I have a love/hate relationship with play dough. We go way back. With my first child, I made my own play dough. With my second son following quite closely on the heals of our first, I don’t think we even had time to think about shaping anything but our sanity. Now that I have a third son in the toddler phase, I find myself getting reacquainted with a long lost frenemy (this time the store-bought version).
On the one hand, Play dough provides peace by assuaging momma guilt with the promise of sharpening fine motor skills. There is nothing like opening a new set of Play dough cylinders: those terribly unnatural colors perfectly shaped like little Spams. It’s the little things in the life.
On the other hand, I cringe to think of the color-clogged fingernails and the lingering smell all over his hands, my hands and all the furniture they may encounter. Finally, there is the horrifying, but inevitable moment of the great color mix, whereby all the formerly bright pigments mix into a large mound of lint-colored gray.
Today, as I was studying the first chapter of the book of Isaiah, the Lord brought Play Dough to mind and heart. In light of the fact that Jesus used the common practices of the everyday people to make beautiful and challenging parables, I like to think that Play Dough is fair game for His teaching and training of the modern momma.
God begins the book of Isaiah by stating a pretty heavy case against His people; however, God, looking ahead to the coming gospel, softens His righteous indignation with the promise that though we cannot clean ourselves, He will clean us.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword” (Isaiah 1: 18-20).
If you are willing and obedient. This phrase struck me deeply and brought Play Dough to mind. I want a willing heart, a malleable heart, a heart that is easily impressed by the Lord and His Word. I want that for my little men. I want that for the ladies I mentor.
When Play Dough hasn’t seen the light of day for quite some, it gets crusty and hard. It resists being molded and causes cramps in the hands attempting to shape it. My heart does the exact same thing: it gets stale and crusty if it is not exposed to God’s presence, God’s Word and God’s people regularly.
My soul has a great need to be kneaded. The kneading process often feels intrusive and uncomfortable, yet the patient, firm Spirit uses the Word and circumstances to break up the crusty places in my soul, keeping me soft and malleable.