And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17 NIV)
When I was living in Cincinnati, OH, the last home I had was an old farm house on Springdale Road. The road was fairly busy with cars day and night. Most of them did not stick to the speed limit. The road had a fair amount of hills on it with the top of one of those hills peaking right in front of our driveway.
Down a little from our driveway directly in front our house was a cross-street leading to a subdivision. People would often drive up over the hill, down a little, then stop and wait to turn left into this subdivision. There were no lights, stop signs, or warning signals of any kind. When the car was low enough to the ground, it was often out of sight to the oncoming traffic behind it. When the conditions were right (or wrong, as the case may be), the oncoming car would not be able to stop in time and we had an accident right in front of our house. This happened with regular frequency (once or twice a year).
When we first moved into this house, our children would play outside on a concrete parking pad right next to the house. The remainder of the driveway was gravel and the yard was green grass over bumpy dirt. Our son was little more than a toddler. Even though the gravel, uneven dirt, and grass would have tried to stop him, he headed straight for the road.
Our neighbor across the street called and alerted us to the expedition our son was taking and I ran out to find him only a couple feet from the road. With everything I had inside me, I yelled, "JOSHUA! NO!"
He froze in his tracks. I ran to him, scooped him up in my arms, and began carrying him back to the house. I kept saying over and over again, "I love you, Buddy. No street. No street." He, I'm sure, couldn't hear me over all the screaming and crying he was doing. He was terrified of me for awhile after that.
Now I ask you, was I being a mean father? I made my child cry. I yelled at him! I also told him I love him. Why did he keep crying?
He wasn't able to process everything that day, but I laid down a rule that he could understand. Later, he understood the complexities of the situation and why that rule was in place. When he was little, though, all he understood clearly was, "No street."
I think about that story often. God has given me rules to follow, but I get upset at Him for it. I think that somehow He is being mean or that I need to completely understand the complexities of the reason for the rule. I really don't. In the beginning, all I really need to understand is "yes" and "no". The rest of the understanding comes with time.
Now that I'm older, I find myself grateful for His rules. They really do lead me down a much better path.
How about you? How do you feel about His rules?