Her eyes popped wide open. To four-year old Marti, the hastily torn wrapping paper revealed the most beautiful doll house she could imagine. She had asked for a doll house for Christmas, but the picture on the box was far better than anything she had seen in the stores. It was more like a doll mansion, complete with ornate decorations and rooms full of antique furniture. She couldn't wait to get the box open.
When she finally did get it open, her joy faded somewhat as she saw it was filled only with doll house pieces. She would have to put it together before she could start playing. Oh well, she thought, I can do it and it will be so much fun when I'm finished I don't mind at all. So, with a determined look on her face, she dumped out all the pieces and began.
Now from my vantage point, looking down from the couch, Marti's wonderful Christmas looked like it would soon turn into a disaster. When I bought the doll house I was worried that even I wouldn't be able to put it together without wrecking it. Now Marti was hard at work assembling the delicate parts and I knew I would soon have to interfere before things got out of hand.
"Hey Marti," I said hopefully, "That looks kind of complicated, would you like some help?" "Oh no, Dad, "she replied, "I can do it myself." So, feeling rejected, I resigned myself to watching from afar as she went about her task.
Well, you can guess what happened next. Marti became frustrated and began to complain to everyone about the now stupid doll house. Exhausted from the festivities and her efforts, she gave up on the doll house and went to her room pouting. I went in to offer her some consolation but she was fast asleep.
I felt sad because the present I thought would be the big hit of this year's Christmas turned out to be a big flop. I was also upset because I knew how hard Marti had wanted to please me by assembling the doll house herself and I admit I would have been pretty impressed. For Marti, though, it was important to show that she could do it herself. She wanted to prove that she was a "big girl", a contributing member of the family.
It would have been so easy for her to sit back and watch me put together the doll house for her and she knew that she would be able to play with it much sooner that way. I would have loved nothing more than to complete the doll house for her so that she could begin enjoying it. Instead the day was a failure and we both ended up unhappy.
As you may have guessed this isn't really a story about Marti and me. It's a parable about the principles and attitudes in God's family. Marti represents what the Bible refers to as the flesh or the sin nature. This principle has warred against the spirit throughout the history of God's people.