"Andy," I whispered. "Its too early for this. The sun is hardly up, go back to bed."
"I'm just watching a game daddy," he replied.
"Buddy I know you're tired, turn it off and go rest in your room," I responded. Then, I walked back upstairs.
Back in bed I dozed off a little but soon woke to an announcer yelling, "Three run homer!"
Now a tad grumpy, I tossed the covers off with greater frustration than before, and marched down to question my son.
"Andy, I told you its too early for watching the game, why didn't you listen to me?"
He glanced my way and answered, "I thought you would let me."
After we stared at each other for a few seconds, he focused his attention back on the game. I stood there a fool...silenced. Like any parent would, I found the TV remote and impressed myself with how swiftly I shut the TV off, then hobbled back upstairs. Now too agitated to fall back asleep, I realized, "I thought you would let me" has been around a long time. Kids use it with parents, and God's been hearing it for centuries.
A look in the Bible reveals King Saul tried this excuse a couple of times. In one instance the prophet Samuel told Saul that God wanted the King to, "Totally destroy everything that belonged to the Amalekites" (I Sam 15). Saul was not to spare anything, as God sought to punish Israel's enemy. But Saul took the enemy King alive (a no-no), spared the best sheep and cattle (also bad), and everything else that was good (he really messed-up). He only destroyed the despised and weak. When Samuel discovered Saul had not carried out God's instructions, he confronted the King. Saul defended himself, and sounded a bit like a kid pleading, "I thought you would let me."
"I obeyed," Saul declared, and excused his partial-obedience by stating that anything he took, was only so he could sacrifice it to God. The Bible doesn't say it, but we can imagine Saul was perplexed that God wasn't giving him a pass for doing at least a little bit of what the Lord directed.
We can all learn from Samuel's profound response to the disobedient King: "To obey is better than sacrifice."
When we instruct our children to avoid situations, stay away from danger, and not do what we know is harmful to them, sometimes they do it anyway. A lot of the time they reveal an attitude: "I thought you would let me." Ridiculous right? What are they thinking?
But we do it to God and it seems to make sense to us. Pursuing a path, action, or relationship we know God does not intend for our life can simply be forgiven by our gracious God. Can't it? After all, Jesus is merciful, so really, I know this is sin but, I thought He would let me. It stinks when our children say it to us, yet we tell God to take a big whiff of our attitude which wreaks of plain old disobedience.
The next time you read of Saul's partial obedience and judge him for it, or criticize your kid for his indifference, consider the message we send our loving heavenly father. How much this week have we told him, "I thought you would let me."