The Playground Parable

Today’s post from Natasha Metzler is part of Hinneh: a blog series on vocation and calling. If you’d rather read all the posts from the series in a short ebook, the writers have generously made it available for free. You can download a PDF copy here, or downloads in Epub (most tablets/e-readers) and Mobi (Kindle) formats are available as well. To receive the rest of the series in your inbox, sign up here

the playground parable

There once was a father who had two daughters. He loved them both equally and wanted the very best for each of them. They lived beside a vast park and every day they would walk over to the playground. The father would kneel between them, an arm around each, and tell them the rules.

“You must stay in plain sight,” he explained. “Do not go in the woods surrounding the playground. Do not even go near them. Instead, play where you can clearly hear my voice. There are dangerous things beyond this place, but if you stay close, you will be perfectly safe.”

The younger daughter felt nervous. How could she know if she was close enough to hear her father’s voice? She spent the afternoon looking fearfully over her shoulder, wondering if she was okay. “Is this where you want me?” she would ask him every time she started toward a new place. The only problem was that she never quite made it where she was going. Her heart was too fearful and her steps too timid.

The older daughter chose to race from the swings to the slide to the monkey bars. She laughed and played. Every little while she would glance over at her father and wave. At one point she wandered too close to the woods but spun around when she heard his voice. “Back this way, child.” He said. She apologized and hurried off toward the swings again.

The father loved both of his daughters the same. He delighted in them. Yet, one could not help but notice the way he watched his younger daughter with a bit of sorrow tinging his expression. It was important that she obey the rules and stay in the circle of safety—but he sorrowed at her fear. He longed for her to simply trust his voice, and to learn to trust her ability to hear him. “I’ll tell you if you start to wander too far,” he explained to her. “Trust me.”

In Christian circles there is much talk about finding “God’s calling” for our lives, and most of it is good! He does have a will for us. We have been created for a specific purpose. But too many times I think we take that truth and create chains of fear. Like the younger daughter in the story, we never quite make it to where we’re going…because we’re too afraid to take the next step.

There needs to be a level of trust. God is not some secret-keeper in the sky, hiding your purpose from you. He is a loving Father who delights in you. Yes, you need to listen to Him! Absolutely.

Using the playground analogy, if He says, “Child, I want you to stay on the swings right now.” Then listen! If He says, “Go to the monkey bars today.” Do it! But if He says nothing, don’t stand there in fear. Trust that if He needs you a certain place, He’ll tell you.

Go swing—and point your friends on the swings toward your loving Father.

Go slide—and point your friends on the slide toward your loving Father.

And while you’re going here and there, enjoying the things you’re doing today, just remember there are some pretty basic boundaries. God may give you the freedom to choose who to marry, but I guarantee that dabbling in sexual immorality will take you right off the playground and into the woods. He may not say, “Go to North Africa as a missionary,” but He does say that you are to be light and salt to a dark and lost world.

Follow the basic guidelines and trust Him to speak if you need to do something different.

He will. I promise.

Keep looking to His face, keep your ear tuned to His voice—and walk in confidence.

Natasha Metzler is a blogger and farmer, and the author of Pain Redeemed. You can find her online at