“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long,” (Psalm 25:4–5).
She smiled through a sticky goatee of melted A&W soft-serve. Sitting bib-clad in the back seat of the minivan, our toddler could hardly contain her joy as she held her own ice cream cone for the first time. She plunged her entire face into the mound of sweet milk, then went straight for the jugular and chomped off a hunk of cone. Leaks dripped down her hands and chin.
“Baby girl, you’re supposed to eat the ice cream on top before you bite the cone,” I instructed, laughing at her eager innocence. As I grabbed a wet wipe from the glove box, it occurred to me, learning is messy business.
I know this firsthand.
I’m still learning—how to be a respectful wife, how to raise children selflessly, how to walk by faith and not by sight. And like my daughter, I’ve encountered plenty of messes along the way—most of them of my own doing. I bite into the cone too soon, so to speak. Sometimes the Christian life just isn’t a tidy affair.
Fortunately, we have an excellent teacher. “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way,” (Psalm 25:8–9).
Watching my little one devour her cone, I realized there are no shortcuts to maturity. I can’t spoon-feed her forever, and the only way she’ll discover the most effective way to eat ice cream—or do anything—is by practicing. So with every baby step and accomplishment, I clap my hands and cheer her on.
Do you think God does that for us, too? I like to imagine him flashing a proud papa grin when I choose to trust him with a problem, when I slay my pride in apology to my husband, or when I demonstrate patience toward an unruly child.
I call these “faith skills.” We may spend a lifetime honing them, and the process won’t always be pretty. But it will be worthwhile.
Just ask my daughter. After half an hour, a dozen napkins, and a couple jacket sleeves sacrificed to the cause, she conquered that cone—every last bite.
“How did you like your ice cream, sweetheart?” I asked, capturing the moment in my memory bank.
“Nummy!” she hollered. Her cheeks, fingers and clothes were tacky from syrupy drips, but she didn’t seem to mind. My daughter beamed with delight, and was satisfied.
Good for you, little one. Never let the mess deter you from the goal. What a great lesson for us all.