Staring into the Mouth of Unbelief

Last weekend was pretty intense at our house. One of my six-year-old’s front two teeth was ready to fall out, but she was terrified of the pain she might feel if it did. 

I tried everything short of yanking it out. There were pep talks, come-to-Jesus meetings, silly games, medical advice, stories from my childhood it went on and on, but in the end, the same thing happened every time: She broke down in tears and said, “I want it out, but I don’t want you to take it out.”

On Saturday night, my wife told me I needed to grab it and force it out of her mouth like parents did in the old days, but I refused because I didn’t want to freak her out. But on Sunday, after three nights of tooth removal drama, I was done with all the negotiating. The tooth was so loose by then, I was afraid she would end up swallowing it in her sleep, and I wasn’t going to deal with the added drama of a missing tooth.

“Alright, help me hold her down,” I said to my wife.

“No, Daddy! No!” cried my daughter.

“Look,” I said, “I told you this isn’t going to hurt, and I’m about to show you that it won’t. Here we go.”

Then I grabbed her little tooth with a tissue, and with very little effort, pulled it right out.

“Don’t do it, Daddy!” she cried, “Don’t do it!”

“It’s already out. See? That wasn’t so bad.”

She got excited as we examined the little tooth, and I picked her up, gave her a hug, and congratulated her. To my surprise, her little face twisted into a near-cry, and she said, “Daddy, I’m sorry for not believing you.”

Don’t Make Him Hold You Down

I’ll tell you the same thing I told her: She’s got nothing to be ashamed of, because I’ve done the same thing with my heavenly Dad. He calls me to some kind of obedience, and it seems like the hardest thing in the world.

“No, Daddy, no!” I cry, over and over, resisting His call for me to humble myself and obey. “It’s gonna hurt too much!”

God will only tolerate this in His children for so long before He, like any good Dad, disciplines those He loves; and it isn’t always pleasant (Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12:6). As my pastor friend Steve Blair says, “The Word says, ‘Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord’ [James 4:10] — you don’t want Him to have to do it.”

Maybe you’ve been resisting God’s call to forgive, apologize, give with great generosity, or stop gossiping about someone. You’ve sensed the Holy Spirit calling you to humble yourself and obey, but you’ve resisted instead. Go ahead and obey — don’t force God’s hand. Then after you obey, get up in His arms and say, “Daddy, I’m sorry for not believing You.” He will gladly accept your apology and give you a new opportunity to obey for His sake and yours.

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