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I Want to be the Second Child!

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In Matthew 21:28-32 Jesus shares a story of a man with two sons he told to go and do some work for him. One responds with an enthusiastic and quick yes – but decides not to do anything. The other first refuses, then decides to go and do as he was asked. Jesus asked his hearers, “What do you think?” And, “Which of the two did the will of his father?” When it comes to me and God, I want to be the second child who does the will of the father. This story was an afront and deep challenge to the faith leaders of the day who claimed to live and walk in righteousness and faith and seemed to be modelling an exemplary lifestyle. Yet Jesus, in characteristic audacity is heard saying “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you” – (they believed and repented – and even when you saw this you didn’t change your mind and believe with them). In Luke 5:32 we also hear Jesus say that he didn’t come to call those who think they are righteous but those who know they are sinners and need to repent. There is strength and joy and peace and life for those of us who will lay down our pride and humble ourselves before God and repent. I want to be the second child: more confident in Jesus and not in my faith or goodness which (even in their prime) the scriptures would say are but filthy rags.

In prayer this week I have encountered again what benefit there is to being the second child: yes in walking in repentance, but beyond this in our call to intimacy. It was like God was sharing with me another parable of two children (this time much like the story of Mary and Martha) I found myself astutely aware of two children I could chose to be like and again I want to be the second child.

In my parable the first child loved to come to their father and was confident in His love and favour and would ask for all manner of things and enjoy the privilege and pleasure of the Father’s generosity and grace. The child would come often, share their heart and hopes with a Father always so happy to listen, and boldly ask, receive and go out with such blessings that many would wonder at the favour and provision in which this child lived and what he knew of the father.

The second child came to the father and also desired and needed things which were in the father’s power and grace to provide but instead of claiming their spoils (which the father was only too happy to give) drew nearer their father and sat as close as they could to Him (like snuggling near on the couch). Enjoying His nearness the second child just wanted to hear anything the father may choose to share especially things they did not yet know. It was like each new revelation was a breathing in of the pure fresh air of His goodness and love, and that they would find nourishment in the wonder of His stories, thoughts, attitudes and the very way He would think about, live, act and respond to all they would explore together. There seemed to be no end to His goodness, wisdom, peace, confidence and love. Often surprised at the father’s person and ways, many times confronted by the variance between the father and themselves but feeling drawn upwards and encouraged to become more like Him. Something of the father was caught more than taught from just being near. Joy was found in just being with him and just by being with him they found they were different, somehow better in their person and state as well as in thought, and deed. Often as they would go into their day they would find that they also received things from the father they had not taken the time to ask for.    

I want to be the second child, I choose to draw nearer and to want the giver above the gift and I share the prayer of a second child who knew the father’s favour and provision and walked this walk well before my time, “If it is true that you look favourably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favour…” Exodus 33:13  

I want to be the second child…