Showing our children the father’s heart of tenderness, affection and love while holding fast to the discipline aspect, in their most adamant and unruly phase melts them down to realize their sinful estate.
Generally this is what I would do. At times when my baby does not want to listen to what is right, I try and explain to her. When this fails, the countdown starts and when that fails spank! At the end of the day, I would have such a bitter heart because of all the dealings and she would just obey or be forced to obey because spanking is at hand. I wonder is this obedience at all?Obedience should be willful joyous submission to the command at hand. Often I don’t achieve this!
The other day, at one such instance I decided to play it differently. I tried my best not to lose temper but to explain what went wrong in the current dealing. She was not willing to apologize, I did not force an apology but reminded her of her sinful estate and her rebellion towards God and His word. In the meanwhile, I did not withhold love. I showed her that I loved her and cared for her. Result – she came back after sometime, gave me a hug and said that she was wrong. I was surprised! Showing love in the most toughest moments by means of body language and kind yet firm words is so important!
We train animals – Dogs, cats even dolphins are trained to obey what we say. Sit and the animal sits, Down the animal goes down etc., The aim of this kind of obedience is to show the dog that we are the master and we need them to do what we ask them to do without using any of their own intelligence. This is in the same lines as the creation command to man, to rule over the animals that God had created. But this is not the kind of obedience expected of our children.
When God created man, He created them – Male and female, in the image of God. He created them with an ability to rule(God commanded man to rule and subdue the animals), the ability to choose( Adam did not choose an animal for his mate), the ability to name(Adam named the animals), the ability to obey, the ability to disobey (Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that had been forbidden for man), the ability to communicate with God (God and man had a conversation as God walked in the cool of the day in the Garden) etc(All these we seen with the first three chapters of the book of Genesis (the first book in the Bible)). So clearly we see that man was not created to be like the animals. Man was created differently, in the image of God. God expected a willing joyful submission from man to His command of not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yes, a willful joyous submission. Man chose to disobey.
As a parent most of the time I find it easy if my daughter did not have a mind of her own, would just listen to and obey the instructions that I have for her. But I need to understand and often remind myself she is created to think and to act. She is created with the ability to choose. That leaves me with only a few options – explain and woo her into understanding what is good for her and what is right according the the Bible. So as you see, there are a lot of times things don’t go the way I want it to and I have to show her things in a way that would make her choose what is right. It is a tough job and I thank God for the strength and the grace that he gives me each day.
It is my prayer today that as we bring up our kids, we would teach them the ways of the Lord and pray and earnestly seek God for their willful joyous submission knowing that they, like us, were made as beings who have a mind of their own. Oh that they may find the gospel appealing in their lives! That the gospel would woo them and bring them closer to God! Oh what a glorious day that would be?!