It’s Saturday morning, and John and Jane are trudging around Asda on their weekly grocery shopping trip. It’s pretty hectic at that time on a Saturday morning, and the stress is increased by the fact that their little toddler, Barney, has decided that he doesn’t like being strapped into the trolley.
“Let me out! Let me out!” Barney wailed, throwing himself furiously back and forth. John and Jane looked wearily at each other. They both knew that they could let him out – after all, he’s now big enough to walk – but that’s the problem: he’s also big enough to run riot, careering around the aisles, knocking food off the shelves, and probably getting lost among the crowds of Saturday morning shoppers.
“I hate Saturdays,” muttered John under his breath. “I’d rather be back in the office – at least then I’d get some peace.” Jane simply looked helpless and exhausted. “I wish he’d just calm down,” she sighed. “Everyone else’s kids manage to sit still – why can’t ours? How are we ever going to cope when number two arrives?”
Finally, John’s patience ran out. “Will you just be quiet!” he bellowed, eyeball to eyeball with his terrified son from a distance of about two inches. That seemed to do the trick. The wailing stopped instantly, and Barney sat in silence, wide-eyed and motionless, stunned by the shock. But wasn’t to last. About five seconds later he began to whimper; then came the sobs; then the tears. “Let me out! Let me out!” Barney wailed again.
It’s a tragically familiar scene, and one that often leaves onlookers almost as mystified as the parents. It’s hard to know where to start fixing such a messed-up situation. After all, what can anyone do about the Terrible Twos?
The first step towards a solution here is understanding exactly what the problem is. It turns out that John and Jane are making no less than five separate mistakes as parents. They’re letting Barney down in five different ways. And each one of these failures is specifically addressed in Ephesians 6:4, which as it happens is our sermon text at Emmanuel this coming Sunday.