Dan Herford

Receive, juggle, pass

Lessons Through Parenting

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?


1 Comment

  1. Yes, I hear you brother 😉 Allthough I’m not the most presentable example of Gods perfect fatherly love, I dó experience His grace and unconditional love in the way I (by His grace alone) approach my children sometimes. The Father reveals Himself through His children in many way – He reveals both His fatherly and motherly heart, through all us earthly fathers and mothers. (And thank God this is not just for those who litteraly gave birth, but also to the ones who weren’t blessed with husbands/wifes and children. God the Father is so mercyfull that He also says that the ones without children can be a major blessing to their many spiritual children.)
    One lesson that I really appreciate, is that Gods Fatherheart will always think in possibilities (like you showed in the example of your son’s schoolwork). Having three children with several `diagnoses'(ADHD, Autism, deafness), I learned to bless and encourage their possibilities and gifts instead of focussing on the ímpossibilities. I learned that there is so much grace and heavenly power in being `weak’ in the eyes of the world, because only then His power and grace will be recognised in us. I must confess that this will probably be a life-long learning-process 😉

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