Educating a child in the acceptable social graces takes time. Lately Tayla starts a lot of sentences with an imperative tone. “Dad, you must ….” You can fill in the blanks with whatever preoccupies her at that specific moment. I’m trying to teach her to ask, “Dad, will you please”. It’s a lengthy process.

It also made me think about the peculiar phrase, “You must”. It’s a command, an urging to do something. It has a definite ring of authority to it. Lollie and I have a lot of fun with this word. She’ll say “You must phone so and so”. I’ll respond by saying that the only thing I must do is to love God and my neighbor. Herein lays another journey. The journey of allowing God to address me with the imperatives introduced by must.

In this weekend’s lectionary we will look at the interaction between Jesus and the women at the well (John 4). In verse 4 we read that this whole episode was triggered in John’s words because “Jesus had to go through Samaria”. It was a must. To not do it would have been disobedience. The Greek word is dei, it means “it is necessary”, or “you must”.

As I’m training Tayla to ask instead of command, I’m reminded that the same rules apply to my relationship with God. I’m learning the graces of petition and the responsibility of obedience … what must you do?