Tonight, as I was putting my four year-old daughter to bed, she said two things:
1) My tummy hurts.
2) I don’t want you to go to work.
For those that have children, # 1 is a fairly normal occurrence. And for it I rubbed her tummy a little bit.
As for #2, I marvel at her burgeoning understanding of the world at large; let me illustrate:
“Honey, are you sad? Do you miss daddy? Why don’t you want me to go to work?”
“Because I’m gonna miss you.”
“Well, I’m gonna miss you, too, but daddy’s gotta go to work.”
“No, I don’t want you to. I don’t want you to die. Stay home with me.”
Where she got this idea I don’t know. For some reason, she thinks I’m going to die when I go to work. I was taken aback by my little Nostradamus in purple jammies.
“Honey, God willing daddy’s not gonna die. But daddy has to go to work if you wanna have clothes and toys and food. Not to mention a house to live in. Do you understand?”
She nodded her head in the affirmative.
“But I still don’t want you to go to work. Stay home.”
“You silly–you’re not gonna miss daddy. You’ll be busy at school. Daddy’s not gonna go anywhere for a long time. He’s gonna be there to walk you down the aisle when it’s time for you to get married.”
“No, daddy! I don’t wanna get married! I wanna stay with you and mommy forever!”
“Honey, I understand. When you’re four it never seems like you’re gonna grow up. I know it’s hard to understand now, but when you’re older it’ll be ok if you feel like moving out.”
“I NEVER WANNA MOVE OUT!”
“Ok, honey, go to sleep now. I love you.”
“I love you, too, daddy. See you in the morning.”
“See you in the morning, sweetie.”
So: she thinks I’m gonna die, and she never wants to move out. She’s right about one those things: someday I am going to die. Whether tomorrow, or sometime later, I will shuffle off this mortal coil. Heck, I can’t even promise her that I’ll be there to walk her down the aisle. Because who really knows the number of their days? Psalm 90:12 says “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (NIV). Basically, recognize our mortality. The brevity of our lives here.
Yes, we as Christians shall live forever; in fact, if we’ve trusted Christ, our eternal life has already begun. But it shan’t be in these bodies we have now. And thank God for that! Mine is aging faster than I’d like, has only one kidney, and a smallish bladder that wakes me at odd hours. And let’s not talk about the odiousness of the “old man,” alright? What a joy it will be to finally be free of the sting of sin. But, wait, that requires death. Drat! O, wretched man am I… But thank-you, Jesus, that you died first! That death’s sting is swallowed up in victory!
Two things happened tonight: my daughter had a tummyache, and I felt her heart’s ache. (Both will ache again, and there’s so little I can do to prevent either). She doesn’t want her daddy to die, but also wants to live with him forever. Barring illness, or injury, the best I can do is forestall the former by engaging in healthy habits. But it is nevertheless inevitable. It will happen, and it will likely break her heart. As for the latter, I’ll believe it when I see it. But that’s ok–we’re raising her to be independent. Nevertheless, someday she won’t need me like she does now, and that will break my heart. The earth is not called the vale of tears for nothing. Still, it’s all shot through with grace. I pray it is grace that she holds onto as she walks her life’s journey. And someday, I hope she will follow me as I follow Christ.
All of this from a conversation with a four year-old? Yes, all this. Kids say the darnedest things. They really do.