Friday, April 26, 2013

Trying to Be Nice

The hardest, most rewarding job I've ever had is parenting.  About the time I think I've got a handle on things, my youngest decides that defiance is really fun, and I feel in over my head again.  Of course, I wouldn't trade it for anything.  Watching my oldest learn to read, hearing my son point out all the ways Beaver Cleaver is dishonest, taking pictures of the baby (can I still call her that at 22 months?) with spaghetti all over her face all these are highlights of my day.

Another highlight of being a mom is one I never expected.  Parenting regularly gives me new insight into my relationship with God.  Take this scene, for example:

Interior, kitchen, day.  A young boy standing on a chair at the kitchen sink, which has sharp knives in it. Enter Mom.

Mom: I asked you to help me by wiping the table
Boy: But I want to help wash the dishes!
Mom: The best way to help me is to wipe the table
Boy: I'm just trying to be nice!
Mom: The best way to be nice is to obey me.

Mom stops with a dawning light of comprehension in her eyes.

In my Old Testament class at Harding, I had to memorize the following verses: 

Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king." (1 Samuel 15:22-23). 

You see, Saul had been told to destroy everything that belonged to Amalekites. When Samuel met him on the way from the victory, he asked Saul why he heard the bleating of sheep.  The king told the prophet that they  had saved the best of the livestock to be a sacrifice to the Lord.  In essence, he told Samuel, "I was just trying to be nice!"  

I had a basic understanding of what these verses meant when I was in college.   But now as a parent, I really get it.  When God sets boundaries for me, it is for my good.  Just like I didn't want my son to cut himself on my knives, God does not want me to cut myself on sin.  When God gives me a task to perform, it is not because He can't do it without me.  I could have wiped the table, but I'm training my son to be a responsible adult with basic household skills.  Perhaps when I have a task in front of me, God is training me to be the most effective Christian I can be.

Kissing Daddy
How do you see your relationship with God?  As a loving parent to a beloved child?  Or as an employer to employee?  In my life, I have too often had the latter view.  God was my boss, and if I didn't do the set of tasks He gave me, I would be fired.  Praise the Lord that He gave me children!  My kids have given me a new set of eyes to see God as my parent.  He is raising me without making all the parenting mistakes I make.  He earnestly desires to protect me from harm and to train me to be a woman of God.  He loves me more than I love my own children, an awe inspiring thought.  Of  course, the analogy breaks down somewhat.  Someday, my children will leave me to make lives of their own.  I never have to leave the loving embrace and sheltering wing of my heavenly Father.  Seeing God in this light has changed the very nature of my obedience.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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