that useless spoon? I thought. And then it hit me: I do the same thing as my daughter.
Time to let go
Sure, it’s not with a spoon and a pouch of yoghurt. But there are so many things in my life I refuse to let go of, even though God is saying, “But Maritza, look! I have something even better for you!” As a Christian, I claim I’m totally devoted to Jesus, and yet when He calls me to make sacrifices, I hold things, experiences and people tightly in my hands and bargain: “Really, Lord? Do I have to give all of it up?”
The Bible recalls that when Jesus invited fishermen Peter, James, John and Andrew to become His disciples, they pulled up their boats onto dry land and left everything—everything—to follow Him (Luke 5:11). And, in retelling how Jesus also called Matthew, a tax collector, to join His mission, prominent Christian writer Ellen White says Matthew “left all, rose up and followed Him. There was no hesitation, no questioning, no thought of the lucrative business to be exchanged for poverty and hardship. . . . It was enough for him that he was to be with Jesus, that he might listen to His words, and unite with Him in His work.”
Just like the disciples and dozens of other men and women whose stories are preserved in the Scriptures, Jesus calls us to leave everything and to follow Him, regardless of whether we’ve called ourselves Christians for many years or whether it’s the very first time we’ve heard His voice. Although His Word, the Bible, is full of encouragement and reassurance, there are no promises that a life of serving Him will be the easiest road. In fact, sometimes it’s far easier to clutch our empty “spoon” and refuse to give it up.
But here’s what He does promise: He will transform us and give us a new life. He has a plan and a purpose for us—we will be blessed.
Naomi only took a day and-a-half to cotton on to the fact she needed to drop her spoon in order to grab the yoghurt pouch with both hands. She hasn’t looked back since, and it is my hope and prayer that I can do the same in my own spiritual journey.
Maritza Brunt is a freelance journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. A first-time mother, she has been enjoying the experience of raising a child with her husband, Dan.