I wrote this last month for our MOPS newsletter. Just finally got around to posting it here.
The other day my daughter Katie was upstairs playing in her room while
I folded some laundry. I had to repeatedly tell her some instructions, and after the fourth time of repeating myself, I found myself saying out loud to her in frustration, “How many times do I have to tell you to do this?” Really, honestly, I should have done something differently, but it popped out of my mouth. She just looked at me and finally did what she was supposed to do. UGH! I thought.
And then, I heard it. That small voice of conviction. “Mandi, don’t think that only children can be stubborn or thick-headed. How many times have I had to repeat myself to you?”
Yes, Lord, I thought. I hear you. And in that moment, it struck me, that as God’s child, I am no different than my three year old is with me.
See, I think this is one of the reasons that we are called Children of God. Because when it comes down to it, we are just children. We behave like children; we respond (or don’t respond) like children; we act like children. Think about it, children bicker. Children argue. Children constantly try to assert their independence. But children also have a special capacity for faith. Children are enthusiastic.
Children have a great amount of love. In so many ways, in our spiritual journey, for better or worse, we are children.
I’ve thought through the years as I heard Bible stories told or have read them myself, “Wow! Those Children of Israel sure were stupid! How could they see all the greatness of God and just turn their back on him? “ Or, how could this or that character in the Bible totally disregard God’s instructions? Or why did the Children of Israel whine and gripe so much on their way to the Promised Land? Incredulously to
myself, I think I felt like a grown-up looking down on childishness. But God used that moment with Katie to show me that I, too, am nothing more than His child.
I’d almost guess that when God uses the term “Child” or “Children” to refer to His people and such in the Bible that He probably meant we are closer to Preschool age, then say, Teenagers. Even Paul in I Corinthians 3 talks about the different maturity levels of believers and it was either a spiritual infant on milk or those read for solid food or meat—those who had weaned. And when do we wean children?
During the preschool years. Okay, that might be a bit of stretch, but as Mothers of Preschoolers, I think we can all relate to how children in the preschool years behave.
Taking this a step further, think of what our children need. Our children need guidance. As Christians, no matter what stage in our spiritual journey, we need guidance. That guidance has of course been provided through God’s Word. God’s word is a lamp to light our path and guide us along the way.
Children also need comfort and security. Children don’t like to be alone, some even suffering from separation anxiety. As God’s children, that need is provided for us, too. When Christ was preparing to leave His disciples, I think He could sense that dread of separation they were feeling, and that’s why He told them not to worry, that He was providing a Comforter in the person of the Holy Spirit. How many times when your children are scared do you tell them, “It’s okay, I won’t leave you.” And for as much as we know, in our limited human knowledge, we aren’t going to leave our children. Now, as God’s children, we can take comfort in His promise that “I
will never leave you nor forsake you.” How awesome that we know that promise is guaranteed!
All too often, as we all know too well, children need discipline as well. We don’t like having to punish our children, but it is necessary. Proverbs 3:12 says that the “Lord disciplines those he loves as a father the son he delights in” and this principle is repeated again in I Corinthians 11 and Hebrews 12. We also see time
and again, the Children of Israel suffered punishment, sometimes severe, when they defiantly disobeyed the Lord their God. We may not always like the discipline that He gives, but God loves us just like we love our children. And discipline is necessary to save us from harm or poor choices in the future.
Children also need love. The security of knowing you are loved goes a long way in personal development. And the Bible in Romans 5:8 clearly says that “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And of course we know John 3:16 , and its famous For God so loved the world… Wow! Imagine that. God loves all His children so much that He sacrificed His Son to save us all. And Christ Jesus was willing to suffer through the agony of
crucifixion to save us all. There is no greater love than that.
I am thankful that God opened my eyes up to this new perspective on my relationship with Him, as well as my relationship with my children. Because now that I have been humbled and forced to face my own childishness, I can also hope that I can emulate my Heavenly Father more in the way I relate to my children.
A couple months ago, my darling daughter again had pushed a few of my buttons as two year olds are so expert at doing, and I could feel my frustration simmering. I didn’t want to lose my cool, and I looked up. There on my wall is a plaque. It says, “Love is Patient; Love is Kind” from I Corinthians 13. And I stopped, took a deep breathe and thanked the Lord for such a simple reminder. Of course, we all know
that God is Love. (I John 4:8). So, God, our Father, is patient and kind.
And that’s what I want to strive for even more as a parent. I want to embody the best examples of parenting that God himself provides. Why? Because I want my children to see God through me. That my children become followers of Christ at an early age is important to me because nothing would bring me more “joy than to hear my children walk in truth” (III John 1:4). Peace!