Chillin’ with Dylan

I want to be like Dylan.

Coming from someone my age (born in the 1950s), you might conclude that I mean Bob Dylan – the prophetic singer/song writer and voice of my generation. Although there are days that I aspire to be like the “Tambourine Man,” in this instance, that is not who or what I mean.

No, the Dylan I am referring to is a 3 or 4-year-old boy I observed one day while eating dinner at a local restaurant. Dylan was at a table across the way from me, and I know his name only because his mom used it frequently to keep him focused on finishing his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (Although it appeared that, in his mind, his primary calling in life was that of alternately annoying and entertaining his mom and six-year-old sister.)

As I watched at first, I was struck by some nostalgia as I peered over my shoulder at the “good ole days” when my kids were young and my boys behaved in a similar fashion.   It didn’t take too long to recall the struggle and stress involved with raising a family and providing for their needs while finishing college and starting a highly lucrative teaching career.

As much as I enjoyed my children and those early years, I don’t really wish to hit rewind and live them over again – but I did gain some valuable insights at dinner with Dylan that I’d like to share with you.

As I watched Dylan do his thing, I was struck first by his bouncy blond curls and his impishly cute face and thought to myself how much his mom must adore him.  I know that even at the height of their impishness, my children filled me with joy and laughter (although I often had to hide my amusement in order to appear the stern disciplinarian that dads are supposed to be).

What struck me next was the patient love with which his mom tried to keep him on task – not that she didn’t get somewhat exasperated from time to time as she tried to reel him in, but throughout the meal, even when she was redirecting his energies, there was an overriding sub conscious agenda of love.

Not love out of a parenting book or out of duty. It was obvious that it was a love born out of absolute adoration for this little imp that was hers.

Why do you suppose that she loved this little guy so much?

Was it because someone somewhere told her that she had to?

Was it that to fulfill an unspoken “Mommy Code” she needed to add “loving Dylan” to her list of daily responsibilities?

Or did she perhaps get a pay raise by loving or feigning to love him?

Did she love him more when he properly focused on eating his PB&J and then love him less when he flipped chips into his sister’s hair?

Did she sit and wait for him to step out of line in order to rain down punishment upon his cute little blond curls – because after all, he deserved it and it was “good for him” in the long run?

I would submit that none of the above is true, even though I don’t know the woman nor have I ever met the child.

Even to a casual observer, her love for her son was apparent, but why?

Quite simply, because he is hers.

Dylan came from her – she conceived him, carried him, birthed him, nurtured him, and now loves him simply and only because he is hers.

Her patience and love caused me to realize that in some similar fashion God the Father, my Abba, my Papa, loves me simply and only because I am His.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  … your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:30-33

The second thing I noticed was Dylan’s total lack of concern for anything outside of his sphere of existence on that day. At that time, Dylan’s whole world consisted of his mom, his big sister, the table at which they were seated (at least most of the time), and his PB&J.

He was not concerned about the weather, how much the meal cost, who would pay for it, or whether he would eat tomorrow.

He didn’t care about the upcoming evening obligations and activities; he wasn’t concerned with his college education or his 401-K.

He simply lived in the moment and enjoyed the company of his family with no regard for clothing or shelter or where he would lay his head.

He was living in the reality that he was loved.

Knowing only that he was loved and caring for nothing else – there was a carefree joy on his smudgy little face and an absolute unfettered freedom in his movement.

He was not weighed down by the evils of the world around him nor consumed with worry about where his next PB&J would come from.

If I had to summarize this idea into a single sentence it might come out like this:

“You will trust God to the degree that you believe that you are loved by God.”

Dylan didn’t consciously invoke this environment of trust that enveloped his being – he didn’t manufacture his contentment or security by some act of will.

His unshackled existence was an outworking of his experience – his life experience in the presence and care of one who loved him.

This mindset of absolute trust was a state of being born of the only reality he had ever known,

He knew only that he was cherished.

He was with his mom, and she loved him.

He knew all he had to know.

He had everything he needed,

Nothing more,

Nothing less,

He had it all.

Jesus said, “What I’m about to tell you is true. You need to change and become like little children. If you don’t, you will never enjoy the kingdom of heaven… Matthew 18:2-4

I’d like to be more like Dylan,

How about you?

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