Scripture tells us to become like little children in our faith. We are to trust God as children trust their parents or those they love. Their trust and belief is unwavering and totally committed. They believe with all their heart and lean on their parent to guide and care for them. This is the message we are to hear. It occurred to me today, however, that we are like children but just in the wrong ways.
Some of you know that I had a class of parolees for about 4 years. I am now subbing for classes of the same type. I had the privilege of returning to my former class today. One of the discussions was very interesting. First of all, I was giving a couple of them a hard time because I told them they had gotten lazy in their efforts since I have been gone. You have to understand that I would have to spend the first few days and sometimes weeks convincing these guys it is worth it to try to learn. Much of the time school had not been a pleasant experience for them. They used to fight me all the way with excuses, goofing off or mostly just warming up to letting me help them. Most had to be shown that I would help and could help AND that they actually could learn.
So, as I got a couple young guys to concentrate and we finished for the day. I was encouraging them to realize they had years ahead to change their lives and this could be a good first step in that direction. So, they began telling me that other teachers had not checked on them like me. Therefore, because other teachers did not come up and make sure they were learning--they weren't. They had convinced themselves, in other words, that it was up to someone else to make them learn. Remember now that these are the same ones whom I had to "fight" to get them to accept help. They realize it's a good thing that I help them, yet these same guys fought me doing that very thing.
It hit me how much like children they are and we are. Children sometimes fight the very thing they need the most--things like sleep, protection, sharing and just plain discipline. We have to help them learn that these are good for them. Some fight harder than others and on different fronts, but all fight something. Yet, it is the very thing that they need and would make life so much better.
We are all children like that. We fight against the very thing that would make life better. Our sanctification requires chaffing against the things that we love greater than we love Christ. We tend to fight against the change that we need to make instead of embracing it because it makes us more like Him. It comes on so many fronts. Some we don't even recognize at first. Yet, true just the same. My guys had learned that accepting help and putting in effort was so worth it even though they fought it at first. Oh, that we would learn that the discipline of the Lord is so worth the effort.
Lord, help us be honest with ourselves about where we argue or fight against the very thing you're wanting us to see. Help us be like the child who has learned to trust and believe You even when it means we have to change. Making ourselves more vulnerable is hard. Accepting your help when things haven't worked in the past is hard. Letting go of the past is hard. Allowing You to enter in to the main frame of our hearts and mind is hard. Sanctification is not easy, but so worth it. Teach us to be like the little child that holds dad's hand because he trusts he MUST since his father said so. That's the part of childlikeness that we need. Help us let the other parts go.
Friday, February 18, 2011
James Dobson aptly names one of his books, “Parenting Isn’t for Cowards”. So very true!! There are so many ways that God uses parenting in the life of the parent as well as the child. We have the assignment of molding and training our children, but in the process we realize this job is the most challenging, stretching and life-changing we will ever have. It is definitely the most demanding in time, patience and wisdom. It causes great angst sometimes and the most powerful love and joy known to man other times. Each child you have is an instrument in the hand of God to TRAIN YOU. Whether you get that or not is entirely up to your response to His work in your life.
I know that many of my posts will come from a parent perspective because that is the area that God used the most in my life. It’s also the area I’ve spent the most time in besides marriage. However, let me say from the beginning that my parenting, or anyone else’s for that matter, was by the GRACE of God. Anything that turned out right or wise only came from God’s working in us, or by direct instruction from His Word. Praise the Lord my children love Him and serve Him. For that I praise Him daily. I can take NO credit for that, however. The character of my children is why I sometimes get more credit than I deserve, but I know it was the incredible grace of God in all our lives that made the difference there. So, as I attempt to write to answer questions I get or attempt to encourage parents, just know that ultimately what your child becomes is up to God. When I teach parenting I share two main points: (1) Point them to Jesus as if their spiritual life depends on you. (2) PRAY with the urgency that knows it all DOES depend on God. My hope is that as I tackle different issues of parenting God will use this weak vessel as an encouragement to you.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The cutest thing happened the other day on Valentine’s Day. I had a sweet friend and her two-year-old daughter come by with some valentine goodies. She and the little girl were sitting with me at the table and the little girl was eating a cupcake. Out of the blue she looked up with cupcake all over her mouth and said, “Love your house!” It was so adorable. She had a slight drawl when she said it. Her mom started laughing and said I don’t know where she got that. She didn’t remember saying that anywhere although my suspicion is that she has. She possibly came up with that herself, but she more than likely was imitating what she had heard mom say or someone else close to her. Imitation, the greatest form of flattery, is quite common with those whom we love and have spent much time.
Children look up to their parents. They love without reservation and repeat behavior and language without even realizing they’re doing it. The intimacy of relationship and pure amount of time spent listening and learning make it next to impossible not to mimic. I find myself saying and doing things my mom said even now that I am much older and have raised my own children. That mimicking, of course, is sometimes positive and sometimes not.
It came to mind long ago when I would watch my children mimic me or their father that I want to be an imitator as well. I want to have the kind of intimacy with the Lord Jesus that makes me mimic His life and Word without even thinking about it. I want to be to the point of obeying and reflecting Him without even realizing I’m doing it. What can get me there?
If I go back to children I see that spending time, lots of time, watching and listening in all situations we begin to imitate. The only way to watch and listen to the Lord is spending that kind of time in His Word and in communion with Him. I have come to realize how much the Lord uses His Word to renew my mind and spirit. I have known that verse in Romans 12:1,2 for many years and have appreciated the truth there. But, in the last few years, the reality of seeing my mindset and emotions truly converted to freedom in the Spirit has brought true understanding (at least a glimpse of it). I appreciate the truth that I knew, but now KNOW.
The Word of God is THE instrument of true change in the Christian’s life. It’s the way He trains us, guides us, gives us wisdom and teaches us how to think. It’s a mirror to our soul in the way it reflects our sinfulness to our own eyes SO THAT we can give that very sinfulness to Him to change and transform. What a God! What a Word! What a life He gives! Oh, may I see Him with fresh eyes often!
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Yes, I've done it. I've joined the blogging world. My concern is that I won't continue to add to it. However, I have invited my daughers to add their thoughts any time they wish. So, between the five of us, perhaps we can keep something interesting going. Thanks for looking. My prayer is that there will be encouragement for the soul found here. The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is our hope and supply. It will be our goal to share HIS wisdom, for we have none of our own. May He bless this new adventure!