That Will Leave a Mark

She had her teeth buried in his thigh!

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a little girl express her displeasure at her father quite like it.  Moments before, all had been peaceful as she played at the little table we keep in the music store for youngsters just like her, accompanying their parents.  Normally, the toys on the table keep the children occupied and happy while their parents conduct business with us.

And so it had been, earlier in the day.  The Native American man, along with his pretty little girl, had dropped by to leave a guitar to be repaired.  The little miss had played happily while we discussed the work to be done.  It had taken a few minutes and I suppose her father had been just as happy for her to have the entertainment as she was to play there.  When they left, promising to return in an hour or two, the little tyke was all smiles, waving bye-bye enthusiastically.

What a difference two hours makes!

After lunch, the pair returned to retrieve the instrument.  The repair had gone smoothly and all the time that was necessary on this visit was a moment or two to check the repair and pay the bill.

Evidently, the young lady had intended this stay to last longer.

When her father told her it was time to go, she dallied for only a moment.  She stood up from the tiny chair and walked to the door behind him, obediently.  If I had been deaf, I would have thought she was happy to do his bidding.

I’m not deaf.  Her scream went right through me.

She screamed all the way out to the car.  She wasn’t crying, just screaming in anger.  Following him to the back of the car, where he placed his guitar in the trunk, she continued to scream.  But, when he came back around the side of the car to open the door, she was hugging his leg.  Quietly.

I breathed a sigh of relief.  Everything was all right.  The storm was over. She was probably even smiling.

Just then, I noticed where her face was.  It was against his thigh very tightly.

She was biting him through his blue jeans. Biting him!  No, she wasn’t smiling.

Calmly, he opened the door and lifted her from his leg, placing her in the car seat inside.  The only emotion he showed as he closed the passenger door gently and opened his own was to shake his head a little sadly.

I’m still trying to sort out my feelings.  Different cultures certainly have diverse ways of raising their children, but my reaction would have been considerably different.

Somehow though, the father’s reaction isn’t what I’m struggling with.  The child’s actions intrigue me.

She was obedient.  Obedient.

My mind jumps to the words from the Bible which many who grew up in the church are thinking about right now.

Children obey your parents

I’m smiling as I write.  The child obeyed her father, moving to the door when he instructed her to.  I’m not saying her heart was in it.  It wasn’t.  Nevertheless, she did as she was bidden.

But, there is something added to the words from the Bible I quoted above, isn’t there?

Honor your father and mother

Somehow, I don’t think there was much honor in those teeth buried in that man’s leg.  The little darling’s obedience came with a caveat.

Obedience isn’t always rendered with honor.

I’m not smiling anymore.

The little toddler can be excused for her selfishness.  She will grow into the knowledge of what is right and wrong.

Me?  I’ve already lived a few more years than she.  Quite a few.

The implications grow clearer in my mind.  If, in our relationship with our human parents, our obedience should be an outgrowth of the honor due them, how much more is that true in our relationship to God who is our Heavenly Father?

I wonder.

True obedience–the kind which comes from the heart–grows out of respect and honor.  Fear of repercussions and punishment only yields the obedience of a subordinate or slave.

Grace frees us from that fear.  Grace and love.

Time to quit screaming and baring my teeth, isn’t it?

Honor.  And, obedience.

There is still so much to learn.

Out of the mouths (and teeth) of babes…




“There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
(1 John 4:18 ~ NIV)




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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