God said to Solomon, “Because your greatest desire is to help your people,
and you did not ask for personal wealth and honor or the death of your enemies or even a long life,
but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people…”
2 Chronicles 1:11 NLT
“The Moro reflex, also known as the startle reflex, is an involuntary response that is present at birth and usually disappears between the ages of 3 to 6 months. The reflex occurs when an infant is startled by a loud noise or other environmental stimulus or feels that he or she is falling. The reflex causes the baby to extend the arms, legs, and fingers and arch the back.” (About.com)
I learned about the Moro reflex earlier this week and have not been able to stop thinking about it. It was presented as part of the reason infants struggle with sleeping for longer chunks of time. The reflex wakes them and then they are unable to soothe themselves back to sleep. The exhausted parents presenting this information said the solution was to mimic the boundaries of a Mother’s womb in a sleep-sack type of product. Then, when this reflex kicks in and the baby’s arms flail out, they bump into a soft, elastic boundary and they are reminded of the safety of their former home. This feeling of safe familiarity allows them to relax and quickly fall back asleep!
I couldn’t help but think of the strong correlation between this startle reflex in infants and an almost identical emotional response I have when experiencing the first three to six months of a new challenge in my life. Those first couple months in to the birth of a new circumstance always reveal a few “unknown-unknown’s” that are part of the dangers of uncharted territory. My involuntary – or maybe learned – response is to startle. My defense mechanisms extend out just like the arms and legs of a startled infant! I feel a fear very similar to the uncertainty of a free fall. In those moments, I would give almost anything for a soft, elastic boundary.
In 2 Chronicles, Solomon begins his new challenge with an astounding opportunity. God comes to him in a dream tells him that he will give him anything he asks for. What an amazing gift for the new king! And out of all the things he could have asked for – wealth, love, eternal greatness, ANYTHING – he asks for wisdom!
“Now, LORD God, please keep your promise to David my father, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth! Give me wisdom and knowledge to rule them properly, for who is able to govern this great nation of yours?” God said to Solomon, “Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for personal wealth and honor or the death of your enemies or even a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people, I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. And I will also give you riches, wealth, and honor such as no other king has ever had before you or will ever have again!” (2 Chronicles 1:9-11)
Solomon is already SO wise! I would have been tempted to ask for everyone in my kingdom to love me because that would assuage my fears of this new, uncertain territory. My Moro reflex craves the comfort of the boundary of human love and acceptance. Wise, young Solomon knew that anything other than God’s wisdom would not be enough. Wisdom from God would trump any charm or human power. He was able to think beyond a potential startle reflex because he had faith that God’s “womb” of grace surrounded him, just as it did his father David.
What a powerful example for me – startled, reflex-driven me. In my life, when a new challenge is born, my first step should be to feel out the very real boundaries God has placed around me no matter my circumstance: the boundaries of justice, mercy and truth!
Challenge: Identify a new challenge I am currently facing and talk to God about it. Ask him to bless me with his wisdom and his knowledge to glorify him, not me, in this situation.
Dear Lord, you are my strength and my shield. Your righteousness is my validation; I don’t need human approval if I have yours. Flood my heart, mind and soul with your wisdom and discernment. Let that be my boundary and my comfort in new AND old circumstances. Amen.