Disgruntled boy - Not wanting to trust the Lord - S. J. Little
*Note: details of this allegory have been altered to preserve confidentiality

Have you ever seen a child having a temper tantrum? As a preschool teacher, I’ve seen countless. Thankfully, the children in my class typically learn quickly that a tantrum won’t get them what they want. Have I learned that having a tantrum against God doesn’t help?

Child crying. Tantrum or meltdown

Did you know? While they may look the same, there’s a difference between tantrums and meltdowns? A meltdown is when a child is overwhelmed or over-exhausted to the point of breaking down in tears and frustration. A tantrum, on the other hand, is a controllable action. It is a decision (though potentially subconscious) to behave a certain way in hopes of getting something. 

Not too long ago, little Tommy, a 2 year old, had a tantrum. 

He had just arrived in class, and wanted something he wasn’t allowed to have. Upon being informed that he couldn’t have it, he started crying and declared even louder that he wanted it. Pretty soon he was lying on the floor screaming.

I tried to talk him out of it (without giving him the forbidden object), but he wouldn’t quiet. I tried distracting him with exciting toys, but he cried harder.

Therefore, I moved to another part of the room, though still watching him out of the corner of my eye. I gave him space to scream it out while I went about my morning with the other children.

Finally, after a considerable length of his crying on the floor, I noticed his tantrum beginning to lessen. As his crying decreased, I came alongside him. I gave him a toy and reminded him that we’d soon be cleaning up for our next activity.

It took him a few more minutes with a teacher by his side, but soon he got to his feet and joined the other children with the toys.

He yawned a few times and, indeed, appeared rather sleepy. That tantrum had taken a lot of energy. He was mellow, though happy now and engaged with the activities.

His tantrum left him tired and didn’t get him the thing he wanted.

Not long after that day, I happened to be reading Proverbs chapter three in my morning devotional time.

Prov. 3:5-6 is a beautiful passage that I’ve been encouraged and challenged by many times in the past. In fact,  in my post “My Cat is Bad at Following” I use these verses. In case you need a refresher, Prov. 3:5-6 NKJV says:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

I continued reading. At verse 8, the image of Tommy on the floor crying, then being so tired after, came to mind.

Prov. 3:8 NIV says:

“This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”

Because of a health issue I deal with, anything saying it will give health catches my attention. I want to know more.

What is the “this” that will increase my health? I had to look back to find it.

At verse five, which I quoted above, a new paragraph starts. Verses five and six talk about trusting God rather than my own understanding. Verse seven is straightforward. It says, “Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”

Trusting the Lord and not being wise in my own eyes sounds like the opposite of a tantrum. Tommy wasn’t trusting that I knew best. He wanted what he thought was best and wouldn’t listen to my reasoning.Girl feeling unhappy - Not wanting to trust the Lord - S. J. Little

Sometimes I’m like Tommy.

Sometimes God says no, but I still want that thing. Sometimes God says move, but I want to stay. Sometimes God says wait, but I want it now.

In the past few years, I’ve gone through seasons of having a form of tantrum against God. Times when I am frustrated because He hasn’t taken away my health issues. Times when I remind God of all the serving opportunities I’d be thrilled to be involved in, but have had to turn down because my health isn’t good enough. Wouldn’t it be better if God took away my health issues so I could serve more?

Yet whenever I get into that mindset, I am not trusting God. It steals my contentment. I find myself frustrated and joy-less.

After seeing how clearly Tommy was exhausted after his tantrum, and after reading Prov. 3:8, I realize that these seasons of tantrum in my life only burn me out, rather than convincing God to change His mind.

While it doesn’t take away my health issues, being content to trust the Lord’s understanding rather than my own does make a noticeable improvement on my physical health, and even more so for the health of my soul.

Oh, that I would learn to always trust the Lord rather than tantrum against Him.

River with ice melting along the banks. God is working to melt the ice in me. S. J. Little

Autumn, my favourite season of the year. The leaves turn colours, the air is crisp, and the first snow coats the ground.

I was recently blessed to be able to spend a few days in the Rocky Mountain foothills. I enjoyed the opportunity for quiet morning walks and time to reflect and press deeper into my relationship with Jesus.

Although it had snowed a couple of days before I arrived, the temperatures during my stay reached above freezing.

As I strolled through the forest on my second morning, I followed my footsteps from the previous day to a rocky beach along a nearby river where I’d sat the day before.

I looked up at a sound, not quite sure what it was. River with melting iceAfter watching and listening for a time, I concluded that the sound came from the ice on the river as it melted. Indeed, the ice lining the edges of the river was far smaller on this second day than it had been the day before. No longer was the ice threatening to span across the river.

As I ran my gaze over the melting ice, my mind wandered back to the things I’d been pondering and praying about at this beach the morning before. They were painful thoughts rather than pleasant. Thoughts of some challenges I’ve been facing in my life recently. Thoughts which, at times, inspire tears.

Looking at the river, I recalled a common allegory. It pictures me, a Christian, as a channel through which God’s love can flow. The love doesn’t come from me. Rather, God is working through me.

Sometimes, however, things in my life hinder the flow of God’s work through me. In the same way, the ice on this river hampered its flow. Indeed, the ice had constricted the river to a mere half of its typical width. Yet now, as the ice continued to melt, the river flowed more freely and fully.Cracked ice on a river - S. J. Little

Using this allegory, God reminded me of a different perspective on the challenges I’ve been facing. God is using them for good. 

In my life, I have areas, just like the ice, constraining the flow of God’s work through me. In order to melt that ice inside of me, God is allowing these challenges. They hurt and throb, perhaps like fingers thawing after a snowball fight. Yet, somehow, the end result will be good, as I lean into God during this time of challenge.

These challenges are melting those troublesome areas of ice within me, that I may more fully be available for God to work through me.

Is this an easy thing to remember? No, but what a burden it lifts when I do remember.

Indeed, I write this post as a reminder to myself to keep my eyes on the end result, rather than the current challenges which threaten to overwhelm me.

Romans 6:3-5 is a good reminder for me along these lines.

“We also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts…” Rom. 6:3b-5a CSB

In reflecting on these things, I have found A. W. Tozer’s words to be true.

“When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.” – A. W. Tozer

Oh, that I would remember that God is working in me when challenges come.

Is it my power, or God’s power, that brings the impact? - S. J. Little

Is it my power, or God’s power, that brings the impact?

Ah, camp. I don’t know about you, but I love being at camp. This summer I was again blessed with the opportunity to volunteer at a Christian summer camp. I thoroughly enjoy such times, though, boy, can they be busy!

Each morning, with the knowledge that I’ll be hardpressed to find downtime during the day, I try to get up fifteen minutes early in order to slip out for a brief walk in the woods.

As I slipped out for my early morning walk with Jesus on the first morning, I wandered into the woods. How wonderful to be out of the city and surrounded by God’s creation.

I found a log to sit on while I stopped to read a short Psalm. Glancing at my watch, I knew I had to get moving, so I put my Bible back in my bag, and strolled toward camp singing a song of praise.

Then I heard it. I stood still and listened. Tap, tap, tap. A woodpecker must be nearby.

Slowly I turned in a circle, eyeing the trees. Could I spot the bird?Looking for woodpeckers in the forest - The Woodpecker's Power - S. J. Little

It sounded rather distant, so I started walking toward the sound. Five steps later the sound appeared to be coming from the opposite direction. I turned and walked toward the sound again. This time I only took one step before the sound seemed to switch direction again. I was confused for a moment. Then, looking straight up the nearest tree, I smiled.

There it was. A little woodpecker.

He wasn’t a fancy woodpecker – no red crest or orange wings. He was a small brown and white bird.

He was hard at work, far overhead, pecking away at the tree.

I dared only stay a minute or two, as I couldn’t be late for staff devotions, but what a lovely way to start the day. I spoke a prayer of thanks as I moved away.

Seeing the woodpecker brought to memory an allegory I’ve heard before. I don’t know who first used this allegory, but Corrie ten Boom and Jonathan Goforth are among those who’ve included it in their messages. It is a powerful reminder.

The allegory goes like this: Once there was a woodpecker. He went about hisDid the tree split because of the woodpecker or the lightning? - S. J. Little business of tapping on trees, whether looking for bugs to eat or building himself a home.

One stormy day, as he pecked at a large sturdy tree, a bolt of lightning struck the very tree he was tapping on. The tree split in half.

The little woodpecker blinked. Then lifted his head proudly. “I didn’t know I had such power!”

Of course, I know it was not the woodpecker’s power that split the tree. The power belonged to the lightning. 

The little woodpecker was helpless to take down the tree by himself. Likewise, I am helpless to bring people closer to God in my own power. God’s power must be at work.

Keeping that in mind, I appreciate how this allegory goes a little further. Allow me to explain.

God has instructed me to work with all my heart, on whatever has been placed in front of me, as working for Him. (Colossians 3:23)The woodpecker thought it was his own power that split the tree - S. J. Little

The woodpecker exemplified this in that he was pecking away at that tree. He wasn’t sitting lazily on the branch. He was doing the job he was given to do with all his heart.

It was as he laboured at his job, that the lightning struck.

Do you see it? I am to put my heart into what God has given me to do, but the real impact happens through God’s power.

As Paul said:

“I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10b ESV

Or as the New Living Translation puts it: “For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by His grace.”

Oh, that I would never forget what the woodpecker forgot, that even as I work for the Lord with all my heart, it is God’s power that brings the impact, not mine.

Am I following God, rather than trying to lead Him? My cat isn't good at following me! - S. J. Little

How well am I following Jesus?

Meet My Cat  

I have a cat named Midnight. He is quite the character and has become very social.

My cat looking to the left. - S. J. LittleWhen he was younger, we had his brother as well. Midnight would always let his brother do the talking. I remember watching my siblings try to coax even the tiniest mew out of him with little success. In the years since his brother passed away, however, Midnight has found his voice. Now he often shares his opinions loudly, though at times he merely squeaks.

It’s funny how cats have their own personalities. If you’re a cat lover, you may understand. Midnight’s favourite human food to beg for is the milk left after cereal. His brother, however, was far more interested in ice cream. When Midnight begs for a bowl, he’ll sit a distance away with his back towards the person. As they reach halfway through their meal, he might move a little closer and peek at the person. Only once the spoon is scraping the bottom of the bowl, will he sit at the person’s feet peering up at them. His brother was the opposite. He would boldly sit by the person, staring at them as they ate. With his old age, Midnight is beginning to pick up some of his brother’s boldness.

My cat rings a bell when he wants more canned food. That way it doesn't dry out when he isn't hungry - S. J. Little
Midnight ringing the bell for food.


Midnight is also a very smart cat. He’s learned to open doors. At one point, we had to devise a lock for the cat food closet so he and his brother wouldn’t break in. We’ve trained him to ring a bell when he wants canned food, and I’ve taught him to find some place other than my keyboard to lay down when he wants to cuddle but I’m busy on my computer. Yes, he is a smart cat… most of the time.

He’s Not Good at Following

The one thing he has never seemed to learn is how to follow well.

It has happened often that, when I head down the hallway, he gets excited and wants to come along. I start down the hallway at a decent clip, and he hurries just ahead of me, as though trying to lead me. As I turn to enter a room, I trip over him, because there he is, right where I was planning to step.

It gets worse. Sometimes he will zig zag directly in front of my feet! Not only that, but, looking from above, his coat appears entirely black – not a helpful thing in a dark hallway at night.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve accidentally kicked him because he dodged directly into my path. That’s not including the times I’ve managed to avoid him by stumbling and almost falling myself.

What a silly cat. He’s so eager to go with me, and even lead me, but doesn’t know where I’m going. How can he lead when he doesn’t know the direction? He could have saved himself many a bump if only he’d learned to follow.

Following God

Following – that’s what God calls us to do. We are to follow Him.

As you read through the Gospels you’ll quickly see that Jesus often called people to follow Him. Most times there is no record of Jesus telling them where He would lead them, or what their life would look like, but the call to follow is there.

How to Not Follow God Well – Like My Cat

Did you know there are examples of people in the Bible who tried to get ahead of God when it felt as though He was taking too long? 

Abraham and his son Ishmael are a blatant example of this. God had promised that Abraham would have countless descendants, but many years passed without Abraham having a single child. Abraham and his wife Sarah were old. They decided that rather than waiting for God any longer, they would help Him out by taking matters into their own hands. Abraham took Sarah’s maid as his wife and had Ishmael by her. That was not following God’s plan, and later their actions led to trouble in their family. You can read the story for yourself in Genesis, especially chapters 16-17, 21. My black and white cat sitting on an orange chair. How well are you doing at following God? - S. J. Little

Another way to not follow God is to run in the opposite direction as Jonah did. That never turns out well in the end! (Jonah 1)

Am I trying to get out ahead of God, or running in the opposite direction, instead of following Him?

Thoughts About Following God

So much could be said about following God, but this is just one blog post. There’s no way I can fit it all in! I’ll try to stay brief. 

Throughout the entire Bible, we see God leading people. Sometimes His leading made sense to those following, but there are also many times when it made no sense at all! Take Jericho for example, or Naaman. (Joshua 6; 2 Kings 5)

Sometimes following God means waiting, such as in Acts 1:4, when they waited for Pentecost. However, waiting doesn’t mean sitting idly. In Acts 1:14-26, they spent the time praying and they chose a man to replace Judas. They were doing what needed to be done, while seeking and waiting for God. I’ve long loved Psalm 37:34: “Wait for the Lord and keep His way…” Yes, we must wait for God, and that time of waiting often includes going about our daily lives in a way that is honouring to God.

Are You Following God?

My cat trying to help me study the Bible. - S. J. Little
Midnight trying to help me study the Bible.

I wish I had some concrete formula for discerning whether or not I am following God well. If I had such a formula I would gladly share it with you, but I don’t.

Following God can look very different in different people’s lives. Even in one person’s life, following God may appear very different in each season.

What I can say is keep seeking after Jesus. Read the Bible often, spend time in prayer, and be in fellowship with others who know Jesus deeply. Then He will guide you, and if you’re not following Him, He will reveal that to you and help you change course. Sometimes His leading will be loud and unmissable, but other times it may be a quiet door opening that, after prayer and consideration, seems good to step through.

Final Thought

Let me leave you with a likely familiar verse from the Bible.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own understanding;

in all your ways know Him,

and He will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Are you following God today?

A Bump in the Page - Getting the foundation right from the start. Post by S. J. Little

Getting the foundation right from the start.

Yesterday, I picked up my Bible to continue reading where I had left off: Genesis 4. I read the first verse about how Cain was born. Imagine the excitement – the first baby ever born!

Then, as I pondered this, I ran my hand over the page, smoothing it down. I paused and touched one area again. There was a bump somewhere under the page.

I hesitated. Chasing the source of little bumps in the thin pages of a Bible can be as pointless as chasing the wind. Evidently some speck of dust or what not had become stuck on one of the previous pages. Many a time I have spent far too long trying to locate and wipe off a speck of dust and ended up not actually reading much of the Bible because of this distraction. Was now a good time to ignore this bump in the page, or should I find the source and clear it out?

Because I was only at Genesis chapter 4, and the bump was towards the front of my Bible, I decided I’d try to find the source. Surely I wouldn’t have too far to go… unless it was in the many introductory pages. Besides, it was a bigger than average bump. If I left it now, it may continue to irritate all the way to Psalms, or perhaps even into the New Testament. I should take care of it now, before I get much further.

I turned back a page and ran my hand over the spot. It was under that page as well. I’d have to go deeper.

On the next page, I felt for it again. Still further.

I turned to the next page, and then the next. I still hadn’t found the source.A Bump in the Page - Looking for the problem - Post by S. J. Little 

I’d reached the middle of Genesis chapter 1. Already, my time of Bible reading was being impeded. I was ready to give up the search, but I realized there was only one page remaining in the Bible. I may as well turn one more page. If I didn’t find it on the next page, the source would be somewhere in the many introductory pages. I didn’t have time to search those now. However, I would look all the way to Genesis 1:1.

I turned the final page and reached the beginning of the Bible. I swept my hand over the page. Bingo! I felt the offending speck of dust.

I swatted it away, and flipped back to Genesis 4. I ran my hand over the spot where the speck had been protruding. It was gone. Lovely.

I swept my hand over the rest of the page, but stopped. Further over, a bump of that same size had appeared!

Immediately I flipped back to the very beginning and felt the page. Sure enough, I hadn’t wiped the speck far enough. It was still on the page. I brushed it off, and ran my hand over the whole page again to double check. Back in Genesis 4, I ensured that it was all clear.

Yes, the protrusion was gone. Now I could continue on with my reading.

Before I continued, however, I paused to laugh at it. The speck of dust had been at the very beginning of my Bible: Genesis 1:1.

My laughter quickly sobered as I thought further.

In the past few days, as I slowly worked my way through the first chapters of the Bible, I had been reminded how utterly foundational they are to everything we believe as Christians. Indeed, I even listened to a sermon on Genesis 1:1 in which Pastor Glenn Nudd mentioned that if we reject the truth presented to us even in that very first verse so much of our worldview would be rendered foundationless.

A Bump in the Page - Do you believe Genesis 1:1? - Post by S. J. Little

If we do not accept and believe the Bible straight from the very start, we will find, when reading later parts, that something isn’t quite right. Just like that speck of dust would have continued to disrupt me had I not gone back to the beginning and straightened it out, so any misunderstanding or lack of accepting God’s Word at its foundation will greatly disrupt our understanding of other passages and our life of faith as a whole.

Am I saying that we need to understand every single bit of the Bible? No. There will always be more to learn. Yet there are certain utterly critical base beliefs that must be understood and accepted for the rest of God’s Word to be understood the way God intended it to be.

What are these core beliefs? Here are a couple of verses to get you started, but then I encourage you to read the Bible for yourself. You’ll quickly spot more.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” 1 Cor. 15:3-4 NASB

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Gen. 1:1

Want to learn more of the foundational truths of the Bible? The first few chapters of Genesis are packed with them. I encourage you to read through the book, and perhaps listen to a few sermons or find other resources related to them. I recommend Pastor Glen Nudd’s sermons and David Guzik’s commentary as they teach verse by verse through the book.