Parenting can be a wonderful insight into God’s heart toward us – how he loves us in spite of how we often react to him.
As parents, we get the experience of loving and caring for people who often respond with total, irrational opposition to all of our wise and right-hearted instruction. We get to interact with the melted-down six-year-old who has determined that the task you have called them to is beyond impossible, and listen to the teenager express their frustration with our stupid rules.
Beyond all apparent reason, our children will throw themselves into pits of noisy despair, convinced that we have no purpose but torture in mind as we direct them to pick up their bedroom, or complete their homework, or stop playing a game. We stare, astonished, until we finally realize that we sometimes act toward God like our children are acting toward us.
In addition to giving us this sobering peek from God’s perspective, parenting can also be a surprising avenue for hearing from God as he speaks to us through the words we say to our children.
Yesterday, as I walked one of my boys through some math problems, and today as I helped my daughter decipher the music notation for her piano practice, I was reminded again that often, I am not so far from that faithless child. Sometimes I find myself stuck in a mental fog of my own creation, seeing problems on every side while my Father sits patiently, pointing to the next step on the path out of ‘stuck’. Thankfully, he doesn’t leave me there.
As I helped my despairing math student yesterday, I heard God whispering in my ear.
My son wailed, “I can’t do this! It’s impossible! It will take me forever!”
I said to him (and God said to me), “What one thing can you find that you can do? How about start by just looking at the worksheet. You can do that.”
“This is impossible!!”, cried my son, as he squinted at the worksheet.
I said to him (and God said to me), “Sure, it’s hard. You’re going to have lots of hard things to do. Sometimes it will be overwhelming. But listen – whenever you get in that spot where you think it’s impossible, stop and look, and do whatever simple thing you can do. Trust that I love you and that I will help you if you really can’t figure it out.”
My son grumbled and groaned, and then pretty soon he did the next simple thing he could do, and he got traction, and he got the job done.
As I pondered that interaction, and the way that God spoke to me through it, I considered that maybe one of God’s great purposes in blessing me with children who are sometimes crazy, irrational, and faithless toward me, is to help me recognize and turn from my own crazy, irrational, and faithless attitudes.
When I see myself getting bogged down by a life full of challenges and uncertainties, my Father reminds me that I don’t need to get it all figured out. I need to trust his goodness and his love for me, and then I need to find the next simple thing I can do, and do it. He’ll be there to help me when I really can’t do it.
How about you? Has God ever spoken to you through the words you’ve spoken to your children? In what other ways has God spoken to you?