I know, that is a pretty hefty title, isn’t it? During Bible study the other day (we’re reading ‘Feminine Appeal’ by Caroline Mahaney. I’d tell you if it is good or not, but we’re not done yet, so I’ll keep you posted.) we talked about what Titus 2 means by “loving our children.” This is a pretty blanket statement, and can end up with a plethora of topics on love, snuggling, nutrition, discipline, provision, training children Biblically, to spank or not to spank etc etc. You get the idea. It is a pretty broad road to travel as far as discussions go, and we certainly did not disappoint. We covered the range of topics fairly well. But we lingered on one particular point, one that in saying out loud, I realized is pretty important as an overview of Godly parenting. And what was that, you ask?
It is pretty simple in concept. How does God parent us? I’ve wrestled with this question before I was a parent. I did not understand the concept of God as my father. That comes to most quite easily, but my earthly father (shout out to you, Dad!) did a pretty good job, and I love him a lot, despite his terrible fashion sense and penchant for fanny packs, but that is another post entirely. Ugh. I digress…
Anyway, I couldn’t imagine why I’d need two fathers when my Dad tried his very best to imitate God’s perfect go before. I had no lingering Daddy issues as an adult, and all of my psych classes likened those to a bad relationship with Religious authority. (Whatever, Freud, I’m onto you. You’re whacked.) So I kind of shrugged my shoulders and went about my business praising God and doing my best to talk my way out of actually obeying him. Kind of like my teenage years with my Dad.
As a parent… This is another question entirely. Much heavier than my laissez-faire attitude of when I was a young adult.
How does God parent me?
I find myself asking this question as I parent my children. When they’re not listening, and they end up hurting themselves because of disregard for my parental wisdom.
“Don’t ride your bike on the front porch!”
“But Mom, why not? It is so fun! *CRASH* “Ahhhhhhh!!!! Mom!! Mom! I scraped my knee! I bumped my head! Mom! and I killed your new peonies….”
“What were you doing?!”
“Riding my bike on the front porch….”
I was so frustrated at that moment. I wanted to scream and yell and stomp my feet a couple times! I told her not to do that! Why did she not listen to me?! Doesn’t she KNOW that I know more than she does? Have I not exhibited my wisdom to her on multiple occasions? Then I thought…
How does God parent me? How must he feel? I KNOW as an adult even I’ve done the same thing. I’ve read his Word, I know what he wants from me, and yet I disobey and then I whine to him when things don’t go my way. Whoops. How frustrated must he be? There are portions of scripture where God tells humankind (Israel, more likely than not) how frustrated he is. And yet he still takes care of them, loves them, he doesn’t stop them from feeling the brunt of their consequences, but he doesn’t always turn his back on them, and then, some times, when things get REALLY bad, he kind of does let them fall flat on their face.
If there is anything my recent devotional goal of completing the book of Ezekiel has taught me, it is what God’s plans for families are, because he intends families to reflect his relationship with us, his children. Or with us, his bride. When God gives us a definition of family, he’s giving us the tools to set our children up for a fulfilling relationship with him. We can’t force that on them, or choose it for them, but in all of our training and teaching of our children we need to adhere to God’s idea of family, of parenthood, and of marriage. He’s given us a beautiful template. To say we know better, or do what we think is best, and to reject the perfect outline he has for us is to set aside our relationship with him, in a sense. In denying the picture he has provided for us, for a better understanding of our relationship with him, we deny him, and what he has offered us. Consider how he parents you, how he loves you, and how he cares for you, and imitate him in your family relationships. The changes our dim reflection of him provide in our families are amazing. Take it one step further and fully submit to him, forget reflecting him, and let him work IN you and THROUGH you. He has some pretty great plans, if we’d only submit our ideas and dreams to what he says in his Word.
That being said, I’m going to offer a caution from Ezekiel 18. We can do everything right, and our children may still choose to reject God. Or we can do everything wrong, and our children will still choose to accept God. Part of submission to God, is understanding he has his own justice, and that no one can establish anything without him, and no one can destroy anything without him. We can only live our lives in such a way that honors him.
And don’t take my word for it, check out these scriptures on what God says about families:
Job 1:5 (How did Job fulfill his responsibility as head of the family?)
I Thessalonians 4:11-12
Ephesians 6:1-4 (Instructions to the whole family.)
Ephesians 5:23-25 (also includes instructions to wives.)
Proverbs is also chock full of goodies about families, taking advice, listening to instruction, and learning from mistakes.