Monday, August 29, 2005

How to Cripple a Child

I want to pick up the story of King David again, and I want to spend a little time looking at a small episode involving Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth.

Mephibosheth was five years old when his father and grandfather died. News of this sad event threw the household into a panic. Mephibosheth's nurse grabbed up the five-year-old and, in her haste, dropped him -- crippling him in both feet.

A couple of observations: First, the nurse's inability to calm her own anxiety made what appeared to be a bad situation much worse. How often in our own anxious reactivity do we just end up further complicating things?

Second, think what was communicated to Mephibosheth. If the new King ever gets his hands on you, he's going to kill you. David had no such intention, but the five-year-old didn't know that. Mephibosheth goes on to spend the next 20 years or so hiding from a King who only wanted to show him kindness.

It makes me realize just how important it is to give children accurate information about God. I've known so many people who spent decades hiding from God because someone had told them he was angry and cranky and didn't have their best interests at heart. Because of the nurse's anxiety, she crippled the boy physically. Because of her misinformation about the King's true intentions, she crippled the boy emotionally.

What a tragedy it is to know that our false ideas about God's character and nature often cripple children spiritually as well.