Posted by: William | March 3, 2008

Stubborn Child

During the evening church service last night, a wonderfully clear example of man’s ingrained wickedness and rebellion bounced around the room—literally. It was following a sermon in which our pastor drew the correlation between the first Passover meal, where the Israelites were to smear blood on their door frames, and Jesus Christ’s death as the Perfect Lamb on the cross. Following the talk, the congregation shared in communion together. During worship and communion, I decided that my attention would be best used if I took the elements and retreated to the back of the room to contemplate and sing.


I sat on the floor with my back against the wall, thinking and praying. This particular week there was a toddler there, likely not much more than two or three years old, with his enthusiastic worshiping caretaker. It wasn’t clear whether or not the woman watching him was a baby-sitter or his mother but it doesn’t really matter. The woman danced about worshipfully with the boy wearing a great big smile on his face. The child was oblivious to the worship, but was thoroughly enjoying the dancing nonetheless. At some point, probably out of protest, the two stopped dancing together and the woman attempted some private worship. Once the woman left the boy alone, he exhibited the most interesting, and typical, behavior.


The child was much too short to see the communion elements that sat on a table at the back of the room, but was just barely tall enough to reach up and blindly grab at them. In his curiosity, this is exactly what he did. When the woman watching him noticed, she would rush to stop him, whisper something (probably rebuke) in his ear then turn him loose again. Within a minute or two, he would be back at the table reaching for the elements. Again, the woman would rush to stop him. Each time the boys facial expression would be of utter disbelief that the woman would dare to stop his exploration. This happened four or five times before she resolved to keep the boy occupied while doing something else.


As the evening drew to a close, the child managed to wander off again and this time found himself near a power strip that kept a string of six or seven dim lights in the back of the room lit. When he noticed the jumble of poorly hidden wires he set out for discovery. It took almost no time at all for the woman to realize what was going on and she began to rush to stop him from playing with the wires. She was too late. He picked up the power strip, found the ‘off button’ and pressed it, but only half way. The lights went off for a second, then came back on. At this point, the woman reached the boy where there was small power struggle for the electrical strip in which the lights went on and off two or three more times. The woman was much more upset this time and made it clear to the child, as was obvious from his facial expression. They left the wires and returned to another part of the room. However, the very first moment the child was free he bolted back to the wires with the angriest of faces. He stopped in front of the jumble and waited for the woman to come after him. The moment he received her attention, he stomped on the power strip. Seconds later, she arrived and dragged him off.


I spent much of the service interested in the couple and halfway laughing at the boy’s stubbornness. It wasn’t until later that a good friend pointed something out to me. That child’s stubbornness was so clearly and obviously an illustration of the bigger condition of men. By the time we’re adults, we’ve figured out how not to look so rebellious, but it’s clear that even as a small child our wickedness is practically written into our DNA; we don’t need to learn it from anyone, our own heart will teach us. The worst part is, that even as adults, without the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, nothing will have changed. We will still stubbornly and rebelliously fold our arms in protest and anger against God. It’s things like these that remind me of the greatness of God’s grace—at just the right time, while we were still weak, still at enmity with Him, Christ died for the ungodly.



  1. alright, it’s time for me to come out of my blog coma. Your using my thoughts for inspiration shook me out of my laziness.

    Well written explanation. It was really kind of repulsive for me to watch the boy rebel again and again. Why must we be so selfish and silly?

  2. well said! I love the idea of using examples of children and their innate draw to rebellion (no one teaches a child to rebell, they just do) as a connector for our lives/flesh as being prone to sin and rebell against God.

    Great story. I watched the kid last night as well, but didn’t make the connection until you mentioned to me what was said.

  3. Yeah, I believe God gives us children to teach us what the words “rebellion” and “unconditional” actually feel like.

  4. Good post.
    It reminds me of a talk I had with a friend about rebellion and discipline not too long ago. Although we weren’t talking about children, we were talking about dogs… and ourselves of course. And how God warns us over and over not to do something but we still do it over and over, whether out of rebellion, doubt, anger, spite, ignorance, or for attention, there we are…again.
    He related it to training his dog. Once again after scolding him he held him in a headlock yelled ‘NO! ‘and the dog fought back, so he repeated, ‘no!’ still the dog yelped and struggled to get out, Taylor started to settle and whisper in his puppies ear, ‘no, i said, you cant do that.’
    finally the dog submitted… giving up his fight and recognizing his masters wisdom and power.
    Is the that not we are? God can tell us over and over NO! and we continue– [hopefully] eventually we realize the seriousness as he grips us tightly in His arms and says, ‘no my child, this is not good for you.’

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