As usual, when I dropped off my ten-month-old at the church nursery, he cried. After a while, he settled down and busied himself with toys.
Then when I returned later, he completely fell apart.
This scenario played itself out multiple times when my children were young.
Small children manifest their need for attachment with reactions like crying, anxiety, eventual adjustment, and then coming unglued when their parents return.
Ever find yourself responding to God this way? I have.
When Scott and I were young parents, we were stretched financially to the point where I couldn’t pay a certain bill in the amount of $160.00.
We’d already been helped by a few different people financially. My pride just couldn’t take being on the receiving end another time.
I needed God to come through in a way that didn’t make me feel like a charity case.
I was on the phone with Scott discussing this dilemma when the doorbell rang. “Go get the door,” he said. “Maybe it’s an answer to prayer!”
“Oh, please,” I muttered sarcastically, rolling my eyes.
At the door, a courier handed me a special letter for which I had to sign my name. In the envelope was a profit-sharing check from Scott’s previous employer.
The check was in the amount of $163.00.
Now here’s the funny part…Scott praised God for his timely provision–but I was mad!
I was the little kid in the nursery who falls apart when Mom finally gets back. I felt like I’d been tricked or made fun of.
God, of course, was being faithful, coming through in just the way I needed, at the perfect time. Soon enough, I was able to praise him again; in the meantime, he offered me his comforting presence.
This is the beautiful thing about parenting, isn’t it? By dealing with our children day in and day out, we get a glimpse of how God deals with us. In other words,
While you parent your children, God is parenting you.
This means two things:
- As you interact with your children, you gain insight into how God interacts with you.
- As you pay attention to how God deals with you, you can apply his ways to how you deal with your children.
As God “showed up” and provided for that bill, I saw his faithfulness. He has proven himself to Scott and me over and over, just as we showed up again and again for our growing children.
At the same time, God allowed us to wait for that particular provision for a reason.
He values character. He doesn’t just give us everything we want, when and how we want it.
The same principle applies to children. As our sons grew up, we didn’t give them whatever they wanted, when and how they wanted it.
It was our job as parents to shape their characters. It was our job to train them in disciplines such as delayed gratification.
“ ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” –Hebrews 12:5-7
It was also our job– and our joy– to be merciful and gracious to our children, because that’s how God is with us.
He is tender and wise and patient. He knows what’s best for us in the long run, and he loves us unconditionally.
What have you noticed lately about how your heavenly Father parents you? What qualities is he refining in your character? How is he showing you his love?
In what ways can you “copy” him as you parent your children?