We were playing Ninja Turtles, 'cause that's what you do when you have little boys. I was taking advantage of all the mom cred I could since I know that Donatello is the purple one and orange one is called Mikey. There are advantages to growing up with boys. Noah and Zeke were both pretending to be the blue and red turtles (Noah's code names: Fred and Luke, Zeke's code names: Superhero and Superhero). I was purple, and I think my code name was Mom. We decided that baby Simon would be Mikey. He didn't object.
Playing pretend is such a natural state for little kids, and it can be so hard as an adult. But for that night, I was "in." ...Let's be honest, not as in as when I was a kid, but definitely more in than I had been lately. We were fighting off monsters and defending our lodge. (I told them it was called a lair, but they were not interested in that.)
I am a natural follower, even when playing pretend with a couple of little children. I was following their lead on our quest to get the monsters.
We started to attack the bad guys, and in a split second, I went from the follower to the leader. I pretend-fought in ways I hadn't done in 25 years, and in ways my boys hadn't thought of before. As soon as they saw me do a roundhouse kick, they were attempting to kick the air (which apparently is not a natural skill for 3- and 5-year olds--they looked ridiculous). But they kept on copying me. They were mimicking every phrase and fight sound that came out of my mouth. And they did it so quickly--the words had no sooner hit their ears than they were coming out of their mouths. I couldn't believe the power I had in that moment to influence their thoughts and their actions.
I was struck by how eager they were to copy me. I was impressed that they didn't care how silly it looked or sounded--they just did it because I did it.
Obedience ...following... is sometimes like that.
Their imitation struck me this week, because our family has been reading through some Old Testament stories in our Bible storybook. Joshua fighting Jericho, Abraham being willing to sacrifice Issac, Moses leading thousands of people through the Red Sea: none of these make sense. None of these relied on the leader's past experiences. None of these were "normal" actions. And yet God delighted that these individuals followed him, obeyed him, imitated him in these ways.
Usually when God asks us to follow him, we don't really have the skills. We may have never done anything like it before (like a 3-year-old boy trying to do a roundhouse kick). As we grow to be adults, many of us acquire a reservation about doing things that we aren't good at or things that might make us look silly. But I have the feeling that God would much rather have our immediate, all-in imitation of him, rather than our calculated, reserved actions.
Today, I am challenged to imitate in two ways. I am challenged to imitate in the style that the boys do: wholeheartedly, without analyzing, and enjoying every minute of it. I am also challenged to chose to be imitating God in what I do, because I have three pairs of eyes that are looking to imitate me.
And you might find me playing pretend Ninja Turtles a little more often.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2