On Saturday we took the twins to an unused baseball field to let them run around in the outfield. Both boys are at a point in their life where running is their top priority. Since our backyard is fairly uneven, rocky, and has a variety of levels, it's not really conducive for toddler activities. So we have been brainstorming about ways to help them burn their restless energy. And that is how our Saturday activity was born.
Daniel noticed the baseball field when he was playing tennis earlier that morning. He could hardly wait for the twins to wake from their nap so we could take them out to play. In his fatherly imagination it was going to be a great time. And it was. From the minute we got there both boys could hardly contain their excitement. Zach, who is a little more active than Luke, ran for the entirety of our time there. As he ran through the grass, from one end to the other, he screamed and laughed like we had never heard before. Both of their faces expressed such joy, that in turn made us joyful. As we drove home from our time there (they ran for thirty minutes straight and were dripping sweat!), we couldn't stop talking about how much fun we had. But what struck us was how our excitement was simply owing to the delight we saw in our children. For those thirty minutes Zach and Luke were filled with unbridled joy in doing what they were made to do, which for 16 month old boys is to run and run and run until you can't run anymore. And we felt every bit of that joy.
As I've reflected on this experience more I have been amazed at how kind God is to give us such beautiful, living, tangible metaphors to understand the depth of his love for us. So many of our earthly realities are designed to point us to the perfect heavenly one that is waiting for us. Through our very lives we are living these metaphors. But even more than that we get to experience a taste of the beauty the metaphor is describing. When I think of how happy I was to see my boys enjoy something so small as running in an open field, it pales in comparison to God's delight in giving us good gifts. He loves seeing his children appreciate and find joy in the good gifts he gives so freely.
But more than that his gifts to us are always for our good. We took our sons to an open field, and not our backyard, because we know what is best for them. We know they want to run. We know they love being outside. But we also know that four foot tall drop-offs and rocky terrain are not the best places for wobbly toddlers. So we took them to a place that was better for them. We didn't withhold the gift. We simply gave it parameters and a better context. If the twins had only known the rocks, broken sticks, and uneven landscape of our backyard they would never have known the wonder of a flat open field where they could run with abandon for hours.
God is infinitely more loving and wise than that. He delights in giving us good gifts. And even when those gifts are withheld or seem far away, he is not doing so arbitrarily. He has a purpose. He has greater joy awaiting us. In our finite minds we would settle for the rocky terrain and uneven landscape, when in God's perfect wisdom he has open fields just around the corner.