We’ve walked past the bookstand, past the cafe with its smell of hot chocolate and sticky buns, and are heading for ’T’shirts, when my arm is grabbed. Arrested in my progress, I swing round to find that I’m being embraced with greater affection than normal by my eleven year old son.
I’m quite familiar with the routine, and a routine is most certainly what it is.
I’m being worked on.
’Being worked on’ is the term we laughingly use for the persuasive manoevres adopted by James when he’s set his heart on something that either parent – most commonly me – might be resistant to. In this case, a four foot high puppet made of bright blue and green furry fabric, two enormous eyes and a large grey beak. This, we are assured, is an emu.
And he employs such artistry in his persuasive endeavours. He is quite undeterred by any grumpiness or resistance that might need to be overcome. He doesn’t whine complain or negotiate. He simply puts his arms around me, tells me how much he loves me, tells me what a lovely mummy I am, (something we both know is palpably not true) and, with hands clasped imploringly under his chin, his eyes go the size of saucers as he looks pleadingly into mine in true fluffy meerkat style.
We all know what’s going on here, but its a game we play and, actually, it’s fun.
He knows that I know, and I know that he knows etc., that if James didn’t want something at that moment, I wouldn’t be getting this performance. My grandmother used to call it cupboard love. James knows that there is every chance that my answer will be ’no’, but he also knows that, sometimes, the answer might be ’yes’. And he also knows that he can, with enough loving persistence, occasionally, turn a resounding ’no’ to an indulgent ’oh alright then’.
Which has all rather brought it home to me, how much God loves us to go to him with our petitions. We are loved even more than I love James (how can that be possible?!). He doesn’t look for negotiations and promises of better behaviour, he doesn’t need reasons and constructions as to why something is a good idea, but he does love to receive our passionate love for our indulgent father.
I love it when James asks me for things – it will be a sad day when he stops feeling the need to.
And, I suspect our Father God loves it just as much when we ask him for things. Of course, just like me with James, He won’t give us everything we ask for, He loves us too much for that. But, just as – whether the answer is an indulgent ’yes’, a decisive ’no’ or, perhaps, a ’not yet’ – I laugh with pleasure and hug James, in exactly the same way, our Father will always smile indulgently and embrace us.
And the exchange will bring joy to both sides.
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