A baby boy was born to a family with a sister several years older than him. She had become used to being the center of attention and having her way and wasn’t sure about sharing the spotlight with this new baby. She was not pleased when everyone focused on the new baby that from her perspective did nothing but cry and sleep.
After the novelty of the new baby had worn off, neighbors and family stopped focusing on the new baby. Once the girl realized that her rival was just another baby to the adults around her, she began to smile again. Being a pretty child with a demanding personality, people usually paid her the attention she sought.
Once the power struggle was resolved, the older sister loved her brother and was very affectionate. She became possessive, believing he was ‘her baby’ and was insecure whenever a stranger tried to hold him. She wanted to be the center of his world, and tried to make that happen. She not only wanted his attention, she wanted her brother to agree with her on everything, and so she set about teaching him her perspective on everything.
Her parents were relieved to see affection build between the siblings, although sometimes their daughter tired of her baby brother. She often left him crying behind a locked door and sometimes intentionally slipped away when he turned his head to look at something. She came home from school with a big smile when she found her brother waiting by the door for her. His toys were often piled under the big front window so that he could watch for her while he played.
As much as she loved having all the attention, she was quickly annoyed when her adoring brother came up with his own ideas. She expected him to wait for her to tell him how he should play and what they would do that day. She quickly lost her temper when he played with her things while she was away. She yelled at the adoring face of her brother, but it was hard to stay angry for long.
Her demands grew as the years went by. For her birthday she detailed exactly what she expected from her brother. One year her wish list included his cleaning her room. He was thrilled to do it, but he stopped when their mother became angry about it. She lectured her daughter that a clean room was her responsibility, not her little brother’s. With a smile, the girl promised to let her brother choose his own gift “next year”.
The boy started school and began making friends with other kids beyond their neighborhood. As he placed more value on his friends’ opinions, his sister became jealous and over time her hold on her little brother seemed to disappear. His interests were no longer solely based on what she loved. It was too much for her to hear that he had a new favorite color. She ran sobbing to her father and begged him to make her brother stop growing up.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story —————
In this story I wanted to reflect on the need to control
22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
In Matthew 4:22 we are shown the result of the invitation Jesus made in verse 21. The two brothers chose to ‘immediately’ leave their career and even their father to follow Jesus. This got me thinking about my son as we celebrated the Fourth of July together and he told us it was “the bestest day ever.” If I’m honest, a part of me is disturbed when I think that Jesus caused these sons to leave their father while they worked together. It also disturbs me to think that my son will also choose something different than me and there is nothing I can say to prevent that. Sometimes I am not sure I like free will!
If God wanted to force complete allegiance from everyone, it would happen. Even though God could do that, it is His will and decision not to. He grants us the freedom to choose for ourselves while balancing His ultimate sovereignty (a.k.a. He is in charge) over the entire universe. The argument over whether we choose or God compels us has divided people for centuries, so let’s not get too wrapped up in that. Maybe it is enough to say it is a mystery that God’s ultimate power does not equate to force – He made personal choice a factor.
Even if we choose God, we can still turn our back on Him, and we often do. There are many moments where Jesus followers got it wrong, but in this verse I think the two brothers made the right decision. In my opinion the greatest significance they would ever have was decided when Jesus was put first. I know my son must choose for himself as well. I’m worrying about possibilities I can’t control and in contrast God has freely invited us to make the choice to trust Him.
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