I’ve admitted before that when it comes to my grandkids, our house is pretty much the “Land of Yes.” Within reason, that is. I mean, it’s pretty easy for them to coax me into one more cookie or a few extra minutes playing video games, but I’m not about to let 4-year-old Sadie drive my car, no matter how cute she is.
We can afford to say “yes” a lot because we trust our sons and daughters-in-law to administer the discipline necessary to prevent these precious kids from growing into narcissistic sociopaths. Parents are the meat and veggies; we’re the dessert.
A couple of weeks ago, I got to take the “Land of Yes” on the road as our entire clan — six adults and seven young grandkids — vacationed together at the beach. It was crazy, loud and wonderful. I almost never had to be the “heavy” and was usually free to just enjoy all that grandcuteness and leave the hard stuff, such as settling disputes and enforcing bedtimes, to the kids’ parents.
When I’m with my grandchildren, I’m keenly aware that they are fun to be around, not because of all the “yeses” I give them, but because their parents are teaching them to accept “no” and to respect authority and boundaries.
The “Land of Yes” might be fun to visit, but no one is meant to live there all the time. Some adults, however, currently seem to be having a hard time accepting that reality, as crime rates soar in some major cities and we see a growing disdain for anyone who’s been given the authority to tell us “no.”
We’re blessed in the United States with freedom to express our opinions and to try to change things, but there are right and wrong ways to go about that. Our motives and methods do matter, and even more so for those of us who claim to follow Christ, since we’re commanded to love our enemies, speak the truth in love, and respect the positions of those placed in authority over us, whether we think they’ve personally earned that respect or not.
While God’s authority always supersedes any earthly authority, the Apostle Paul nevertheless wrote: “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Romans 13:1b).
Tough words to read, perhaps, but maybe even tougher for Paul to write, considering all the abuse he personally endured at the hands of government and religious leaders.
When Jesus lived as a man on earth, He experienced the injustices inflicted upon the Jewish people by their Roman rulers, but the Bible doesn’t record Him saying much about that. Jesus knew what we often forget: this world isn’t the end-all or be-all of our existence, but a testing ground where we each accept or reject God’s offer of eternal salvation and His right to rule our lives. Those who reject Him are doomed to experience, as author C.S. Lewis said, “the horrible freedom they demanded” as they live eternally separated from God and any trace of His goodness and love.
In my last column, I mentioned watching a dramatic miniseries about the building of the Titanic. At the end, various characters, with whom I’d formed a pretend bond, decided whether or not to go on the ship’s ill-fated maiden voyage. Every time someone booked a ticket, I wanted to scream, “Nooooooo! Don’t do it!”
I feel that same way when I see people embrace the lie that doing whatever they feel like doing, legal or not, equals freedom. It doesn’t. Those who demand to live in the “Land of Yes” aren’t free at all, but miserably enslaved to their own selfish impulses, desires, and ambitions, the cruelest masters of all.