I suspect that most children have heard this expression at least once in their lives. If you are a part of my generation, you probably heard it more than once, and if you had been a fly on the wall in my home as I was growing up, you would have heard it a great many times. My parents were of the belief that children didn’t need explanations, they were just to obey. Promptly.
If an instruction to do something was given, it didn’t matter to my parents whether or not I wanted to do what they asked. It certainly never occurred to them to consult me as to how I felt about doing whatever was asked. And understanding why I had to sweep the porch, or hang the clothes on the line was not important; what was important is that the task be completed. Promptly.
I remember thinking that I would NEVER say that to my children….
But there was a moment in time I got a glimpse of what my mother’s world was like. I will try very hard to paint this picture in your minds, but the reality is that you just had to be there to truly understand…..
My father was self-employed; he always had numerous ventures going, all at the same time, and would come and go throughout the day. If he wanted to bring someone to the house with him, it never occurred to give my mother notice that there would be a guest. My mother was a full-time homemaker with five children. We lived in a house (built by my dad) that was large enough to contain us all with a little room to spare, as my older sister had left the nest, married, and had a baby of her own.
At this time, I am in my early teens. My sister, her husband and baby happened to be staying with us that summer. Our home was filled to capacity. She and I had set up our sewing machines up in the dining area and she had put the baby down for a nap. Now this was no easy thing. He HATED naps and had the lung capacity of an experienced scuba diver. He could scream for a reeeeaaaalllllyyyy long time! Our dining area and kitchen were combined, so as we sewed we could see our mother cooking. (For the better part of my childhood, she cooked three meals a day, plus thousands upon thousands of cookies and cakes.) So we sewed and talked and laughed with the sound of a crying child in the background. We just talked louder.
We three were busy about our tasks, as my dad walks through with one of his friends (unannounced), on a mission to complete some type of project in the house. I think my new brother-in-law was in tow, but much of this is a blur, so I’m not sure. I have no idea where my other siblings were. While we were sewing, mom was cooking, dad was back and forth through the kitchen with one or more persons following, the milkman arrives for our bi-weekly delivery. (Yes, we really did have milk delivered to our house – but make no mistake, it was in plastic gallon jugs, not glass bottles from a horse drawn buggy!!) There are 10 people living in this house and the milkman delivered 7 gallons of milk twice per week. My mom is scrambling to juggle whatever is on the stove with cleaning out the refrigerator to accommodate the milk, answering my father’s questions as he came through, and who knows what else.
And in that moment I see the utter chaos that often defined my mother’s world. I remember my sister and I laughing at the craziness of it all. After that, “because I said so” made a little more sense when my mother needed something done.
Jesus’ told His disciples “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak” John 12:49
When the Father told Jesus what to do, He did not respond with the childish “but why?”. And much of what the Father said to do didn’t make sense to the human mind. I don’t see Jesus going to God with: You want me to do what? Why do I have to spit in the dirt and put the mud on the guys eyes? Why can’t I do it another way?
He heard the command of His Father and obeyed. Promptly.
That scripture from John has been on my mind a lot. I pray lofty prayers of wanting more of God, but do I speak to that stranger I see crying when I feel that gentle prompting? Do I give the dirty, homeless beggar my lunch money, or do I reason in my mind that his motives are deceptive? Do I make that phone call, confront that difficult situation, tell that person about Jesus? Or do I ask God “why”? Or even worse, do I ignore His command?
I believe God wants to give us insight and understanding into His ways. Our open and surrendered hearts give Him opportunity to do just that. But I believe our unquestioning obedience comes first. Doing whatever He says to do. Promptly. Because He said so.